FLORENCE---Two judges and a retired businessman will be awarded honorary degrees from Francis Marion University during fall commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, in the Smith University Center gymnasium.
Selected to receive honorary doctoral degrees are: A. Lee Chandler of Darlington, retired chief justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court; Matthew J. Perry Jr. of Columbia, senior U.S. District Judge, District of South Carolina; and W.C. Stanton of Cheraw, FMU trustee and businessman.
Judge Perry also will be the commencement speaker for the 227 candidates for FMU degrees. Candidates include 180 students for undergraduate degrees and 47 for graduate diplomas.
In 1975, Judge Perry was nominated by President Gerald Ford and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate as a judge on the U.S. Court of Military Appeals in Washington, D.C. In 1979, he was nominated by President Jimmy Carter and unanimously confirmed by the Senate as a U.S. District Judge for District of South Carolina. He took senior judge status in 1995.
A native of Columbia, Judge Perry is a graduate of S.C. State College (now S.C. State University), where he also earned a law degree. A veteran of the U.S. Army, Judge Perry is married to the former Hallie Bacote of Timmonsville, and they have one son. He is active in Zion Baptist Church in Columbia.
He is a member of the American Bar Association, Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Federal Judges Association, Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference, Richland County Bar Association, S.C. Bar Association, S.C. Trial Lawyers Association, American Board of Trial Advocates and an honorary member of the Federal Bar Association.
Judge Perry is a recipient of the William R. Ming Advocacy Award presented by the NAACP. He also was given the Distinguished Alumnus Award twice by S.C. State University in 1972 and 1980, named South Carolinian of the Year in 1977 by Cosmos Broadcasting Co., presented the Order of the Palmetto by Gov. Richard Riley in 1986, and received the Spirit of Excellence Award by the American Bar Association Commission on Opportunities for Minorities in 1998. He holds honorary degrees from Princeton University, S.C. State University, the University of South Carolina, Voorhees College and Lander University.
A native of Orangeburg, Justice Chandler retired as chief justice of the Supreme Court of South Carolina in 1995. After serving in the S.C. House of Representatives from 1973-1976, he was elected resident judge of the Fourth Judicial Circuit. After eight years on the Circuit Court bench, he was elected associate justice of the state Supreme Court and became chief justice in 1994.
Justice Chandler was a member of The Citadel’s Class of 1944 when the entire class was called to active duty in World War II. He was commissioned a second lieutenant and was wounded in action in Germany, receiving the Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
After the war, he graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1947. He practiced law in Greenville for five years, before moving to Darlington to become an active trial attorney. He became active in civic and community affairs, especially activities related to industrial development and technical education, securing several premium industries for Darlington County. He was a member and chairman of the Florence-Darlington Technical College Board and was a member of the original State ETV Commission.
Justice Chandler was awarded an honorary docorate from The Citadel in 1994, and he received the Durant Award from the Bar Foundation in 1998. Gov. Hodges presented him with the Order of the Palmetto in 2002. He is married to the former Martha Wilkins of Hattiesburg, and they have one daughter.
Active in St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Justice Chandler graduated from Vocational Diaconate School of Diocese of South Carolina and became an ordained deacon for servanthood ministry in 1999.
Stanton is the founder of Stanton Quilting Co. and served as the president until his retirement. He served as the chairman of the board of trustees for Chesterfield General Hospital and was also a member of the board of directors of the S.C. Hospital Trustees Association. He was on the board of the S.C. Movers Conference, an affiliate of the S.C. Trucking Association.
Education is a high priority for Stanton, serving as a member of the FMU Board of Trustees, now in his third consecutive term. As trustee, he is chairman of the Alumni Development Committee and is a member of the Executive Committee. He and his wife have established the W.C. and Sara Stanton Endowed Scholarship in Nursing at FMU.
A native of Dillon County, Stanton moved to Cheraw at an early age. He is a U.S. Army veteran. He and his wife, the former Sara Margaret McDougald, have four sons and five grandchildren. They are active members of First Baptist Church in Cheraw.
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