In Memoriam – Clyde Thomas ‘Tom the Jazzman’ Mallison

'Tom the Jazzman' Mallison (Photo by Cliff Hollis)

‘Tom the Jazzman’ Mallison
(Photo by Cliff Hollis)

Clyde Thomas “Tom the Jazzman” Mallison of Greenville, a benefactor of Joyner Library who was widely known for his music program on Public Radio East, died Sept. 6. He succumbed from injuries suffered in a car wreck that occurred shortly after he had completed his show on WTEB New Bern. He was 75.

Mallison, who graduated from East Carolina University in 1966 and was SGA president that year, worked at the Du Pont plant in Kinston for 32 years before retiring in 1998. He hosted the Sunday night jazz program on WTEB for more than 30 years. Before he began his show with WTEB, he broadcast with WOOW AM in Greenville and WITN FM.

In 2009, Mallison donated thousands of jazz music albums from his personal collection to Joyner Library. The recordings span a variety of the sub-genres of jazz, including ragtime, Dixieland, bebop, free, and fusion. The collection now resides in the ECU Music Library.

The Alumni Association honored him with its Distinguished Alumni Service Award in 1998 and its Robert Wright Society Leadership Award. He was a former member of the ECU Board of Visitors, a member of the Chancellor’s Society, a member of the College of Education Advancement Council and a former president of the S. Rudolph Alexander Performing Arts Series.

He is survived by two children and his wife, Frances Mallison, an ECU graduate who is a retired librarian with the Pitt County Schools.

Memorial contributions may be made to Public Radio East, 800 College Court, New Bern, N.C., or First Presbyterian Church Youth Projects Fund, 1400 S. Elm St., Greenville, N.C.


In Memoriam – Dr. Charles E. Stevens

Dr. Charles E. Stevens of Greenville, who taught piano at East Carolina University for 30 years before accepting emeritus status in 1990, died Sept. 4. He was 89. Stevens, who received his master’s degree in music at ECU in 1954 and his doctorate in music from UNC Chapel Hill in 1957, was dean of the School of Music for the last six years of his tenure.



He recently was honored for more than 50 years of service to the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia national music fraternity.

Survivors include daughters Margaret Mauney of Winston-Salem, a 1976 ECU graduate, and Mary Charles Jenkins, a 1979 graduate, and son-in-law Jack Jenkins, a 1978 graduate, both of Morehead City.

Memorial contributions can be made to the Charles E. and Margaret S. Stevens Endowment, ECU Foundation, 2200 S. Charles Blvd., Greenville, NC 27858.

— Steve Tuttle


In Memoriam – Dr. Linner Ward Griffin

Dr. Linner Ward Griffin, emeritus professor of social work, passed away unexpectedly this past Sunday, July 5.

Funeral services will be held on Friday, July 17, at 2 p.m. at Brown Funeral Home in Greensboro.   A memorial service will be held in Greenville on Saturday, July 18, 11 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 1400 South Elm Street.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations to the ECU School of Social Work Scholarship Fund.  Checks may be sent to the ECU Foundation, 2200 S. Charles Blvd., Suite 1100, Greenville, NC.  Please indicate the purpose of the donation.  Cards and condolences can be sent to:  Mr. Bobby Griffin, 311 Beech Cove Drive, Grimesland, N. C. 27837.

Dr. Griffin began at ECU as an assistant professor of social work in January, 1990 and progressed through the academic ranks to professor of social work in 2000.  She served in a number of administrative capacities including interim dean of Social Work and Criminal Justice, interim dean of the School of Communication, interim associate vice chancellor and later associate vice chancellor for academic programs.  In 2010 her title was changed to associate provost for academic program planning and development and she held that that position until her retirement in 2013.  She was granted emeritus professor status upon her retirement.


In Memoriam – Jimmy Grimsley



Dr. Jimmy Grimsley, ECU alumnus and faculty emeritus, passed away Jan. 28. He was 70.

Grimsley joined the ECU faculty in 1967 to teach and serve as head coach of both tennis and soccer for men. Following a brief leave of absence to earn his doctoral degree from the University of Georgia in 1972, he returned to ECU, where he continually taught for more than 40 years in the Department of Kinesiology.

He was known for his outstanding memory, student advising and mentoring of former students. He was a mentor and friend to his colleagues. His sincerity and practical advice were valued by many.

As an associate professor, he served as director of graduate studies, director of clinical experiences, and coordinator of physical education programs. He contributed significantly to the University through his service on search, accreditation and other committees, including the President’s Advisory Committee, Faculty Senate, and the Graduate School.

He was a strong supporter of ECU and Pitt County Schools athletics. He served as the scoreboard operator at ECU football and basketball games for several decades.

Above all else, he cared about students and was a strong and effective student advocate. He leaves a legacy as a caring, knowledgeable, well-loved professor, who understood the field of physical education. He will be missed in the hallways of Minges Coliseum.

Gifts may be made payable to the ECU Foundation, Inc. for The Jimmie Grimsley Scholarship and mailed to:

Tammy C. Garris

Greenville Centre, Room 2211

East Carolina University

2200 South Charles Blvd.

Greenville, NC 27858

Mail Stop 301


In Memoriam – James Davenport

A familiar face around campus, James Davenport is shown at right during a reception for fellow ECU employee Nellie Taylor. (Contributed photo)

A familiar face around campus, James Davenport is shown at right during a reception for fellow ECU employee Nellie Taylor. (Contributed photo)

James Davenport from the East Carolina University Department of Materials Management died Jan. 21 after a lengthy illness.

He had worked with ECU for 25 years. Many faculty and staff came to know Davenport as the person who delivered office supplies for Central Stores and Receiving.

He also worked with Event One at athletic events and concerts at ECU venues for a number of years. He was also an avid Pirate fan.


ECU to hold candlelight vigil

A candlelight vigil for Jonathon Bennett will be held at 9 p.m. April 25.

The event will be held in the Student Memorial Garden across from Mendenhall Student Center.

Bennett was killed Wednesday morning following a fall from a tree near University Manor apartments in Greenville. Bennett was an ECU geographic information science and technology major from Wilson, an ECU Student Ambassador and a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity.


ECU community mourns loss of instructor

By Kathryn Kennedy and Jeannine Manning Hutson
ECU News Services

Co-workers and students of East Carolina University teaching instructor Debbie O’Neal are grieving this week following her death March 31.

She and her husband – both rated pilots – were killed when their fixed-wing Lancair LC-42 aircraft crashed in a Winston-Salem residential neighborhood after experiencing engine trouble, a National Traffic Safety Board official told media on Monday.

Funeral services are scheduled for 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 3 at Rock Springs Center, 4025 N.C. Highway 43 N, Greenville.

An additional memorial service was held Tuesday, April 2 at the Washington Eye Center, where her husband, Dennis, worked.

O’Neal came to ECU in 2004, and this semester she was teaching three sections of English composition in the classroom and two distance-education sections of English grammar.

Department of English Chair Jeffrey Johnson spent Tuesday meeting with students in O’Neal’s classes, accompanied by staff from the ECU counseling center. He said the students were “taking it hard,” and many asked if they could reach out to her family.

“Her students know how invested she was in them,” Johnson said. “She was really outgoing, full of energy and ideas, generous with her time. All these qualities of hers…make (the loss) even harder.”

O’Neal was very involved in the ECU Language Academy, which provides intensive English-language instruction to international students and professionals. She also worked with the College of Education by developing ways to integrate English as a second language (ESL) teacher education into existing curriculum.

Marjorie Ringler, associate professor in the College of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership, said she and O’Neal worked closely for years. “We were inseparable at work and as friends as well,” Ringler said Tuesday.

O’Neal was a linguist and Ringler works on partnerships with principals and school districts; together they were a great team, Ringler said. The pair recently attended an international conference in Dallas, presenting their success in teaching English as a second language in a rural eastern North Carolina school.

O’Neal engaged her classroom students as well, Ringler said, and held them to high standards.

“In the Department of English, she saw her students as her kids,” Ringler continued. “She was a mother to them because (she taught) the freshman composition class.”

She added that O’Neal kept in touch with many students and would get Facebook and email messages about how she had changed their lives. “She made sure everybody knew that she cared,” Ringler said.

“She lived life to the fullest. She was a pilot, made her own jewelry, and was always in touch with her three kids. She skied as well. What did she not do? And she tackled everything head on.”


In Memoriam – Dr. Ronald Lewis Thiele

Former Allied Health dean Dr. Ronald Lewis Thiele died Feb. 19 in Santa Rosa, Calif.

Thiele served as dean of the School of Allied Health for 25 years, building excellence in physical therapy, audiology, epidemiology and medical records programs. He retired in 1996 and moved to Santa Rosa to be near family.

He is survived by his devoted companion, Valerie Reid of Santa Rosa, and his three children Ron Jr., Eric and Judi, five grandchildren and one great grandson. Before joining ECU, Thiele served in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps, as a pediatrician in Concord, Calif. and as director of  Clover Bottom Hospital and School in Donelson, Tenn.