Clemson awarded its highest honor to two distinguished alumni
THE CLEMSON MEDALLION is presented to individuals who have rendered notable and significant service and support to the University and who exemplify the dedication and foresight of founder Thomas Green Clemson. Professor Emeritus Beverly “Ben” Skardon ’38 and Trustee Emeritus Allen Price Wood ’75 were honored with the Medallion at a presentation ceremony in February.
“Both of these men have helped shape the University in important ways,” said President James P. Clements. “Col. Skardon made a lasting impact by teaching countless students during his career, and students are being educated every day in buildings that Allen Wood designed. It is safe to say that our University would not be what it is today without these two outstanding leaders.”
BEVERLY “BEN” SKARDON ’38 Ben Skardon, a U.S. Army veteran, fought in the Philippines in World War II, earning two Silver Stars and a Bronze Star for valor before becoming a prisoner of war when American troops were forced to surrender to the Japanese on April 9, 1942. Skardon survived the Bataan Death March and more than three years in Japanese prison camps, despite becoming deathly ill. Two fellow Clemson alumni, Henry Leitner and Otis Morgan, kept him alive by spoon-feeding him and eventually trading his gold Clemson ring — which he had managed to keep hidden — for food. It is a story now told at every Clemson ring ceremony, when Clemson seniors receive their class rings.
Leitner and Morgan did not survive the war. Skardon honors them every year by walking in the Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.
After retiring from the Army at the rank of colonel in 1962, Skardon earned a master’s degree from the University of Georgia, then joined the Clemson faculty in the English department in 1964. He taught at Clemson until his retire-ment in 1983. Skardon has received several honors from the University, including the Alumni Distinguished Service Award. In 2013, the University established the Skardon Clemson Ring Endowment, which helps fund the ring ceremony, and in 2016 the Memorial Stadium flagpole was dedicated in his honor. On Skardon’s 100th birthday, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster presented him with the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest honor. In March 2018, Skardon received the Congressional Gold Medal honoring Filipino and American veterans of World War II.
ALLEN PRICE WOOD ’75 Allen Wood, who lives in Florence, South Carolina, and graduated from Clemson in 1975 with a degree in architecture, served on the University’s board of trustees from 1988 to 2003. He served as vice chair of the board from 1995 to 1997.
An architect by profession, Wood was chair of Moseley, Wilkins and Wood Architects of Florence before retiring in 2004. He designed and/or was the architect of record for several University buildings, including Lehotsky Hall, the CCIT Information Technology Center, and the Pee Dee Research and Education Center in Florence. Wood was an early proponent and supporter of the Charles E. Daniel Center for Building Research and Urban Studies, which opened in 1972 in Genoa, Italy.
He and his wife, Josie, endowed a fellowship to support architecture graduate students to spend a semester in Genoa or at the architectural program in Barcelona, Spain. He has been an active supporter of the Emerging Scholars program and played an important role in the creation of Clemson’s Wood Utilization + Design Institute.
He was honored for his service to the state with the Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest honor, in 1995, and Wood also received the University’s Alumni Distinguished Service Award in 1996.