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Clemson Made Us Friends

When Megan Barnes ’01 was moving to New Orleans from Singapore for her job in the federal government, she didn’t know a soul. After a quick search of the Alumni Association’s website, she found the New Orleans Clemson Club, along with the contact information of the club’s then-president, Miles Thomas ’00.

Thomas chartered the club when he transferred his law practice to New Orleans from South Carolina in 2007. “The first [Clemson] game rolled around, and I didn’t have anybody to watch the games with,” Thomas says.

Barnes wrote Thomas an email from Singapore: “I’m very interested in meeting some fellow Tigers as I don’t know anyone in New Orleans! I look forward to hearing from you and hopefully meeting you and some other Clemson grads soon.” Thomas immediately invited her to the next watch party at the local watering hole Fat Harry’s on St. Charles Avenue.

After a couple of meetings, they became friends. “Miles started eating all of my food whenever I ordered at the bar,” Barnes laughs.

Barnes stayed in New Orleans for four years before she moved to Bogotá, Colombia. But she and Thomas kept in touch. When Thomas found out there was a Gamecock fan in Barnes’ office, he had the Alumni Association send her a box full of Clemson swag.

Eventually, Barnes had the opportunity to move to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and just like in New Orleans, she started attending the Grand Strand Clemson Club and connecting with fellow alumni. One of those connections introduced her to her future husband, Cory Johnson, a lifelong Clemson fan.

“I wanted Miles to like Cory because Miles has been like a brother to me,” Barnes says. She introduced Johnson to Thomas at a Clemson Football game at the top of the Hill, and when the couple got engaged, Barnes asked Thomas to officiate their wedding.

The result was a ceremony filled with laughter. “I threatened to do the Cadence Count in the middle of it,” Thomas laughs.

Now, Thomas is a member of the Alumni Association Board of Directors, but he’s still heavily involved with the New Orleans Clemson Club, something he considers a success evidenced by his relationship with Barnes: “Everything worked the way that I wanted it to because a person who was coming from the other side of the world, literally, found me by email. And Clemson made us friends.”

 

Ring Story: Preserving Her Memory

“We lost my mom four years ago in July,” Frances Mann Medley ’10 says.

In February 2020, the Mann family — including Frances and her family, her father, Stephen Mann ’78, and her brother, Thomas Mann ’06, M ’07, and his family — donated a 2020 Clemson class ring in the ladies dinner ring style to honor their wife and mother, Eleanor Hightower Mann ’78, who passed away in 2017. The donated ring also includes Eleanor’s sorority, Pi Beta Phi, which recently returned to the University’s Greek life.

Stephen and Eleanor met and fell in love when they were both students at Clemson. He was an agricultural mechanization and business major, and she was an elementary education major. After graduating, the couple got married and “put their roots down” in West Columbia, where they raised Frances and Thomas. Eleanor taught elementary kids for 33 years in the area and eventually saw both of her children graduate from her alma mater.

“We have a picture from my graduation day with all four of us with our rings turned,” Frances says. “Sweet memory.”

When asked about the donation, Stephen says it was something that would “last forever. [Clemson] was something that Eleanor was very involved with as a student and as an alumna. It is just a way to preserve her memory.”

Frances says donating the ring was the first time her whole family had been back to Clemson since her mother’s passing. It was a special trip. “When we come back and visit for years to come, when I take my kids as they get older and hopefully my grandkids,” she says, “they can visit the Alumni Center and find their grandmother’s name.”

 

Summer 2021 Club News

Cleanup Crew

The Golden Isles Clemson Club is responsible for keeping a 1.5-mile stretch of Kings Way, a major gateway into St. Simons Island, Georgia, free from litter. “Our goal is to collect as much litter as possible along both sides of the road,” wrote Skip Harvey ’71, “including paper, bottles, cigarette butts, metal cans, plastic containers and even car parts!” On March 16, 2021, Harvey and fellow club members Sean Huckeba ’08, Blase Grady ’87, Marlisa Grady ’88, Kim Sumner ’89* and Meghan Ozamiz ’09 spent about an hour and a half collecting seven garbage bags of litter.

Culinary Tour

The Baltimore/Washington, D.C., Clemson Club organized a culinary tour of Lebanese culture and cuisine on March 25, 2021, via Zoom. Owners of Lebanese Taverna, Grace Shea and Dany Abi-Najm, took the 27 participants through a chef-inspired tasting menu, including wine and dessert. The menu featured hummus, kibbeh, grape leaves, m’saka, tabouleh, ouzi and baklava. Proceeds supported the club’s local partner restaurants and their scholarship fund.

 

OTHER CLUB HAPPENINGS

Meal Clubs

The Alumni Association created a virtual version of their annual Meal Clubs events, which began in fall 2020 and continued into 2021. The Meal Clubs include the Greenville Luncheon Club, Second Century Club, Clemson in the Lowcountry and Hub City Friends of Clemson. Davis Babb, IPTAY CEO; Graham Neff, deputy athletic director; Delphine Dean, director of the Clemson COVID-19 Testing Lab; Dean Cox, the dean of libraries; and Leslie Hossfeld, dean of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Sciences, were just a few of the speakers who participated in the events, which covered topics ranging from pandemic updates to college overviews to Clemson Basketball.

Fall into Fitness

Clemson’s Women’s Alumni Council led “Fall into Fitness” in fall 2020, which encouraged activity and exercise in the name of the University. Proceeds of the program benefited the Women’s Alumni Council Endowed Scholarship, a Presidential Scholarship that provides several Universitywide scholarships each year that support students who might not otherwise be able to attend Clemson.