Dr. James Harold Daughdrill, Jr., 80, died May 3, 2014. He was president of Rhodes College for 26 years from 1973 to 1999. Jim lived and died in unwavering faith, surrounded by his children and in the arms of his beloved, Libby, whom he loved for 64 of his 80 years. His gifts of love, generosity and faith will continue to bless all of the many who loved him deeply.
During Daughdrill’s presidency, Rhodes was ranked by U.S. News and World report in the “Top tier of the nation’s best liberal arts colleges” for the first time. Time Magazine called Daughdrill, “a devout bottom liner.” While he was president, the college’s name was changed from Southwestern at Memphis to Rhodes College, eleven new buildings were erected at a cost of $275 million, and the endowment increased from six million to $225 million, making a total increase of permanent assets of more than a Half-Billion Dollars.
Daughdrill served as Chairman of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, Director of the American Council on Education, and Chairman of the National Advisory Committee to the U.S. Secretary of Education. Daughdrill also served as president of the Southern University Conference, President of the Southern College Athletic Conference, and President of the Association of Presbyterian Colleges. Cited in the listing of Outstanding People of the 20th Century as “one of the nation’s most effective college presidents,” Jim Daughdrill surprisingly had already distinguished himself in two previous careers, as businessman and churchman.
He was born in LaGrange, GA, the son of Louisa and Hal Daughdrill. He graduated cum laude from The McCallie School, where he received the school’s highest award, the Clifford Barker Grayson Medal. He attended Davidson College and graduated from Emory University. He received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Davidson College.
At age 25, Daughdrill became president of Kingston Mills, Inc., Cartersville, GA, manufacturers of broadloom carpeting, and during this time he was named to membership in the national Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), and later to the Chief Executives Organization (CEO), and to the World Business Council. He was soon to leave business to attend Columbia Theological Seminary, where he served as student body president and graduated magna cum laude, with a Masters of Theology degree. He was called to serve as Minister of St. Andrews Presbyterian Church, Little Rock, AR, and later called to serve as Secretary of Stewardship for the Presbyterian Church in the United States, before coming to Rhodes as president. Recognition of his stellar career include: the Community Service Award from the Rotary Club of Memphis, the Distingusihed National Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America, “James H. Daughdrill, Jr. Day” declared by the Memphis City Council in 1997, the Tennessee Legislature’s recognition of the “remarkable contributions to his state,” and the establishement of the James H. Daughdrill, Jr. Faculty Chair of Science at Rhodes endowed by the College Board of Trustees in his honor.
In his “off campus” hours, Daughdrill was active in public service. He was an advisor to MIFA, and served on the Board of Directors of: the Chickasaw Council of the Boy Scouts of America, The Memphis Chamber of Commerce, The Hutchison School, Memphis University School, Memphis-Brooks Art Gallery, The Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Trezevant Manor, and the Memphis Rotary Club. Daughdrill also served on the National Board of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, the Board of Directors of Memphis Partners, the Board of Directors of the Liberty Bowl Football Classic, on the Advisory Board of the Junior League of Memphis, and on the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Standards in Memphis Public Schools.
On the business front, he served on several corporate Boards: Leader Federal, Union Planters Bank (now Regions), Buckman Laboratories, and the National Bak of Commerce (now SunTrust). Daughdrill was a member of Second Presbyterain Church, Phi Delta Theta, ODK, the Memphis Country Club, The Society of Entrepreneurs, the University Club of New York, and The Old Goats Society.
Early in his career Daughdrill was the author of the book, Man Talk, published by Harper & Row, and was a co-author of the book, Leaders On Leadership: The College Presidency, published by Jossey-Bass, Inc. After his retirement from Rhodes, he created “Prayers at Work,” a weekly e-mail ministry to people at work, now received widely in the country and around the world. He said that this venture was one of the greatest fulfillments of his life, but the real love and greatest fulfillment of his life was always his wife, Libby, and his family.
Dr. Daughdrill is survived by his wife Libby, the former Elizabeth Anne Gay, his children: James Harold Daughdrill III (Hal) and his wife Vicki of Atlanta, GA, Mrs. Risha Hoover and her husband David Hoover of Huntsville, AL, Mrs. Gay Boyd of Memphis, TN, six grandchildren: Meg Daughdrill Flowers and her husband Dr. Brian Flowers of Birmingham, AL, James Harold Daughdrill IV (Jim) of Chattanooga, TN and his wife Libby; Katie Hoover Cochran and her husband Eric Cochran of Huntsville, AL; John Hoover of Huntsville, AL; Hal Boyd IV and Battle Boyd of Memphis; and by five great-grandchildren: Brooks, Graham, and Carter Cochran of Huntsville, AL and Grant and Stuart Flowers of Birmingham, AL and by his sister, Mrs. Brooks W. Lansing of Dalton, GA.
The family will receive friends 5-7 p.m. Monday, May 5 at Memorial Park Funeral Home and Cemetery. Funeral services will be 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 6 at Second Presbyterian Church. A reception will follow. Burial will be private.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be sent to Rhodes College; McCallie School, 500 Dodds Avenue, Chattanooga, TN 37404; Church Health Center or MIFA. Memorial Park Funeral Home, “Behind the stone wall”, 901-767-8930. Condolences may be offered at www.MemorialParkOnline.com