Donald W. Shriver, Jr. ’51

The Rev. Dr. Donald W., Jr. Acclaimed ethicist and President Emeritus of Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, died on July 28 at Mount Sinai Morningside. He was 93. President of Union from 1975 to 1991, he presided over one of the most pivotal periods in the institution’s history. In the words of Professor Emeritus Larry Rasmussen, “Don Shriver saved Union Theological Seminary. That should serve as tribute enough. But more than that, he navigated changes that put in place a vibrant future Union, markedly different from the institution he joined in 1975.” Born in 1927 in racially segregated Norfolk, Virginia, Shriver was perhaps an unlikely candidate to become, in the words of Professor Cornel West, “the most prophetic seminary president in the late twentieth-century.”

He was raised, in his own words, to “never know how many injustices” his Black brethren suffered, yet throughout his career he would never stop speaking out against these injustices. Shriver graduated from Davidson College in 1951, and subsequently enrolled at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, where he received his BD (M.Div.) in 1955. After seminary, he was ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and served as a parish minister in Gastonia, NC from 1956, until he enrolled in the doctoral program at Harvard University in 1959.

After graduating, he embarked on a lengthy career in which he fought racism in church, culture and academia alike. In his own accounting, Shriver took Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” and its call to white ministers, deeply to heart. His first book, “The Unsilent South: Prophetic Preaching in Racial Crisis,” collected nineteen sermons across the Presbyterian South speaking out against the evil of white supremacy. That same year, church elders tried to have him fired from North Carolina State University campus ministry because of his participation in the march on Selma, but Shriver refused to back down. In the ensuing years, Shriver became one of the nation’s foremost social ethicists, catapulting him to national renown.

In 1975, he was appointed President of Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York (UTS), succeeding Roger Shinn. He assumed the presidency amid considerable doubt that UTS would be able to stay open, due to severe financial woes. However, through the timely sale of Van Dusen Hall, Shriver was able to usher UTS through its 1980 accreditation. But his tenure as president transformed more than financial stability. Through hiring now-legendary professors like Cornel West, James Forbes, Phyllis Trible, James Washington, Beverly Wildung Harrison, Larry Rasmussen and more, he ignited the seminary’s modern era as a diverse and justice-oriented institution. “It has been an honor to know President Emeritus Shriver.

As much as he was known as an ethicist and pastor and someone who passionately denounced white supremacy, he was a truly great man on a personal level and will be missed by many,” said Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, Union Theological Seminary President. Both during his presidency and after, Shriver remained one of the nation’s foremost leaders. From his service as the 1979 President of the Society of Christian Ethics, to his longstanding tenure as a member of The Council on Foreign Relations from 1988 until his death, Shriver shaped both the academy and national politics. In 2009, he was awarded the Grawemeyer Award in Religion for his 2005 magnum opus, “Honest Patriots: Loving a Country Enough to Remember its Misdeeds.” He also received honorary doctorates from more than 10 colleges, universities and seminaries for his ground-breaking scholarship and prophetic leadership.

Shriver is survived by his wife Peggy, who was a ubiquitous presence on the UTS campus. As Assistant General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, together they helped shape the broader church’s witness on issues from the Vietnam War to economic and environmental justice. She also has authored many books of poetry, which Don was known to fondly read aloud, remarking “I love you, Peggy Shriver.” The couple were long standing members of The Riverside Church. The couple were awarded the Union Medal together, the seminary’s highest honor, on “Don’s Day,” May 13, 1991, a day- long tribute to Shriver’s 16- year presidency. He is also survived by their children, Lionel and Timothy. He was preceded in death by their beloved son Gregory. A memorial service is being planned for mid-September.

William “Billy” Hutchings II ’78

Dr. William “Billy” Hutchings II, age 65, of Macon, GA, entered peacefully into eternity June 16, 2021, surrounded by his loving wife and daughters. He was honored in a private ceremony on June 22.

Dr. Hutchings was the son of the late William S. Hutchings and Bettye O’Neal Hutchings. He attended St. Peter Claver Catholic School and Northeast High School. He continued his studies at Davidson College and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. He attended Vanderbilt Medical School and graduated with a Doctor of Family Medicine in 1982.

Dr. Hutchings’ passion for caring for the sick and love for his hometown led him back home to Macon, Georgia. He began his residency in family practice medicine at the Medical Center of Central Georgia in 1982 and later partnered with Dr. Ralph Austin in establishing a successful private practice in family medicine.

Dr. Billy Hutchings’ dedication to improving the health of his patients and his community expanded beyond his private practice. He was a member of the Medical Association of Georgia and Bibb County; Medical Director of Source Care Management; attending physician at the Central Georgia Correctional Institute; Macon Braves team physician; and radio show host of “A Healthy Me with Dr. B” on the K.D. Bowe Morning Show.


Affectionately known as “Dr. Billy” in both professional and social spheres, he spent a lifetime serving the greater Middle Georgia community. He earned the prestigious Eagle Scout Award with the Boy Scouts of America in 1972.

Later civic commitments include chairman of the Macon-Bibb County Race Relations Council; Macon Substance Abuse Foundation for Education; Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity; 100 Black Men of Macon; Rotary Club of Macon; Middle Georgia United Negro College Fund; Project READ; United Way of Middle Georgia; Bibb County Board of Education Member; United Churches of East Macon Prayer Team; and girls soccer coach with the Middle Georgia Youth Soccer Association.

Ever committed to learning and spiritual growth, Billy later earned an Associate Degree in Biblical Studies from The Christian Life School of Theology and a Doctorate of Theology from Beacon University. He was an active member of Stone Edge Church in Macon.

Dr. Hutchings retired from Hutchings Healthcare in October 2020 after 38 years as a physician.

A loyal husband, father, son, and brother, Billy leaves to celebrate and cherish his life on Earth his wife of 33 years, Melanie Woods Hutchings; beloved daughters; Sasha and Kayla Hutchings; mother, Bettye O’Neal Hutchings; siblings; Starr Purdue (David), Sharon Hutchings, Suzanne Malloy (Daryl), Walter S. Hutchings, MD, and Warren S. Hutchings, M.D (Tami); brothers-in-law, Thomas Woods, Glenn Woods, Kenneth Woods, and Keith Woods; Aunts Gloria Hutchings and Gertie Rogers; Linda Bell, his devoted nurse of 35 years; 4 nieces, 12 nephews, a host of cousins, extended family, faithful friends, and loyal patients.

In lieu of flowers, to honor Dr. Hutchings, donations can be made to the Middle Georgia Community Food Bank, 4490 Ocmulgee E Blvd, Macon, GA 31217 and the Rescue Mission of Middle Georgia, 6601 Zebulon Road, Macon, GA 31220.

Published by The Telegraph on Jun. 23, 2021.

Charles Nelms, Jr. ’61

Charles Randall Nelms, Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S. was born September 14, 1939, in Kingsport, TN to C.R. and Jane Dickinson Nelms. He died peacefully June 13, 2021 in Pinehurst NC, just about two months shy of his 60th wedding anniversary (8/5/1961). He was preceded in death by his parents and his infant granddaughter Ashlyn Morgan McCabe.

He is survived by his 4th grade sweetheart, (Kara) Gretchen (Goerdel) and children, Kara Elizabeth Ferril (Byron) of Amarillo, TX; Dr. Wendy Marion Nelms McCabe (Eric) of Lino Lakes, MN; and Dr. Jennifer Lynn Cutter of Cincinnati, OH. Surviving grandchildren are Kayla Elizabeth Lloyd (fiancé, Mitchell Norman); Nicholas Randall Lloyd (Elizabeth); Cullen Austin; Devlin Alexander and Cashlin Abigail McCabe; brother, Frank Dickinson Nelms (Farris); nephews and nieces, Frank (Susan) Nelms; David (Leigh) Nelms; Preston (Ashley) Nelms; Beth (Jon) Pierce; John (Trey) Hill III (Ross Ann); Karl Hill; Kevin (Beata) Hill; Robert Hill; Kimberly (Michael) Neas; Kathie Cashion; and Hank (Susan) Dunning, as well as several great nieces and nephews.

Dr. Nelms grew up in Kingsport, TN, later taking “Minnesota Hillbilly” as his CB handle for his many family road trips. He graduated from Dobyns-Bennett HS in ’57 and Davidson College in 1961 where he was a member of Kappa Alpha fraternity. He graduated from U.T. Medical School in Memphis in Dec. 1964; where he was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha, an Honor Medical Society. His internship and ENT residency were completed at the University of MN in 1970.

He served two years in the Air Force as a Major at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, NE. Upon completion of his military service, he returned to the Twin Cities to practice ENT and head and neck surgery for 27 years. He served as Ramsey County Medical Society President for two terms and President of the Minnesota Medical Association, also two terms. He held two patents relating to ENT, the Nelms Elevator and Earbear Otoscope.

While in the Twin Cities he learned to downhill ski and enjoyed skiing with his family in CO, camping, canoeing and golfing. He attended all four golf majors as a spectator, a few more than once. Greg Norman nailed him in the thigh on hole #6 at Hazeltine National in the ’90s. He was an accomplished athlete logging numerous marathons, triathlons, Birkebieners and one Ironman, finishing first in his age group.

He went on to earn an MBA at the then College of St. Thomas in the early 90s and even took piano lessons for a few years. He retired to Pinehurst in 1999 and continued to play lots of golf. He was proud to have won Couples Club Championships at 3 different clubs (North Oaks Golf Club, Pinewild CC, and Pinehurst Super Senior division). He had 5 holes-in-one in his lifetime.

He loved travelling and visited 6 continents. He also travelled to visit his daughters and the grandchildren to watch/support their numerous sports and endeavors

We would like to thank the Comfort Keepers caregivers and those at Hospice House. Memorials may be made to Hospice House, 251A Campground Road, West End, NC 27376.

 Copyright Sandusky Newspaper Group, Kingsport Times-News, 2021. All Rights Reserved.

John Witherspoon ’49

John Witherspoon '49

John Witherspoon, a longtime resident of Hampton, passed away peacefully on May 31, 2021. He was born on March 17, 1928 in Lynchburg to Ethel Warthen and Rev. Dr. James W. Witherspoon. He was predeceased by his parents and his brother, Lt. James W. Witherspoon, Jr. He is survived by his loving wife of 54 years, Carolyn Bass Witherspoon, son James Whitted Witherspoon (Meg), daughter Elizabeth Witherspoon Hubbard (Tim), brother Jere Warthen Witherspoon (Ellen), grandchildren Emily, Trent and Allison Hubbard, step-granddaughter Brandi Stacy, step-great-grandchildren Ryan and Aubree Stacy, and many close friends and extended family.

John spent his childhood in Lexington, NC and later his family moved to Beckley, WV, where he made lifelong friends. He graduated from Davidson College and earned a master’s degree from George Washington University. He served in the Air Force then settled in Hampton where he had a 40 year career at NASA.

John was an Eagle Scout and avid outdoorsman who enjoyed hiking, sailing, skiing and traveling to destinations around the world to seek new adventures. Most important to him was his love of his church and family. He was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Hampton where he was a Deacon and an Elder and served on numerous committees. He enjoyed boating and crabbing with his children and grandchildren and often could be found kayaking on Harris Creek.

John was an active member of the Hampton Yacht Club and served as secretary for seven years. He volunteered for many organizations including the Virginia Air and Space Centre in Hampton, where he served as a docent since its inception and enjoyed sharing his love of space and flight with others. He was proud of his ancestry and being a member of the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence.

A memorial service will be held at First Presbyterian Church of Hampton on Saturday June 5, at 2pm. The family will receive friends at the church after the service. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to First Presbyterian Church of Hampton, 514 S. Armistead Ave., Hampton, VA 23669 or Sentara Hospice Services, 11844 Rock Landing Dr. Suite C, Newport News, VA 23606.

Ralph Bassett ’58

Ralph Bassett '58

Ralph Noble Bassett, 84, of Leesburg passed away on May 12 in hospice care after a brief illness.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Melba; his daughter Kitsie Riggall (Chris), grandsons Chart and Hunter, all of Atlanta; son Frank Bassett (Brad) and grandchildren Annelle and Grady, all of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada; sister Evelyn Bassett Cook (Paul Mounts) of Bandon, Oregon; and his beloved canine companion Fred.

Ralph was born at his family home, Pineola, in Fort Valley, Georgia, on September 26, 1936. He graduated from Davidson College, where he was a member of Phi Delta Theta, The National Society of Scabbard and Blade and a winner of the Wall Street Journal Award for economics. Following college, he served in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve as a First Lieutenant.
Ralph operated his family’s farm for more than a decade and was honored with the Outstanding Young Farmer of the Year award in 1970.

In the early 1970s, he and his family relocated to Florida, first in Clearwater and, later, Leesburg. He spent more than three decades in agribusiness sales. Deeply grounded in his faith, Ralph was a long-time member of Morrison United Methodist Church, where he served as usher and head usher for more than 40 years, and a member of the Inquirers’ Sunday School class. Ralph also served on the Board of Directors of the Morrison Opportunity Thrift Store for 20 years and spent many hours working there as a volunteer.

A farmer in spirit throughout his life, Ralph had a deep love for his family, his yard and all dogs. He also enjoyed travel with Melba and many summers spent in the North Carolina mountains.

A memorial service will be announced once Canadian border restrictions are eased and the entire family can gather. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Morrison United Methodist Church or the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home.

Online condolences may be left at www.beyersfuneralhome.com Arrangements entrusted to Beyers Funeral Home and Crematory, Leesburg, FL.