In April, five Clemson alumni joined a select group and received the highest honor bestowed upon a former student by the Alumni Association. All five of these honorees have experienced success in their lives, personally and professionally. But one quality ties them together, more than all the others. And that’s their determination. They were determined in the classroom and on the playing field, in their communities and their careers, in their public personas and in their personal lives. And they bring that determination to their continuing involvement with Clemson.
A can-do attitude
William L. “Roy” Abercrombie Jr. ’69 learned early on in his life that “Can’t can never do anything.” That can-do attitude was nurtured along by his professors at Clemson, including Dean Wallace Trevillian, who required shirts and ties at all his management classes.
Though he started out in sales, Abercrombie ended up in banking. He rose to chair of the board, CEO and president at American Federal, where he served until 1997, when the bank merged with CCB–Central Carolina Bank. He continued with CCB until his retirement in 2003. He currently serves as chair of Colliers International–Greenville.
Abercrombie is a life IPTAY member, WestZone Initiative and Heisman-level donor, member of the Leadership Circle, and former member and past chair of the Board of Visitors. He was instrumental in securing resources needed to enable the board to promote the University. Past chair of the Clemson Real Estate Foundation, he is a founding member and chair of the Clemson Land Stewardship Foundation.
A thinker and a problem-solver
E. Mitchell “Mitch” Norville ’80 got his degree in engineering, but thanks to Professor Douglas Bradbury, he came to see himself as a thinker and problem-solver. He worked as an engineer for a couple of years before going to the University of Virginia to earn his MBA and continue his career at Boston Properties, one of the largest self-managed real estate investment trusts specializing in the development and ownership of office, industrial and hotel properties in the United States.
Clemson may not be the city on his driver’s license, but it does have his heart. A board member for the Baltimore/Washington D.C. Clemson Club, he has made significant financial contributions to Clemson’s basketball program and the WestZone, where Gate 6 was named the “Norville Family Gate” in honor of his family.
A founding member of the President’s Leadership Circle, he endowed the Ernest R. Norville Chair in Biomedical Engineering in honor of his father. He serves on the Clemson University Foun-dation Board of Directors, the President’s Advisory Board and the Advancement Board for Real Estate Development.
The eye of the needle
At 6 feet and 135 pounds, James Warren “Jimmy” Addison ’68 didn’t see himself as a potential college football star. Fortunately, Coach Fred Cone thought differently and recruited the young man known as “the Needle.” Addison went on to capture honors including All ACC Quarterback, S.C. Athlete of the Year and an NCAA Post-graduate Scholarship. Three ACC Championships helped cement his membership in the Athletic Hall of Fame.
His determination on the field was matched in the classroom and in ROTC. A member of Scabbard and Blade, he graduated with both the Norris Medal and the Algernon Sidney Sullivan Award. He went on to law school at the University of Virginia and now chairs the Commercial Real Estate Section at Troutman Sanders LLP.
Addison has served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors and the Advancement Board for the School of Humanities. He also established the Virginia and Bill Addison Endowment for the Humanities and has served as chair of Clemson’s Athletic Hall of Fame. In addition, Addison has given much of his recent time to the Clemson University Foundation Board.
Paving the way to success
Russell Carlton Ashmore Jr. ’50 has always had a way of turning roadblocks into opportunities — in athletics and academics, professionally and personally. When his football career ended for medical reasons, he served as an Army cadet and focused on his studies. When his pre-med dreams met a queasy stomach, he still found ways to provide medical care, both here and abroad, to those unable to afford it.
After graduation, Ashmore served in the U.S. Army and the Reserves, then returned to Clemson to pursue his interest in ceramic engineering, after which he took a position at General Shale in Tennessee. While on his way up the corporate ladder, he was convinced to return to the family business in grading, paving and excavation. He not only helped guide the family business, but also served as an industry leader.
For more than five decades, Ashmore has been a member of IPTAY and an annual donor to the Clemson Fund. An active supporter of Clemson Corps, he was one of the principal organizers and fundraising chair for the Military Heritage Plaza and Cadet Monument. President of the Class of 1950, he is co-founder of the Taylors Clemson Touring Club — the originators of orange overalls at football games.
“There’s never been a Duckworth who didn’t want to win,” says Edgar James “Ed” Duckworth ’61. But as competitive as he may be, Duckworth believes that it’s not winning or losing that matters in the long run, but how you play the game. And though he is a supporter of Clemson athletics, it is the philosophy of “One Clemson” that has captured his heart.
Duckworth graduated with a degree in civil engineering, then transitioned into the world of finance, where he has had a 40-year career in the securities industry as a broker, dealer and financial adviser. He is currently the senior member of an elite group of financial advisers for Morgan Stanley in Atlanta.
A member of the Clemson University Foundation Board of Directors, Duckworth is vice chair of the finance committee and a member of the Will to Lead National Campaign Committee. He was instrumental in helping the Atlanta Clemson Club fund the Clemson Tiger Paw license plate in Georgia, and continues to support IPTAY, Clemson Fund, alumni activities and the Class of 1961. He and his family recently made a major contribution to build the Duckworth Family Pavilion to support Clemson’s tennis teams.