Two Catawba College trustees and alumni receive Shuford Award
Two Catawba College trustees who are also alumni were honored by their alma mater on April 28 as recipients of the Adrian L. Shuford Jr. Award for Distinguished Service. Recipients included Larry T. Cloninger ’74 of Salisbury and Barry D. Leonard ’65 of Lexington.
College President Brien Lewis and Chair of the College Board of Trustees Darlene Ball made the presentations during a special President’s Circle Event held to recognize the institution’s major donors in Hedrick Theatre of the Robertson College-Community Center.
The Shuford Award is presented to individuals whose actions and generosity to both the college and their communities emulate those of the late Adrian L. Shuford Jr. of Conover, a businessman and a long-serving member of the College Board of Trustees. The President’s Award for Distinguished Service was first presented in 1983, but in 1984, the award was named to honor Shuford and in recognition of all he had done for the college.
A grateful Cloninger accepted the award, saying he has been “very, very blessed.” He gave credit for his success to “my mom and daddy and to the people of Rowan-Salisbury.”
“What we earn in life is really a living, but what we give to others is what life is all about,” Cloninger said. “I’ll do my very best to live up to this honor.”
Lewis described Cloninger as an entrepreneur who had “consistently supported Catawba with his resources.” He noted the First Family Scholarship that Cloninger had established at the college and his support for Catawba’s capital campaigns. The Cloninger Guest House at the college, Lewis said, “exists as a showplace on campus thanks to his generosity and foresight.”
Lewis also spoke about Cloninger’s role in the larger Salisbury-Rowan community and his support for organizations including the Boy Scouts, the Salisbury-Rowan Symphony, Waterworks Visual Art Gallery, Rowan Regional Medical Center, Salisbury Academy and the Cannon School.
A native of Gastonia, Cloninger came to Catawba as a transfer student from Wingate College (now University). At Catawba, he majored in accounting, was active in the Accounting Club, serving as vice president. He was also a dormitory counselor. His grades consistently earned him a place on the dean’s list.
His first job after college was working for an accounting firm in Lexington. He spent one and a half years in that position until he realized he wanted to change careers. He applied for several entry-level jobs with various automobile manufacturers, and was offered one with Ford’s Sales Division in Charlotte. In 1985, he bought City Motor Company in Salisbury, changed the name to Cloninger Ford and moved the business in 1988 to its current location on Jake Alexander Boulevard. Today, Cloninger serves as president and owner of that dealership which has expanded to become Cloninger Ford-Toyota. He also owns two other dealerships.
A member of the Board of Trustees since 2002, Cloninger was honored by the college with its Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2006.
Joking that he was “torn between surprise and confusion,” a smiling Barry Leonard accepted his Shuford Award.
“Catawba gave me the tools that I needed to be a successful person,” Leonard said. He recalled the words on the college seal – scholarship, character, culture and service – and said that two of those words had “set me apart from my peers.”
“The ‘character’ and ‘service’ were impressed on me. Doing the right thing over and over again has been very beneficial in my life.”
In making the award presentation to Leonard, Lewis noted Leonard’s loyalty to his alma mater. He said Leonard had created several scholarships at Catawba that pay tribute to individuals “who have played pivotal roles in his life and also influenced the lives of others.” Leonard, Lewis added, had also influenced others to follow his example and “lend support to Catawba College.”
He described Leonard as “the epitome of a self-made man” who had operated and sold a hosiery mill before starting up his own firm, Leonard and Company, Certified Public Accountants, in Greensboro. While a businessman and resident of Greensboro, Leonard was active in the community, serving as president of the Crescent Rotary Club and as a past elder and officer of Peace United Church of Christ. After he retired, Leonard moved back to his hometown of Lexington where he and wife Clara live.
“This is a man who is happy with his life and considers each day a blessing and a gift,” Lewis said of Leonard. “He learned early and has never forgotten the value of earning what you have.”
Working his way through college, Leonard earned his accounting degree from Catawba. After graduation, he worked with the U.S. General Accounting Office in Norfolk, Va., and then later for the Internal Revenue Service as an agent in the Charlotte office. He also was employed for a time by Bill Turlington and Company, a CPA office in Lexington.
His service to Catawba has included time spent on the College Board of Visitors. He joined the College Board of Trustees in 1999 and has served as its treasurer and as a member of its Finance Committee. He was honored with Catawba’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1998.
Other recipients and the year in which they received the award include Dr. Theodore P. Leonard, 1983; Enoch A. Goodman, 1984; Clifford A. Peeler, 1985; James F. Hurley, 1986; Ralph W. Ketner, 1987; Elizabeth C. Stanback, 1988; Roy E. Leinbach Jr., 1989; Frances H. Johnson, 1990; Patricia P. Rendleman, 1991; Mariam Cannon Hayes, 1992; Tom E. Smith, 1993; Claude S. Abernethy Jr., 1994; Millard F. Wilson, 1995; Fred J. Stanback Jr., 1996; Paul E. Fisher, 1997; Daniel E. Kirk, 1998; Mary O. Dearborn, 1999; Wilson L. Smith, 2000; Marion M. Richard, 2001; J. Fred and Bonnie Corriher, 2002; William C. Stanback, 2003; Jacqueline C. Leonard, 2004; Charles Taylor Jr., 2005; Newton O. Fowler and C.A. “Junie” Michael III, 2006; Claude B. Hampton Jr. and James L. Williamson, 2007; Charles G. Potts, Wade Hampton Shuford Jr., Dr. Robert E. and Brenda S. Knott, 2008; Robert and Sara Cook, 2009; Raymond and Shirley Ritchie and David E. “Gene” Fuller, 2010; Gordon P. Hurley and Martha Kirkland West, 2011; and Joseph B. Oxendine, 2012.