Jack McMichael Martin ’58

Jack McMichael Martin '58

My Brother’s Mountain Cabin

by D.G. Martin | Apr 15, 2024

A few days ago, with my wife and family, I drove along I-77 up into Virginia and turned west on I-81 driving alongside large, luscious, spring green pastures towards historic Abingdon, home of the Barter Theater. From there we made our way to the Washington Springs United Methodist Church in Glade Spring from where my late brother Mike made his home for many years. Gathered there was a large group of friends Mike had made when he lived nearby.

Earlier, Mike had been a star basketball player, and president of the student body at North Mecklenburg High School. He was the best shooter on the basketball team at Davidson College where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He earned a master’s degree in history from Duke University.

He seemed to have an open door to a successful career in scholarship or teaching.

What led him instead in another direction? Our sister’s husband, Joe Howell, wrote, “His cabin, situated on a 20-acre wooded parcel which was given to him by a friend, had no legal access, no running water, and no electricity. While his children were able to visit on holidays and summers, he was living the life of a focused and solitary artist. During these years living in the cabin, he established deep friendships with people living in the valley and wrote some of his best poetry and prose about their lives, hardships, hopes and dreams. He was known to them as James taken from his first two initials J.M.”

Mike had changed from academic scholar to artist and poet. The isolated mountain land and the mountain people who became his friends inspired him.

The “friend” who gave him the property was Bob Porterfield, the founder and owner of the Barter Theater in Abingdon. During the Depression, Porterfield persuaded aspiring actors to work for food from farmers who had traded their farm products for theatre tickets. He also gave some of the actors an acre of local mountain land as a souvenir of their time at the Barter.

When Porterfield had a problem with the land title, Mike helped him work it out, and Porterfield gave Mike, in return, the land where he built his cabin.

Joe Howell continues, “When Mike became older, in his late 50s, he came down from the mountain and moved into the lake house his parents had built on Lake Norman, near Davidson, where his interest turned more to painting, drawing and photography. He swam laps almost every day in Lake Norman, weather permitting, and loved his devoted companion, Shadow, a stray black lab that he adopted. Mike was married twice— to two beautiful and brilliant women—and thereafter had several other deeply significant romantic partnerships. By his first wife, Martine (who lives in France), he produced two talented and brilliant children, Noah (now “Alex”) and Eva. His second wife and close friend, Carla, drove a thousand miles with her new partner to visit Mike the week before he died.

“For the last five years of his life, he lived in the Washington area. When visiting his daughter, grandchildren, and son in March 2018, Mike came down with a life- threatening infection, which resulted in a week in the hospital and another three weeks in rehabilitation at a local nursing home. Following his illness, he was not able to drive or return to the cabin though for a long time he remained hopeful he would. For a year, he lived in our daughter Jessica’s basement apartment in a close-in suburb of Washington.”

As Mike’s health deteriorated, Joe found other places to care for him.

“In July 2019, we helped Mike move to Saint Mary’s Court, a HUD seniors’ housing building, where I have served on the board for years and helped develop. He lived there for several years and made many friends, before finally, in early 2023 moving to the Hebrew Home in Maryland where for his caregivers he was the beloved ‘Mr. Jack.’

“As Mike aged, his sense of humor and concern for others seemed to grow stronger.”

Thanks to his children, Mike’s work lives on through a website at www.mikemartinpoetry.com. Despite his ostensibly remote lifestyle, my reclusive brother quietly but strongly maintained a commitment to make the world better through his work.

D.G. Martin ’62, a retired lawyer, served as UNC-System’s vice president for public affairs and hosted PBS-NC’s North Carolina Bookwatch.

Robert Cullen Rapp, Jr. ’48

Robert Cullen Rapp, Jr., 98, of Greensboro, passed away April 10th 2024 peacefully at his home with his family. Bob was born in Thomasville, NC on February 6th, 1926 to the late Eunice Blair Jerome Rapp and the late Robert Cullen Rapp, Sr., and is preceded in death by his brother Walter Jerome Rapp.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Jean Victor Graham Rapp; son, Robert Cullen Rapp III of Greensboro; daughter, Katherine Reston Rapp Wood and her husband, Jon, of Columbia, SC and his precious granddaughters, Adelaide, Adair, and Reston Wood.

Bob was a proud graduate of Woodberry Forest School, Davidson College, and later went on to study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His love and loyalty to each of these schools ran deep.

Bob was a man of faith and a devoted servant leader. He fiercely loved his church and its community. He faithfully served First Presbyterian Church as a deacon, an elder, and was former president of the Young Men’s Bible Class. He dedicated his time as chair of the Property Committee and was steadfast in his work through the church’s historic renovation project. It was through Bob’s insightful benevolence that the “Special Projects Fund” was established to assist necessary expenses for members who might be experiencing difficult times.

Believing in the importance of good and healthy communities, Bob followed in his father’s footsteps as an active Rotarian. He was a lifetime member of Rotary International and was a Paul Harris Fellow.

Bob’s love of work was in the construction and building business. In the late 1960’s he co founded Westminster Company which later became a subsidiary of Weyerhaeuser Co. He went on to establish Arappco Inc. that was later acquired by D.R. Horton Company in the late 90s.

Bob loved the game of tennis, playing well into his golden years, snow skiing, and playing golf. He was a Formula One sports enthusiast and enjoyed vintage car racing on his own at the Virginia International Raceway. His love of Ferraris, in particular, was immeasurable. He served as Treasurer and Vice President of the Ferrari Club of America.

Bob was a dedicated and loyal friend. His friendships were plentiful and spanned across generations. He never missed an opportunity to celebrate and share fellowship. At 98 years he had outlived most of his contemporaries, yet he was still surrounded by generations of friends who loved him dearly. He will be remembered for the many ways he shared his sense of humor – always ready to share a joke from his back pocket.

Bob was an active member of the Greensboro community, exercising generously the importance of giving back. His benevolences and philanthropy were vast and he knew the importance of sharing blessings with others. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to a charity of one’s choice in honor of Bob.

Of all Bob’s accomplishments, his greatest point of pride was his family and his three granddaughters.

The family would like to express gratitude for Carolyn Rivers, his long time caretaker and friend, Tonya McCulley, and Authora Care Collective – providing so much peace for Bob and his family. A celebration of his life will be held on Thursday, April 18th at 2:00 p.m. in the sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church, Greensboro, NC. The service will be available via livestream for those who cannot attend at www.fpcgreensboro.org. Following the service, the family will receive friends at Greensboro Country Club, 410 Sunset Drive.

Carlos Alvarez

Carlos Alvarez
Davidson College Trustee Carlos Alvarez

Davidson College Trustee Carlos Alvarez, whose journey from immigrant small businessman to beer industry icon shaped his historic generosity to Davidson College and its international students, died Monday night in his sleep at his home in San Antonio, Texas. He was 73. 

“Carlos personified the ideal that, if life rewards you with success, then you give back,” said Davidson College President Doug Hicks. “He saw, through his daughter’s college experience, Davidson’s ability to transform lives, and he knew firsthand the obstacles to succeeding in an unfamiliar land. He ensured that international students at Davidson College would have the support that would open to them the kinds of opportunities that our nation afforded him.” 

Alvarez’s journey is legendary in the beer industry. He grew up in Acapulco, Mexico, where his father was a beer distributor, and he learned the basics of business from working on one of his dad’s trucks. 

“While everyone is there, out there at the beach, by the pool,” Alvarez told a Texas television station in 2021, “that was torture.” 

In 1986, he and his wife and daughters emigrated to Texas, where he was instrumental in introducing Corona Extra beer into the United States. He established his own company, The Gambrinus Company, and became the official importer for Corona. Eleven years later, it was the No. 1 imported beer in the nation—widely regarded as the most spectacular brand success story in contemporary brewing history. He also bought the struggling Spoetzl brewery in Shiner, Texas, that produced Shiner beer and strengthened the craft brewer until it was distributed in all 50 states. 

Alvarez’s daughter, Malú, graduated from Davidson in 2002, and he devoted his energy to supporting the college from her first day on campus. His family’s name is etched on the Alvarez College Union for which he and his wife, Malú, provided the signature renovation gift. 

Carlos Alvarez
The Alvarez Family on campus to meet with their scholarship recipients. (l-r) Malú Alvarez ’02, Malú Alvarez, Carlos Alvarez holding baby Charlie, Charlie’s mom Carla Alvarez Brozovich and John Brozovich.

They also created the Alvarez Scholars Program, the Alvarez Access Fund and the Alvarez Guarantee Fund distinguishing Davidson among colleges and universities for such comprehensive support of international students. His backing ensured that international students enjoyed the support they needed for equal access to opportunities such off-campus programs, internships and career searches. The international student population at Davidson has doubled since his efforts began. 

“The staff and resources … will help [international] students seize and weave together those experiences, to stand out as candidates for a dream job or grad school,” he said in 2018. “It just takes a little more creativity and a little more work than the typical domestic student.”

Carlos Alvarez
Alvarez visited with students supported by his programs during his trips to campus.

It was common during Alvarez’s campus visits to see him outside, sitting with one of the Alvarez Scholars, visibly delighted in learning of their discoveries and explorations. His most recent visit to campus, in January, was for a visit with those students. 

“He was at our house that evening,” Hicks said, “talking about the Alvarez Scholars and about the national awards that Shiner had won. You could see the joyfulness in him, that he had reached this place in life where he could help these students toward lives where they would go and solve big problems.” 

Alvarez was in his second term as a Davidson College trustee and had previously served on the Parents Council.

The Carlos Alvarez College of Business, at the University of Texas at San Antonio, reflects his faith in, and support for, education. He also was a member of the Chancellor’s Circle for the University of Texas system. 

In addition to Davidson, Alvarez served on the boards of: National Public Radio, Frost Bank, The Bullock Texas State History Museum, St. Mary’s Hall, the World Affairs Council of America, in Washington, D.C., the Foreign Policy Association, in New York, and the World Affairs Council of San Antonio, where he previously was chair. He was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Freedom and was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame. Alvarez received a degree in biochemical engineering from the Monterrey Institute of Technology, in Monterrey, Mexico. 

A memorial service is planned for Friday morning, April 19, at St. Anthony de Padua Catholic Church. 

Julian Jerome “Jerry” Clark Jr. ’59

Julian Jerome “Jerry” Clark, Jr., 86, passed away peacefully on Saturday, March 30, 2024, surrounded by his family.

Born on September 7, 1937, he was the son of the late Mary Mackey Hough Clark and Julian Jerome Clark. A Charlotte native, Jerry was a proud member of the Classic Class of 1955 at Myers Park High School. Upon graduation from Davidson College in 1959 where he was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army. He was assigned to a division of military intelligence and resided in Washington DC. In 1961, he married his bride of sixty-three years, Elizabeth “Woody” Bradford.

Upon his return to Charlotte, Jerry started his career in commercial real estate development where he continued to be active in the field. He was president of the Mortgage Bankers Association of Charlotte and was a founding member of the North Carolina Income Property Loan Committee. He was also a member of the North Carolina Industrial Developers Association. He was proud of the many long-lasting relationships he developed with buyers of commercial properties during his real estate career.

As a deacon serving the finance and long-range planning committees at First Presbyterian Church, he worked to secure the Popular Street property, enhancing the long-term financial position of the church. Jerry had many strong relationships with the non-profit community including establishing the Brown Cup, serving on the board of Youth Homes, Right Moves for Youth, the Dowd YMCA, the Charlotte Track Club, United States Masters Swimming, and the Davidson Athletic Foundation. Jerry was a member of Charlotte Country Club, the Charlotte City Club, Springdale Hall Club, and was a proud member of The Piedmont Club of Charlotte.

Jerry touched many lives as a lifelong athlete, enjoying tennis, basketball, golf, squash, long distance running, triathlons, and swimming. He enjoyed training for and competing in local, national, and international events. He qualified twice for the USA Triathlon World team, and held state, national and world records as a US Masters swimmer. For him, the journey of training with friends throughout the many years in all these sporting events was more rewarding and more important than any individual results achieved.

Jerry is survived by his wife, Elizabeth “Woody” Clark; his three children; Lisa Neely (Doug), Andy Clark (Lauri), Mary Attaway (Joe); his grandchildren: Sarah, Connor, and Elizabeth “Biz” Neely; Lilly and Katie Clark, Julian, Camille and Lucy Attaway, and the sweet remembrance of Peyton Elizabeth Clark. He is also survived by his beloved brother, Billy Clark (Veronica and stepdaughter Alex).

A celebration of Jerry’s life will be held at 2:00 PM on Thursday, April 4, 2024, at First Presbyterian Church. For those unable to attend, the service will be livestreamed using the following link: https://firstpres-charlotte.org/watch/. The family will receive friends in the Wood Fellowship Hall following the service.

In lieu of flowers, memorials in Jerry’s honor can be made to the First Presbyterian Church TV Ministry, Memory & Movement Charlotte, or The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Foundation.

Arrangements are in the care of Kenneth W. Poe Funeral & Cremation Service, 1321 Berkeley Ave., Charlotte, NC; 28204 (704) 641-7606. 

William “Bill” Godfrey Russell ’53

William “Bill” Godfrey Russell, 92, of Davidson, NC, passed away peacefully on March 23, 2024 with his loving family by his side. He was born on September 20, 1931, in Winston Salem, NC.
Bill attended RJ Reynolds High School in Winston Salem, NC and graduated in 1953 from Davidson College, Davidson, NC in the top 10% of his class with a BS in Business and Economics. He was ROTC Battalion Commander, a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity, and a recipient of an AK Phiffer Business Scholarship. He earned much of his way through college working construction in his youth.
Bill, a proud veteran, served in the US Army 1st LT for 8 years at Fort Benning and Fort Gordon, GA. After his military service, he pursued a career as an accountant in Lynchburg, Va. He worked for General Electric as manager of accounting in Schenectady, NY and Lancaster, PA. He was the Treasurer and Manager of Finance of GE Broadcasting. His job with GE, Turbine Division, took him to Cairo, Egypt and India in financial management of construction projects. Bill was also CEO of PerAmerica Consulting Firm, a business he founded in Schenectady. Retiring in 1991, he made his home in his college town of Davidson.
Bill was instrumental in helping with the Vietnamese refugee resettlement effort in the Schenectady area in the mid 1970s. He spent many hours volunteering to help give them a new life.
He served on the vestry as senior warden at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Schenectady and at several churches over the years where he was a member.
Bill’s biggest joy was being surrounded by his loving family. He was a wonderful provider, mentor to his family, volunteer, Boy Scout Master, and enjoyed and promoted sports. In his earlier years, he enjoyed taking the family camping, especially to Cape Hatteras on the Outer Banks, NC, boating on Lake George, and sailing on Lake Champlain and the Chesapeake Bay. He had a passion for traveling and cruising. In his spare time, Bill enjoyed reading, photography and woodworking.
Bill is preceded in death by his father, William G Russell II, and mother, Anna Cly Russell.
He is survived by his wife Karima Russell, her sons Ashraf El-Rafei, Amr El-Rafei (Mervat), and Ahmed El-Rafei (Amy), his former wife June Russell, Ann Applegate (sister), Helen Caines (sister), children William Russell (Joyce), Michael Russell, Carolyn Morin (Richard), Elizabeth Pratico (Paul), 12 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren.
A memorial service to honor Bill’s life will take place on Saturday, May 11th at 11:00 a.m. at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Schenectady, NY.
His legacy of love and service to others, dedication, and passion for life will be remembered and cherished by all who knew him.