BUIES CREEK – Campbell University added the title “distinguished” to five alumni during Homecoming 2012 festivities on Oct. 19.
The five, whose graduation dates range from 1936 to 2002, were joined by friends, family, Campbell alumni and University administration and honored during a dinner in the Alumni Room of Marshbanks Dining Hall. Each year, Campbell recognizes alumni who have distinguished themselves in their professional careers and in their service to their alma mater.
Added to the list of Distinguished Alumni were Mary Catherine Cheek Hall (’36), Cecelia “Seeky” Wilkins Gregory (’70), William “Bill” Pully (’79 Law), Mikeal C. Parsons (’80) and Wesley “Trey” Waters III (’02 Pharmacy).
MARY CATHERINE CHEEK HALL
“The best things come to those who wait,” joked 1936 Campbell alumna Mary Catherine Cheek Hall.
Hall attended then Campbell Junior College during the Great Depression, and after accepting the title of Distinguished Alumna, told the story of how she left her family’s farm, worked for a clothing company as a “twister” and saved anywhere between $10 and $15 to be able to afford college.
“We were fortunate to have plenty of food, clothing and shelter [during the Depression], but we had no money for college,” Hall said. “But I did have ambition. And I guess that ambition is what helped me. I didn’t know how I was going to college, but I was going.”
While a student at Campbell, she was active in Delta Kappa Gamma, was president of the Baptist Student Union, sang in the Glee Club and was recognized as the Most Outstanding Female Student in 1936.
After graduation , Hall continued her educational pursuits at the East Carolina Teachers College. She then returned home to Saxapahaw, where she began her teaching career at Saxapahaw Elementary School. In 1943, she married the late Dr. Joseph Cullen Hall, a physician and fellow Campbell Junior College classmate.
Hall taught in Union Cross for three years before moving to Salisbury, where she served as a special education teacher and worked with mentally-challenged children for 12 years at Wiley Elementary School.
In addition to her work in the classroom, Hall was also active in her community, serving as a volunteer in the medical auxiliary and at her church, First United Methodist, in Salisbury. She has ministered in numerous areas, including teaching in Sunday school, singing in the Chancel Choir and playing hand chimes to enhance her church’s corporate worship experience.
She and her late husband created the J.C. Hall and Mary Catherine Cheek Hall Endowed Scholarship Trust at Campbell, and most recently Hall provided funding for the simulation lab for the new School of Osteopathic Medicine. The new lab will be named the J. Cullen and Mary Catherine Cheek Hall Simulation Lab.
“Campbell is home to me,” Hall said. “Even though I went on to East Carolina Teachers College, I always felt like Campbell was my true home. It just meant so much to me. So it’s good to come back home.”
Mary and Cullen Hall had four children: Martha, Patricia, Joseph and William. She has six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Cecelia “Seeky” Wilkins Gregory of Lillington also grew up on a farm.
And while she knew farm life wasn’t for her in the long term, she’s thankful for the work ethic it instilled in her.
“I knew there was a better life beyond our farm,” said Gregory, a 1970 graduate of Campbell Senior College, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in intermediate education. “So I came to Campbell, which taught me well and prepared me to be a teacher, which I always wanted to be.”
Twelve years after leaving Campbell, Gregory received her master’s in intermediate education with a concentration in math; and in 1986, she returned to Campbell and received her certification in educational administration. She continued her education at East Carolina University, where she received her sixth-year education specialist degree in educational administration in 1992.
Today, Gregory is the human resources director for the Harnett County School System. She started her career in Harnett County as a math teacher in 1970. In 1985, she was named Math Teacher of the Year. She taught students from grades 7 through 12 at Anderson Creek School and served as the media coordinator for one year.
She then moved to central office and served as the director of middle grades education prior to being named the human resources director. Gregory has been honored twice as Harnett County Educational Office Personnel Administrator of the Year, and also as Harnett County Schools’ 2001 Employee of the Year.
She is an active member of Alpha Delta Kappa as well as a charter member and the first president of the Gamma Pi Chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa, an organization dedicated to encouraging female educators.
“I know I would not be where I am today if I had not received the education I got from Campbell,” Gregory said. “I appreciate how the school has always supported me in everything I’ve done. And I appreciate how Campbell not only provided me with an education, but a good Christian education. This school’s standards have always been held so high, and they’ve always been maintained.”
Gregory and her husband Steven, also a Campbell alumnus, are active members at Pleasant Union Christian Church where Cecilia has served as a Sunday school teacher and was the church treasurer for 26 years. The two are active in their community and are faithful financial supporters of Campbell University.
WILLIAM ‘BILL’ PULLY
One story William “Bill” Pully loves to share — a story he says his family has heard countless times — is how former Campbell President and law school founder Norman A. Wiggins told him he wasn’t putting in the effort he needed to graduate from law school.
“Dr. Wiggins was determined to see that everyone passed the bar exam,” said Pully. “And, of course, we were petrified of him. He was disciplined and incredibly driven, and law school was very, very difficult.”
For Pully, that meeting with Wiggins was the right amount of “fear” he needed to make it. In 1979, he became a member of the school’s first graduating class.
“To this day, I think finishing Campbell Law School is one of the greatest accomplishments of my life,” he said.
The 2012 Campbell Distinguished Alumnus started his career practicing law in his native Rocky Mount. But he soon turned his attention to politics, working for U.S. Rep. Tim Valentine and gubernatorial candidate Lauch Faircloth.
In 1984, Pully was offered a position as a lobbyist with the North Carolina Hospital Association and today remains with this organization. In 1999, he became the group’s president, and he and his team have worked diligently to transform health care delivery in North Carolina.
In addition to his law degree from Campbell University, Bill received his B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He also serves on a number of nonprofit boards, including the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust Healthcare Division Advisory Council.
Bill and his wife, Dale, reside in Raleigh where they are members of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church. They are the parents of three sons: Will, who entered Campbell Law School in August 2012; Alex, a second-year student at Campbell Law School; and Robert, a May 2012 graduate of Hampden-Sydney College.
Thirty-six years ago, Mikeal Parsons sat in a classroom taught by then religion professor Dr. Jerry Wallace (now president of Campbell University).
What Wallace told Parsons and his classmates during the first class has stuck with him ever since.
“Dr. Wallace said, ‘The Bible is not a history book. Although, it certainly narrates God’s might acts of history,’” Parsons said. “He said, ‘It’s not a science book, though it does bear witness to God’s redemptive work with his creation.’ He paused and then told us, ‘What the Bible is … is a book of faith.’
“Of course,” Parsons added, “I was hooked.”
Now a 2012 Distinguished Alumnus, Parsons has followed in Wallace’s footsteps and is a renowned professor of biblical studies and New Testament and Macon Chair of Religion at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.
A 1980 graduate of Campbell, Parsons received his Bachelor of Arts degree in religion. While attending Campbell, he was one of the first Campbell students to participate in an exchange program with the South Wales Baptist College in Cardiff, Wales, and spent a year studying there.
After his studies at Campbell, Parsons attended the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., where he received his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees. He then joined the Baylor University Department of Religion faculty in 1986 as a professor of New Testament.
Parsons is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and served as the Southwest Region President in 2006. He was also president of the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion in 2006.
Parsons currently serves as editor of Perspectives in Religious Studies and is one of two series editors for the Paideia Commentaries on the New Testament.
Parsons is a world-renowned, top research scholar in the area of Luke and Acts. He and his wife, Heidi J. Hornik, a professor of Italian Renaissance Art History at Baylor, have collaborated on several books bringing together the worlds of Theology and Italian Renaissance and Baroque Painting.
“I am grateful, profoundly so, for the foundation Campbell has provided me, the intellectual and moral resources, the friendships and the ability to manage difficulties and successes that come through the struggle,” Parsons said. “Ad astra per aspera, indeed.”
A native of North Carolina, Parsons has four children: Lauren Parsons Weber, assistant professor of music at Minnesota State University; Kelsey Parsons, second-year student at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Dental School; Mikeal Joseph Parsons, sophomore at Midway High School; and Matthew Quincy Parsons, a freshman at Midway High School.
WESLEY WATERS III
In just 10 years since leaving Buies Creek, Wesley “Trey” Waters III has become owner or partner of six pharmacies in North and South Carolina.
A 2002 graduate of the Campbell’s then School of Pharmacy, Waters has also completed a fellowship in anti-aging regenerative and functional medicine and is currently pursuing a master’s in functional and regenerative medicine.
His advanced studies have equipped him to deal not only with pharmaceuticals, but he is helping his patients understand the value of using nutraceuticals and homeopathics as well.
With all of that success, Waters said he was “very, very humbled” to be named a Distinguished Alumnus of Campbell University.
“From a very early age, my parents told me every single day I was somebody,” Waters said. “They always told me to save my money and work hard, and I can do anything. All I had to do was believe it. And I did. That’s how I got to where I am today.”
Hall said he knew he’d need a good work ethic to succeed. He told the story of one of his first jobs out of college, where he asked the manager what the pharmacy’s hours were.
“He said Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, 10 to 6,” Waters said. “I said, ‘I’ll take it.’”
For two years, Waters worked approximately 77 hours a week. At the age of 25, he purchased his first pharmacy.
Today, in an effort to increase the health and welfare of his constituents, he has instituted a healthy aging and wellness program at all of his pharmacies. He also routinely provides consultations with his patients on a variety of subjects, including weight loss, hormone imbalance, ADD/ADHD, thyroid health, pain management and other timely subjects.
Waters is actively involved with Campbell and currently serves on the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences Dean’s Board of Advisors. He also serves on the North Carolina Mutual Retail Advisory Board and is a member of Professional Compounding Centers of America, American Pharmacists Association, International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists and the Guild, a group of functional medicine eye doctors and compounding pharmacists.
“I was a 3.0 graduate, not a 4.0 grad,” Waters said. “I guess that makes me a lifetime learner. I learn every single day, and I want to continue to learn every single day.”
Photo by Bennett Scarborough: (From left, Mikeal Parsons, Cecilia Gregory, Campbell President Dr. Jerry Wallace, Mary Catherine Cheek Hall, William “Bill” Pully and Wesley “Trey” Waters III)