(l. to r.) (front) George Gravitt, John Wade, Bob Doggett, Ann Parker, Bernie Jones, Dick Faris, Jim Bergdoll, (back) Henry Riley, Charles Shank, Bev Carter, Frank Wood, Tom Luckam, Don Young, Tom Jennings and Dick Forrester.
(l.to r.) (front) Dick Faix, John Viccellio, Bagwell Goode, Courtney Taylor, Jim Allen, (back) Bill Boice, John Clarke, John Sowers, Doug Lawson, and Don Traylor
It all started when Lawson, the 50th Reunion Gift Chair, made an impassioned plea in August 2006 to the Reunion Committee. "I got up and told the group, ‘I think we can beat the previous class gift record of $700,000. In fact, I think we can raise more than $1 million," he explained. "Of course, I’ve always been a believer that if you’re going to open your big fat mouth, you ought to put your money there."
And that’s exactly what Lawson did. He backed up his words with a $25,000 challenge gift. Not to be outdone, several classmates followed suit. One year later, 41 of the 76 surviving members of the class of 1957 had raised more than $800,000.
The night before the Reunion Committee was to present a check for $1 million to the college during Homecoming Weekend, Lawson issued an eleventh-hour challenge. “I urged my classmates to go home and ponder whether they could give a little more.” Five people came forward and increased their gifts by $50,000, pushing the class of 1957 even deeper into record-setting territory. When all was said and done, the Class of 1957 raised a grand total of $1,640,891.
Along the way it broke other records in participation percentage, class project total and planned giving total. The lion’s share of this gift will be used to create and support the Class of 1957 Scholarship, a project particularly close to Lawson’s heart.
"When I attended Randolph-Macon, it was completely on scholarship. I would not have received a college education if it were not for the people before me who invested and had faith in future generations of students. Looking back, I understand this legacy of giving and gratitude was the foundation of my life’s work. I learned not only about giving to people who gave to me but also about getting others to give."
Indeed, Lawson parlayed his experience into a distinguished fundraising career that included a stint as vice president of development for Randolph-Macon College. In 1969 he founded Lawson Associates, Inc., which has helped non-profit organizations around the world raise more than $3 billion.
President Robert Lindgren was thrilled with the gift and the work accomplished by the Class of 1957. “The class of 1957 has created a terrific example for future classes of how a small number of alumni can have a significant impact on the life and spirit of Randolph-Macon College."