Tripp and Anne Jones’ tailgating tree isn’t the only thing that has grown over the years.
Tripp and Anne Jones have been tailgating in the same spot at Clemson for a long time — long enough that they have watched a tree grow up alongside their children and grandchildren.
But the length of time they have been a part of the Clemson Family is just a small indication of their commitment to the University.
The couple’s story began on April 11, 1970, when they met on a blind date as Clemson students. Tripp graduated in 1971, and Anne finished in 1973. After getting married, the couple settled on Lake Murray near Columbia.
Tripp practiced as a medical oncologist until his retirement, and inspired by their experiences at Clemson, the couple decided to give back to their alma mater. At Anne’s suggestion, they designated their gift toward student scholarships, and because of Tripp’s degree in zoology, they reserved their scholarship for students from Lexington County who are studying biological sciences.
Anna Phillips is evidence of what the Joneses have done for Clemson. Phillips graduated in May as a biological sciences major with minors in microbiology and chemistry. “This scholarship has helped me pay for college,” Phillips said. “I’m going to dental school, and without this scholarship, I wouldn’t be able to do that. I’m really thankful.”
The Joneses gave out of gratitude for their Clemson experience. “I don’t feel like I could ever give enough back to Clemson for what it has done for us and for our family,” Tripp said. “We felt like we needed to do something to give back to Clemson because Clemson has meant so much to us.”
Emily Davison is another beneficiary of the Joneses’ gifts to Clemson. She is the first one of her siblings to attend college, and the financial aid made a big difference. “Debt was always in the back of my mind,” Davison said. “Anything helps, but especially receiving something from a doctor from the same area I’m from meant even more.”
Not only do Tripp and Anne want to be a part of students’ educational journeys, but they stay connected to Clemson through several other avenues. Tripp is a member of Tigers on Call, a group of physicians who mentor students interested in the medical field. They are avid football fans and try not to miss Saturdays in Death Valley; Tripp even expresses laughing concern that if he’s not there, the Tigers might stumble running down the hill.
Though the football team could likely pull off a successful game in Tripp and Anne’s absence, other students’ success might not be as certain. Without the family’s generosity, several students’ college experiences would look quite different and present more daunting challenges. As the Joneses have returned to Clemson football season after football season to find the same tree growing steadily at their tailgating spot, their connection to Clemson has grown along with their commitment to giving back. The fruit of that commitment will benefit many for years to come.