Posts

Forever and Our Two Days

“The South Pacific was pretty rough, even for the Navy,” M. Baxter Sowell Jr. ’83 said. He took some time on a Friday morning in early February to reflect on his parents — their love story, which really began with his father’s service in World War II.

It was through the G.I. Bill that Morgan B. Sowell Sr. ’51, a native of Orangeburg, South Carolina, was able enroll at Clemson University and major in agricultural education. He became the first person in his family to go to college.

“I remember him saying how revered the war veterans were by the cadets on campus,” Baxter said. “It was almost like when they walked down the hall, the other students would come to attention for them and turn their backs to the wall. Just kind of paid deference to what they had done because people his age, their senior trip was the South Pacific. It wasn’t much of a senior cruise.”

Clemson was still an all-male, military college in the late ’40s and ’50s, and it was common for the cadets to pile on buses on the weekends and head over to Winthrop for dances and other social events with the college girls. It was one such dance where Morgan Sowell met his future wife, a business management student by the name of Jean DuBose.

They fell in love.

“My parents spent their honeymoon in the presidential suite of the Clemson House,” Baxter said, a smile in his voice. “I just thought that was a great love story.”

Both Jean and Morgan graduated from college in the spring of 1951. In June, they were married in Orangeburg and spent their wedding night driving back up to Clemson. Their honeymoon destination was the newly constructed Clemson House, the hotel on the hill that overlooked campus, lit up by its neon orange sign.

“My dad, being young and just back from the war and a recent graduate, wasn’t wealthy by any standard,” Baxter continued. “So, he ordered up a standard room from the guy behind the counter, who was also a war vet.”

The fellow veteran slipped the newlyweds the key to the presidential suite with a wink.

“My parents spent their honeymoon in the presidential suite of the Clemson House,” Baxter said, a smile in his voice. “I just thought that was a great love story.”

The Sowells returned to Orangeburg County, where Morgan spent the rest of his life as a farmer. Morgan and Jean had been married for more than 30 years when Morgan passed away in the late ’80s. Jean passed away about 5 years ago.

“My mom never remarried because she had one love, and that was him.”

Baxter recently found some old pictures of his parents’ wedding and their memorable honeymoon trip to Clemson House. He also stumbled upon some vintage valentines, where Morgan penned “his little motto with my mom about loving her forever and ‘our two days’ because forever and a day wasn’t long enough.”

The card reads, “Love always, forever and our two days. Your Husband.”

 

 

 

Alumni Teaching the Arts

The South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, tucked into the heart of downtown Greenville, hosts a myriad of talented and well-trained faculty who are dedicated to mentoring high school sophomores, juniors and seniors, immersing them in the arts with classes on dance, music, visual arts, drama and creative writing. Students work closely with mentors, who pass down their own experiences and teach self-discipline, respect, time management, resilience, professionalism and empathy.

The Governor’s School highlights an amazing reciprocal relationship with Clemson. Many graduates of the school later become Clemson students, and there are more than a few Clemson alumni who serve as teachers and/or staff members. The Visual Arts Department, in particular, boasts a few faculty members who all have something in common: a master’s degree from Clemson.

 

 

Marty Epp-Carter M ’09
MFA in visual arts, emphasis in printmaking
Teaches printmaking, drawing and visual language

Why is learning about art and developing artistic skills important for students?

“When an artist makes a piece of art, they are expressing themselves by solving a problem. This requires communication skills, and communication requires a clear and agreed-upon language. Students are learning to express themselves, work independently, meet deadlines, hone eye-hand coordination skills, pay attention to nuance and honor the tiniest details. They also develop the discipline it takes to follow through, despite mistakes and challenges.”

 

 

Cary Perkins M ’04
Master of Architecture
Teaches architecture 

How did Clemson help prepare you for your current career?

“One of my Clemson professors once said that a design education prepares you for any career path — every industry is improved by rigorous problem-solving through creative thinking. That perspective has shaped my thinking in many ways and is something I strive to share with my students, along with teaching them to focus on visually communicating, self-editing and constantly questioning.”

 

 

David Gerhard M ’13
MFA in visual arts, emphasis in printmaking
Chair of the Visual Arts Department; teaches drawing, graphic design and art history and also teaches graphic design at Clemson

What do you hope students and other schools will learn from the Governor’s School?

“We are a resource for all students and teachers across South Carolina. The Governor’s School is a model for what can be done under ideal circumstances. Something I hope my students take away is how to balance doing so many things at once. I teach them time management, how to push through when you don’t feel like you’re being creative anymore, discipline and how to take criticism. I also make sure I am being very practical while still allowing students to have that joy of creative work.”

 

 

Joseph Thompson M ’98
MFA in visual arts, emphasis in sculpture
Teaches sculpture, drawing and 3D design

How has COVID-19 affected the way you teach?

“COVID-19 has shifted the emphasis of my teaching practice from providing students with lessons in materials, processes and poetics to partnering with them in the investigation of those things. Students have less access to equipment and facilities, but their connection to their work as their work has never been greater. Students are seeing themselves as partners in their own education, something that has always been a marker of our department but is now being emphasized more than ever.”