Gift honors family that once owned Dail House

A recent gift to the ECU Foundation by James L. “Jim” Ratledge ’51 of Roswell, Georgia, came with a note that shines light on an era when the Dail House–the official residence of East Carolina presidents and chancellors for six decades—was actually known as the Young House.

Ratledge’s $10,000 gift to the foundation honors an aunt and uncle—the late Anne and Willoughby F. “Red” Young. A prominent Greenville family, the Youngs owned what we call the Dail House for 10 years.

When he graduated high school in 1947, Ratledge’s parents enrolled him in ECTC and shipped him off to live with his aunt and uncle in Greenville. As a small town boy from the western part of the state, moving into the mansion on Fifth Street was a cultural shock.

“I remember walking into their house for the first time, and I was just awed at how big it was, and how tastefully decorated it was,” says Ratledge. “They were such nice people, always helping somebody. They took me in and gave me a home and really made college possible for me. Looking back on it now, it was their help and loving support that put me on the right track in college.”

Ratledge lived with the Youngs and their two children for two years. In 1949 the Youngs sold their home to East Carolina and moved to Durham to be close to their daughter, Bettie Ann Young Doebler, after she enrolled at Duke University. She is now is a professor emeritus at Arizona State University.

“When I was a teenager,” Doebler recalls, “sometimes six or eight of us would take our sheets outside (and sleep on) the roof over the sun room–there was no air conditioning in those days. In (the living room) was a baby grand piano that my grandmother gave me, and I often played hymns and sang for the family.”

The Youngs’ other child, William Foster “Billy” Young ’66 came back to Greenville for college, and then settled in Charlotte.

The Youngs were generous to others in their extended family. When Mary Anne Howard ’73 of Raleigh, a niece of the Youngs, was in high school in Greenville, her mother died. The Youngs took her in, just as they had done for Ratledge.

About a dozen years ago Ratledge was back on campus for an event and asked about seeing the home where he lived for two years.

“The chancellor was Dick Eakin then, and when I called him he said come right on over, and he gave me a tour of the place. And it looked exactly like it did in 1947 when I first walked through the door.”

The Chancellor’s Residence was built in 1921 by William Haywood Dail Jr. He owned a brick-making company in Greenville that supplied the brick for the original six buildings on campus. It’s because of his role in East Carolina’s early years that the home bears his name.

A complete history of the Dail House was written by Gladys Howell in 1987 upon the retirement of her husband, Chancellor John Howell. It can be downloaded here.

– Steve Tuttle

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Alumni Association seeking survey responses

The East Carolina Alumni Association will conduct a 10-minute alumni survey asking about experiences as students and as alumni.  The survey link will be distributed by e-mail and will be open until March 23.

Alumni are encouraged to check to see if the Alumni Association has their current e-mail address.

For additional information about the survey visit https://piratealumni.wordpress.com/2015/02/20/alumni-survey-coming-up/.

 

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ECU graduate to use grant to fund Project Opera Camp

Brenton O’Hara, left, and Kate McKinney (Submitted photo)

Brenton O’Hara, left, and Kate McKinney (Submitted photo)

A recent ECU music graduate will use a $20,000 prize from the University of South Carolina to fund a non-profit that will introduce opera to disadvantaged children.

Brenton O’Hara, who graduated in 2013 and who is now enrolled in the master’s degree in opera theater program at USC, was half of a team that won the Maxient Social Impact prize. The prize was one of several awarded on Nov. 18 as part of USC’s annual Proving Ground entrepreneurial competition. Working on the project with O’Hara was his girlfriend, recent USC music graduate Kate McKinney.

O’Hara and McKinney will use the money to support a non-profit organization they founded, Project Opera Camp, which seeks to promote life skills among underserved children through the arts. O’Hara said the camp will accommodate about 40 elementary and middle school-age children from Charleston, South Carolina and will run the first two weeks of June. In September, the organization will offer after-school arts programs in Charleston schools.

O’Hara said campers will be nominated by teachers at schools with a high percentage of students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

Using opera as a vehicle to teach life skills, classes will include skills not typically taught in the classroom like wellness and yoga, leadership seminars and team-building exercises. The camp will culminate with performances of a children’s opera that will demonstrate participants’ self-esteem and allow them to express themselves in an artistic way, O’Hara said.

O’Hara said the couple chose Charleston as the site of the camp because they developed ties to the arts community there after volunteering at last year’s Spoleto Festival.

O’Hara is a native of Pinehurst. While at ECU, he was president of the Student Forum for Musical Organizations.

– Steve Tuttle

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Named to high school hall of fame

Tynita Butts (Photo courtesy of Alexandria News)

Tynita Butts (Photo courtesy of Alexandria News)

Tynita Butts, the record-setting high jumper on ECU’s track and field team who won the Penn Relays twice and was named an NCAA All-American six times, was inducted into her high school’s sports hall of fame. The ceremony was held Dec. 8 at T.C. Williams High School in her hometown of Alexandria, Virginia.

Butts graduated last May with a degree in sociology and a concentration in marriage and family relations. She is working at an athletic clothing retailer in Washington, D.C., while pursuing professional sports.

She tied for second in the high jump at the NCAA track and field championships in Eugene, Ore., last June. That’s the highest-ever finish by an ECU athlete at the NCAA nationals. She finished her ECU career as the school record holder in both the high jump (1.91-meters) and long jump (6.22-meters). She qualified for the NCAA Championships every year in which she competed at the collegiate level.

During her high school career she was a two-time Virginia state champion and two-time Penn Relays champion in the jumping events. She was honored as The Washington Post’s Track and Field Athlete of the Year as well as Gatorade Athlete of the Year.

Ranked first in the nation in the high jump and second in the long jump her last season as a Pirate, Butts recorded four first-place finishes in the high jump and won the event at the 2014 Conference USA Outdoor Championships.

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Alumni Scholarship Applications Due Jan. 30

The East Carolina Alumni Association is accepting applications for Alumni Scholarships for the 2015-2016 school year through Jan. 30.

New this year, applications must be submitted online through the ECU Online Scholarship Management System. No paper applications will be accepted. To receive a scholarship, students must be able to attend the Scholarship Luncheon on April 25.

Approximately 20-25 scholarships of $1,000 or $2,500 are available. Recipients must be registered as a full-time undergraduates with at least 12 credit hours and a 3.0 GPA. Students should demonstrate service and leadership in the university and community.

Applications must be accompanied by a signed letter of recommendation and a creative expression, both of which can be completed and/or uploaded through the online system.

Since 2005, the Alumni Scholarship program has awarded 197 scholarships totaling more than $260,000.

For more information, visit Piratealumni.com/scholarships.

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