Douglas Oldenburg ’56

Douglas W. Oldenburg, former senior minister of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Charlotte and progressive leader in the Presbyterian Church-USA, died on July 21, 2020. He was 85 years old.

Skilled in the art of diplomacy, blessed with an unerring sense of right and wrong , and coupled with his genuine affection for those with whom he worked, Oldenburg was admired by the congregations and staff of the churches he served, the faculty and students of the seminary he led, and many, many others.

Oldenburg was born on February 22, 1935 in Muskegon, Michigan, son of Frederika Nordoff and Theodore Oldenburg, who, as a small child, immigrated from Amsterdam, Netherlands to the United States.

At age eleven, Oldenburg moved to Signal Mountain, Tennessee to a street where his future wife, Claudia, lived. Their childhood friendship grew into a love that lasted for 63 years. He was in the first graduating class of Myers Park High School in Charlotte where he was president of the student body.

At Davidson College, he was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity, sang in the Male Chorus, and earned a B.A. degree in English. An officer in the ROTC, he was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the US Army and served for a short time as an officer in Armor and later transferred to the Chaplaincy as a Captain in the Army Reserve. Oldenburg entered Union Theological Seminary where he earned a B.D. degree and won a Fellowship that took him to Yale Divinity School and a S.T.M. degree.

His first pastorate was to develop a new church in Lynchburg, Virginia. While there, he was instrumental in starting the Kum Ba Ya House for disadvantaged children in the city. After seven years, he moved to Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church in Elkins, West Virginia. While in Elkins, he headed the support for a city-wide referendum to raise teacher salaries that had been defeated three times previously. This effort passed with an impressive 60 percent of the vote. In 1972, at age thirty-seven, Oldenburg was called to be the senior minister of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Always concerned with helping the poor and with Christian faith and economic justice, he continued to study economics related to Christian life. He helped to establish Crisis Assistance Ministry, was a member of the Charlotte Housing Authority, and was co-founder of The Presbyterian Family Life Center. During his 14 years of service in Charlotte, he led a successful Presbytery-wide ten-year massive self-help project to assist a village in Haiti in a long-term effort to improve the quality of life there.

He served on the Board of Trustees of St. Andrews Presbyterian College, Union Theological Seminary and Agnes Scott College. Active in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s and always advocating to improve race relations, he received the Martin Luther King, Jr. award and Charlotte’s Order of the Hornet. In 1987 he left Charlotte to undertake a new challenge as the seventh president of Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia.

Under his leadership, the seminary rose to prominence and was know for its excellent faculty and progressive thinking. During his tenure, the endowment was raised from $27 million to $155 million and a capital campaign raised more than $34 million. He was instrumental in overseeing significant building and landscaping improvements at the seminary.

Upon his retirement, the beautiful, new campus center was given the name of The Oldenburg Quadrangle. He served his Presbyterian church though many committees in the General Assembly, the Synods, the Presbyteries and in the communities where he lived. He was most proud of his work on “A Declaration of Faith” for the denomination that is used in many worship services today. During his years in the Atlanta area, he was a member of the Atlanta Rotary Club and was instrumental in coordinating relationships between the presidents of all the seminaries of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

He was elected to be Moderator of the 2.6-million member Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1998. During his term, he emphasized a theme of concern for hungry children in the USA and in the world. He has been awarded honorary degrees from Davis and Elkins Presbyterian College, St. Andrews University, Davidson College, Hastings College, Presbyterian College, The Reformed Theological Academy in Budapest, Hungary and Rhodes College. After retirement from the seminary in 2000, he and his wife moved to their beloved home on Lake Davidson north of Charlotte. He loved working in his yard, going to the Charlotte Symphony, attending Davidson College basketball games, and convening a regular meeting of retired ministers in Davidson.

He also began “Advocates for Ministry” in which he and other Presbyterian ministers visited colleges and universities to encourage students to consider the ministry as their vocation. Golf was one of Oldenburg’s passions and was a game he continued to enjoy at Charlotte Country Club where he played into his late 70’s. He was well-traveled and visited 45 countries, some of those several times.

He is survived by his wife, Claudia, their three sons: Mark, Scott, and Todd; their wives: Courtney, Leah, and Claire; and eight grandchildren: Tyce, Jack, Paige, Hap, Evan, Eli, Charlie and Isla. His family gave him much joy and pleasure. His ashes will be places in the Columbarium at Covenant Presbyterian Church.

A virtual memorial service is scheduled for Wednesday, July 29 at 11:00AM. It can be viewed by going to and following the link on the homepage.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Crisis Assistance Ministry in Charlotte or the charity of your choice.

James Funeral Home of Huntersville is serving the family.

Copyright: Copyright (c) 2020 The Charlotte Observer

William Sherard Rawson ’56

Dr. William Sherard Rawson of Davidson, NC, died surrounded by the love of family and friends, on Thursday, July 16, 2020.

Dr. Rawson was born March 31, 1935, in Abbeville, SC. He was the son of the late Clarence Weaver Rawson, Sr. and Anne Sherard Wilson Rawson. He was Bill to his friends, Billy to his mother and nephews, and Daddy Bill to his devoted grandsons.

A graveside service for the family will be held in the Memorial Garden at Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC, where he was a devoted member for many years. The service will be officiated by the Rev. Dr. Bradley D. Smith, Senior Pastor. Shives Funeral Home, Trenholm Road Chapel, 7600 Trenholm Road Ext., Columbia, SC, is assisting the family.

After graduation from the Darlington School in Rome, GA, where both of his parents taught, he attended Davidson College, graduating in 1956 with an A.B. in Economics. Following a brief stint in Charlotte, NC, he earned a Master’s degree at Vanderbilt University, also in Economics.

It was at Vanderbilt on the porch at Rand Hall that he met the love of his life, Joanne McBride. The two wed at Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church in Augusta, GA in September of 1964.

After two years on the faculty at Shorter College in Rome, GA (whereas head tennis coach he was named Coach of the Year for small colleges in Georgia) he went on to complete his Doctor of Philosophy in Economics at Duke University.

Dr. Rawson was appointed to the faculty at the University of South Carolina in 1966 and completed his career there, retiring in 1997 as Professor Emeritus of Economics. Always a teacher of students, he served as director of graduate studies in Economics for many years.

Dr. Rawson served as a Ruling Elder at Eastminster Presbyterian Church. There was seldom a Sunday that he was absent from Sunday school and church. In retirement, he served two terms as the Chair of the Committee on Ministry of Trinity Presbytery. Though a devoted student of economics and theology, his greatest joy was found in the study of and appreciation of jazz music. He donated his lifetime collection of jazz LPs to the Thomas Cooper Library at the University of South Carolina. On one of his last nights on earth, he commented to his grandsons, “I am the last person alive who saw Charlie “Bird” Parker, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie.”

Dr. Rawson was predeceased by his brother, Clarence “Buddy” Rawson. He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Joanne McBride Rawson; his daughter, Sherard Anne Rawson Gates of Charlotte, NC and her husband, Tilman Thomas Gates; his son, William Stewart Rawson of Columbia, SC and his wife, Pamela Plowden Rawson, and his devoted grandsons: William Timothy Rawson of Atlanta, GA, McBride Kauders Rawson of Charlottesville, VA, Tilman Thomas Gates, Jr. of Charlotte, NC, and William Rawson Gates of Charlotte, NC.

The family wishes to thank Ruth Exis of Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center in Charlotte, NC for the love and care that she showed him at the end of his life.

Memorials may be sent to the American Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 15829, Arlington, VA, 22215, or by visiting

Memories and condolences may be shared at

Lawrence H. Wright ’56

Lawrence H. “Larry” Wright passed away peacefully on June 9 after a brief illness. He was born to Orpheus E. Wright, a medical doctor, and the former Anne Violet O’Flaherty, from Ireland.

In addition to his parents, he is predeceased by two sisters, Betty Wright Smith and Ann Wright Heenehan, and a brother, John “Jack” Wright. He graduated from R.J. Reynolds High School in 1952, where he was on the wrestling team, and in 1956 earned a degree in business from Davidson College with a major in accounting.

After college he went to work for a CPA firm owned by his father-in-law James Samuel Buie. He spent several years with Western Electric before being hired by the accounting department of Legg’s, a division of Hanes hosiery, from which he retired in 1984. Larry proudly served as a US Army Reserve Infantry Officer from 1956 until he was honorably discharged in 1968.

In 1956 he married the former Marilyn Don Buie. After her death, he married the former Diane Hester Harris.

Larry loved to play golf; he enjoyed boats and liked to water ski and sail. He was also a physical fitness fanatic for many years: as a young man he ran at least 5 miles on the track at Wake Forest University and lifted weights several days every week. He was part owner of a Nautilus gym for a couple of years in the early 1980s and enjoyed working out at the YMCA into the last months of his life. Larry also built radio-controlled model airplanes.

His bookshelves were filled with World War II histories. He enjoyed travel, including trips to Amsterdam and Germany, and a sailing trip from Maryland. He was an active member of Fairview Moravian Church. Larry loved animals and in his retirement fed neighborhood homeless cats and raccoons.

He’ll be remembered for many things, especially his years of caregiving–first for his father and then for each of his wives–and for his playful sense of humor and big laugh.

Larry is survived by his wife, Diane Harris Wright; his daughter Catherine Weatherford (Greg); stepson Gwyn (Catherine); stepdaughter Follin Key (Ron); and five grandchildren: Taylor, Steven, Scott, Melanie, and Alex.

In lieu of flowers please make donations to Fairview Moravian Church.

Thomas McAfee ’56

We are sad to announce our beloved “Tuck” McAfee; husband of the late Harriet Healey McAfee and son of the late Thomas F and Elisabeth Ward McAfee, died at McCall Hospice House Wednesday May 20, 2020, after complications of a sudden stroke.

Tuck was a humble and gentle leader, who led by following Christ’s example to his family and friends.

A graduate of Davidson College, he followed his father and grandfather in a career in funeral service with Thomas McAfee Funeral Homes, where he served many Greenville-area families with that same humble and gentle spirit.

He was a member of Prince of Peace Catholic Church and earlier served at Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church as Eucharistic Minister, Lector and Choir member.

Tuck was a member of the Knights of Columbus, Msgr Andrew K Gwinn Council-1668, Fourth Degree, former member of the Downtown Rotary Club, the Commerce Club, and the South Carolina Funeral Directors Association. He was named Rex of the annual Mardi Gras Celebration for his many charitable contributions to his community.

He is survived by sons, Thomas F. McAfee, IV and his wife, Lois, Bill McAfee, and John F. McAfee and his wife, Preston; grandchildren, Elizabeth McAfee, Thomas McAfee, V, Jay McAfee and his wife, Jessica, and Allen McAfee.

Tuck was also predeceased by a son, Stephen Montgomery McAfee and sister, Betty Ward McAfee Tollison.

The body will Lie in State from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Thursday May 21, 2020 at Thomas McAfee Funeral Home, Downtown, for those who might want to pay their respects.

Tuck’s family will have a Private Recitation of the Rosary on Thursday evening.

For the safety of family and friends, a Private Funeral Mass will be celebrated at Prince of Peace Catholic Church on Friday, May 22, 2020. The Rite of Committal will follow in Springwood Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to Bon Secours St. Francis Health System Foundation, 1 St. Francis Drive, Greenville, SC 29601 or Prince of Peace Catholic Church, 1209 Brushy Creek Rd, Taylors, SC 29687.

Tuck’s family encourages those at home to share your condolences on Tuck’s obituary tribute wall and send a “Hug from Home” by visiting www.