U.S. Senator, Businessman, State's Former First Lady To Receive Honorary Degrees at Francis Marion University
FLORENCE---A United States senator, a Florence businessman and a former South Carolina first lady will be given honorary degrees during May’s commencement exercises at Francis Marion University.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey O. Graham of Seneca, W.O. “Billy” Powers of Florence and former South Carolina first lady Iris Rhodes Campbell of Georgetown County will be honored at the May 6 graduation ceremony in Smith University Center gymnasium. Graham also will be the commencement speaker for the 10 a.m. ceremony at which 355 students are candidates for degrees.
Degree candidates include 292 students for undergraduate degrees and 30 for graduate diplomas. In addition, 33 bachelor’s degrees in nursing will be awarded jointly through a cooperative nursing program with the Medical University of South Carolina. Next year, nursing degrees will be awarded by FMU.
Graham was elected to the United States Senate in 2002. A native South Carolinian, he grew up in Central, graduated from D.W. Daniel High School, and earned his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of South Carolina in Columbia. Graham logged six-and-a-half years of service on active duty as an Air Force lawyer.
From 1984-1988, he was assigned overseas and served at Rhein Mein Air Force Base in Germany. Upon leaving the active duty Air Force in 1989, Graham joined the South Carolina Air National Guard, where he served until his election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994.
During the first Gulf War, Graham was called to active duty and served state-side at McEntire Air National Guard Base as staff judge advocate where he prepared members for deployment to the Gulf region. His duties included briefing pilots on the law of armed conflict, preparing legal documents for deploying troops, and providing legal services for family members of the South Carolina Air National Guard. He received a commendation medal for his service at McEntire.
Since 1995, Graham has continued to serve his country in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and is the only U.S. Senator currently serving in the Guard or Reserves. He is a colonel and is assigned as a Reserve Judge to the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals.
In 1988, Graham went into private law practice and in 1992 was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives. In 1994, he became the first Republican to represent South Carolina's Third Congressional District in Washington since 1877.
Graham is known as a leader who never abandons his independence or strays from the conservative reform agenda. He has fought to balance the federal budget, provide tax relief to all taxpayers, keep our military adequately funded and prepared, return control of education back to parents and teachers, and ensure the government keeps its promises to America's greatest generation.
Graham lives in Seneca and is a member of Corinth Baptist Church. He serves on four committees in the U.S. Senate: Armed Services, Judiciary, Budget, and Veterans Affairs.
Powers has spent more than 40 years building his construction company, Powers Construction, into a recognized name across the Southeastern United States. His career began as an engineer with the S.C. Department of Transportation. In addition to Powers Construction, his business interests include Mini-Max Warehouses Inc., Price-Carolina Aqua Pools Inc., Community Health Services Inc., Powers Aviation LLC, Powers-Godbold Construction Co., U.S. Coatings, and The Willows Inc.
Powers is very active in the community, and has been involved with the Florence Rotary Club, the S.C. Chamber of Commerce, the Florence Optimist Club, of which he is a past president, the Florence Economic Development Partnership Board, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Arts Presidential Advisory Board.
He has an honorary doctoral degree from Clemson University, was the 2002 recipient of the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen of the Year Award, and has received the Order of the Palmetto award.
Powers is a member of the FMU Foundation Board and the Clemson University Foundation Board. He is a registered South Carolina contractor in several specialties, and is past president of the Pee Dee home Builders Association and a life director of the National Association of Home Builders.
A native of Timmonsville, Powers is a graduate of Timmonsville High School. He attended Clemson University, where he studied civil engineering. He is a member of Central Methodist Church in Florence and is an ordained deacon in the Baptist faith. He has served on numerous church committees.
Powers is married to the former Ann Williamson. He has two children, Timothy Powers and Penny Leigh Burns.
Iris Rhodes Campbell, the daughter of A.T. and Sue Rhodes, was born in Liberty, S.C. She married Carroll Ashmore Campbell Jr. in 1959. After serving in the S.C. House of Representatives, the S.C. Senate and the U.S. Congress, Mr. Campbell was elected Governor of South Carolina in 1986.
As South Carolina’s first lady for eight years, Mrs. Campbell dedicated her time to many charities including the American Cancer Society, the March of Dimes, the Carolina Children's Home and the Food for Hungry Children campaign. She also served on the Board of the Richland Memorial Children's Hospital.
Mrs. Campbell was also involved with Get Alarmed South Carolina, a program providing low-income homes with smoke detectors and Wings, Inc. a horseback riding camp for the handicapped. And, after Hurricane Hugo crippled the state’s coast, Mrs. Campbell along with religious leaders implemented Adopt A Family, where church members would adopt families in need.
After Gov. Campbell was diagnosed with Alzheimers, the Campbell family became involved with the Palmetto Chapter of the Alzheimers Association which has an annual golf tournament named after the governor to raise money to help fight this terrible disease.
Since Gov. Campbell’s death in December 2005, Mrs. Campbell continues to work with the Alzheimers Association and she serves on the advisory board of the University of South Carolina library. She also spends time with her two sons, Carroll III and Mike, and their families which include her four grandchildren.
#175 / 4-18-06