Tusculum’s Distinguished Service Award goes to two long-time friends: Drs. Larry Brotherton and Ken Bowman
Two research chemists, friends since college, whose academic and career paths have followed similar patterns were given Tusculum College Distinguished Service Awards (DSA) Friday night at the college’s annual President’s Dinner, held at the General Morgan Inn.
Honored were native Greene Countian Dr. Larry Brotherton and Dr. Kenneth A. Bowman, both 1970 chemistry graduates from Tusculum College. Brotherton and Bowman were close friends as classmates and attended the University of Tennessee together after Tusculum graduation, both earning Ph.Ds in chemistry at the same time. They have remained friends throughout life, and both are members of the Tusculum College board of trustees today.
The 2008 DSA honors marked the first time the award has been given simultaneously to two individuals, except for one case in the 1990s when the award was given to alumni Hugh and Eleanor Jaynes, a married couple who shared the award.
The 2008 award was presented by Interim President Dr. Russell Nichols, assisted by trustee James Durham, a 1979 TC graduate who won the award last year.
Nichols presented Brotherton’s award first, making friendly, humorous references to Brotherton’s life, including his growing-up years in rural Greene County. He mentioned Brotherton’s farming experience of plowing behind a mule, and referenced Brotherton’s home community by noting that Brotherton is a man who is able to answer the question, “Wherefore art thou, Romeo?”
Brotherton grew up in the Romeo community of Greene County and attended the two-room Romeo school, where he passed the fifth and sixth grades within a single school year.
With Brotherton was his wife, the former Carmen Keller of Greene County. She and Brotherton met while attending North Greene High School together.
In 1980, Brotherton founded Ortec, Inc., a custom chemical manufacturing company in Easley, S.C. He continues to lead the company today. He also founded Ortec Racing, LLC and Laughlin Racing Products, both of these NASCAR-associated businesses. He was also an organizer of Community South Bank.
In his brief comments after receiving the honor, Brotherton focused on how his college experience enabled him to develop a vision of a world beyond the limits of his earlier experiences. Before Tusculum, he said, he “didn’t know there was a Mozart.”
Brotherton has a history of strong support of Tusculum College, including a major gift to the capital campaign that allowed the recent renovation and expansion of the library, which on Friday was dedicated and named the Thomas J. Garland Library.
After the dinner, he commented that, in his opinion, one of his best contributions to the college was recruiting his friend and DSA co-winner Ken Bowman as a fellow trustee. Bowman’s award also was presented by Nichols, aided by Durham.
Nichols noted that Bowman’s associations with Tusculum College follow “a family tradition, as his father, the late Ray L. Bowman, was a member of the Class of 1942 and established a pattern of positive involvement in college, community, family and church life that Ken has carried on since his student days at Tusculum.”
Nichols discussed Bowman’s strengths as a trustee and trustee chairman, and declared him to be one of the most committed and hardest-working trustee chairman Nichols has ever encountered in his long career in higher education.
He also made humorous observations about Bowman, teasing him regarding his golfing hobby and describing Bowman, a research chemist with Alcoa Aluminum in Pennsylvania, as someone who “makes beer cans.”
More seriously, he went on that “Ken is a consummate professional and has made his name known in his field of expertise. Working in the aluminum industry with the famous Alcoa company in Pennsylvania, Ken holds 13 U.S. patents in his industry, and is considered an authority in the science of aluminum. He was once engaged by the editors of the World Book Encyclopedia to provide the material in that encyclopedia’s entry for ‘aluminum.’”
In his thank-you comments, Bowman said he would take his lead from the brief comments made earlier in the day by Tom Garland when the Library at Tusculum College was named in Garland’s honor: “A very sincere thank you.”
After the dinner, the two DSA winners greeted friends and congratulators and posed for pictures with their wives. Bowman’s wife is Jo Ellen Bowman.
The President’s Dinner is hosted each spring by Tusculum College as a thank-you gesture to the college’s major donors.