(l. to r.): Vice president for College Advancement Diane Lowder, Connie Birdsong,
Tom Birdsong III '49 and R-MC President Robert R. Lindgren
Randolph-Macon College presented the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award to Tom Birdsong
III ’49 and the Mary Mildred Sullivan award to Connie Birdsong on Wednesday, November
4, 2009 at a reception held at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts in Suffolk,
Everett Birdsong ’84 welcomed guests and introduced R-MC President Robert R. Lindgren,
who spoke about the state of the college and formally recognized the Birdsong family.
Diane Lowder, the vice president for college advancement, read the citation for
the Sullivan awards.
Lowder presented the Birdsongs with the awards to a crowd of alumni, parents and
friends. “Our recipients embody the key traits of the Sullivans, for whom the awards
are named: a humble service to others that goes beyond self-interest, spending themselves
in the interest of mankind,” she said. “Through their generous gifts, Tom and Connie
Birdsong, along with the Birdsong Family and the Birdsong Corporation, have made
a substantial impact on the life of Randolph-Macon College. They have supported
the Birdsong Peaks of Excellence Center, the Birdsong Townhouses and the Birdsong
Field House. Most recently, they have pledged to support a new residence hall and
improvements in athletic facilities. I join the entire R-MC community in thanking
the Birdsongs for their incredibly generous support of Randolph-Macon College.”
Algernon Sydney Sullivan was a late-19th-century New York lawyer who was a founding
partner of the Sullivan Cromwell law firm. He was a noted philanthropist whose generosity
touched the lives of many people. Mary Mildred Sullivan, born and reared in Winchester,
Virginia, was known as an extraordinary woman whose philanthropic energies helped
to establish schools in the Appalachian region.
A trustee emeritus of Randolph-Macon, Tom Birdsong III served on the R-MC Board
of Trustees for two terms, from 1981-1994 and from 1995-2001. He also served as
the president of the Boydton Society and as a member of the Board of Directors of
the Society of Alumni. He continues service to the college as a member of the Presidential
After graduating from Randolph-Macon in 1949 with a bachelor’s degree in history,
Birdsong served for two years in the United States Navy. Since that time, he has
been associated with Birdsong Peanuts and the Birdsong Corporation, where he serves
as chairman of the board. The Birdsong Corporation is the largest privately-owned
peanut sheller in the United States, with operations in Texas, Georgia, Florida,
Alabama, North Carolina and Virginia.
The Birdsongs’ generosity extends beyond Randolph-Macon. They have endowed a scholarship
in the hydrology program at Tarleton State University, where Birdsong is a trustee
emeritus. The Birdsongs have also served on numerous boards and supported causes
in the Suffolk and Stephenville, Texas communities and in the United Methodist Church.