Melba Lennon Hinson Williams endows scholarship at SCC

Monday, April 25th, 2016

Alumni of Southeastern Community College show great allegiance to their college.  Melba Lennon Hinson Williams is one of those alumna.  In 2002 Melba made an initial gift of EXXON stock to the SCC Foundation.  The stock was sold to establish a trust in Williams’ name.  The intent was for the initial gift to build, through regular contributions by Williams, in order to establish an endowed scholarship to benefit SCC students.

When making the gift, Williams’ instructions to the BB&T Trust Officer were, “I would like to keep this initial gift confidential, I don’t want a ‘fuss’ made over the gift. My intent is for the gift to be used to provide Columbus County students with the financial assistance needed to attend SCC.”

Williams was among the first students to attend SCC after it opened its doors in 1964.  The fledgling college presented the first opportunity for Williams to pursue a higher education.  As a result, the education she received at SCC put Melba in the position to make a gift to the Foundation.  Williams shared her story, which is a familiar one considering the era in which she was born.

“In July of 1929, I became the second child of nine born to H. Grady and Lalan Tart Lennon.  We lived in the Western Prong Township in Columbus County.  We didn’t have electricity, plumbing or a telephone.  All of my twelve years of schooling was done by lamp light.  My first years of school were in a one-room building that housed six grades. The consolidation of schools in North Carolina happened in 1937.  I rode an unheated school bus to Whiteville High School for eleven years. Mr. Bruton was our principal and in 1945, hired me to work in the school store.  I lived 10 miles from Whiteville and needed to earn money. I worked there until I graduated in 1947,” Williams concluded.

In 1948, she was hired by M. G. Isley, the principal of Whiteville Elementary School as an office clerk. Isley was impressed with Melba’s bookkeeping and office skills and suggested she pursue a banking career.  In 1952, she did just that. Hired as a proof machine officer by the original Waccamaw Bank officers, two years later she was promoted to a staff position. She worked under Henry Wyche, a trust officer at the bank.  Wyche was one of the founding fathers of SCC and always encouraged his employees to further their education at the local college.

Williams knew the importance of education and, with Wyche’s encouragement, finally enrolled in SCC in 1965. She fondly remembers two of her outstanding instructors, Nancy Smith Clifton who taught English, and the Reverend Jerry Wallace who taught English Literature. He also was the pastor of Elizabethtown Baptist Church.  Dr. Wallace went on to become president of Campbell University, recently retiring in 2015.

“I enjoyed my years at SCC so much,” Williams recalls. “I was in the choir under the instruction of Richard F. Burkhardt. Everyone was so excited about ‘our college’ and I was too.  After accumulating a year and a half of college credits, I was informed that Campbell College had established a new Business Degree of Trust Education, a degree not offered by any other college or university in the United States at that time.  I knew the degree was for me. I resigned my position as Trust Officer at Waccamaw Bank and in the spring of 1969 was accepted into Campbell’s program,” she said.

She graduated from Campbell in 1971, cum laude, number 15 in a class of 325. She was voted to Who’s Who Among College and University Students. The Campbell University administration never forgot Williams’ accomplishments and dedication to the college and in 2013 she was tapped to serve as a Trustee for Campbell University.  She takes great pride in serving in this position.

Williams’ education didn’t come easily but her education from both colleges served her well.  After graduation from Campbell, she was hired as assistant trust officer at Central Carolina Bank and Trust Company in Durham, NC.  She retired from CCB in 1986 as a vice-president and trust officer. Melba was indeed a pioneer in the field of trust banking for women.

Williams has continued to contribute to her trust at SCC and with a recent gift of $10,000, the trust has reached and exceeded the scholarship endowment status of $30,000. The Melba Lennon Hinson Williams Business Scholarship has been named.

“Melba Williams is a great friend to the SCC Foundation and to our students. She received an education, regardless of the hurdles that were placed in front of her.  How wonderful that she is giving back to Southeastern Community College, the college that set her on the path to success,” Executive Dean of Institutional Advancement Sue Hawks stated, “Melba and I both encourage other alumni to contribute to the SCC Foundation, the college that gives so much to so many.”

The SCC Foundation awards over 100 academic scholarships annually to deserving SCC students.  Donors are able to customize their scholarships per program, GPA and by choosing a name for the scholarship.  To start a conversation about naming a scholarship in honor or memory of a loved one, call the SCC Foundation Office at 642-7141, ext. 320 or 260.

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