There are certain childhood memories that stay with us throughout our lives. For Sam ‘49 and Betty McGregor’s children, memories of Krispy Kreme donuts and visits to Clemson represent significant parts of their childhood that will never be forgotten. And the values that their parents instilled in them is evident in their lives today.
Growing up on a farm, the majority of their money was reserved for life’s necessities. But on special occasions, they had Krispy Kreme donuts. This special treat was not taken for granted in the McGregor home.
Sam and Betty often traveled from Hopkins to Columbia for school board meetings. On their way home, they would buy a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts for the family to share. Little did the children know – until several years ago, in fact – that their parents always bought two extra donuts for them to secretly enjoy together.
Although they grew up a few hours from Clemson, the McGregor family’s history is deeply rooted in orange Clemson soil. They fondly remember tailgates and Clemson football games, and several of the children officially declared their love of Clemson with degrees (Jimmy ’78, Johnny ’82 and Sam ’88). Their love of Clemson was eventually passed down to children and grandchildren. But no matter how far members of the family may have traveled from Clemson or what other universities they received their degrees from, their blood will forever run orange.
Sam was a recipient of the Clemson Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award in 1977 – the highest honor that the Association can bestow upon an alumnus or alumna. The award is given to alumni who have not only devoted their life to professionalism and public service, but who have also continued a lifelong dedication to Clemson University. Sam, a South Carolina dairy farmer, was a prominent leader among agriculture in South Carolina and was named one of four Outstanding Young Farmers in America in 1964. Betty was named National Mother of the Year in 2009 and was the recipient of Clemson’s Mother of the Year in 2010.
Sam and Betty instilled in their children the value of giving, and the McGregors created a family tradition of giving back to honor one another.
“We grew up in a family that didn’t have a lot of material things, and so when it came time for birthdays and Christmas, we would make donations in their honor to something that was very important to them,” says Jean.
They have always recognized how gifts from others made a powerful impact on their lives. Without the generosity of others, the financial struggles of paying for college would have certainly changed the outcome of their lives.
The McGregor family understands the importance of philanthropy and providing future generations with opportunities to thrive and succeed at Clemson – and in life. Because of their philanthropic spirit, along with the values instilled in them by their parents, Lib, Jean, Jimmy, Johnny and Sam are giving graciously to Clemson University.
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Choosing to establish an endowment at Clemson was an obvious choice for them – as was the choice to give toward the ’55 Exchange. And naming the endowment for their parents – that was an even more obvious choice.
“We grew up believing that public education is an investment in the future of young people everywhere,” says Jimmy.
The thoughtfulness and significance of this gift from her children is a testament to Betty’s character. When she speaks about her children and their gift to Clemson, her pride is palpable. She says, “Clemson has always been a special place to Sam and to me, so it couldn’t have been a better place for an endowment.”
When the children began discussing what they would like to incorporate into their flavor of ice cream, Krispy Kreme was the unanimous decision. “As we thought about the direction for the endowment and the ice cream flavor, we put our heads together. And there’s some great family stories,” says Lib.
The ’55 Exchange is a student-led entrepreneurial center in which the students design, manufacture, sell and serve Clemson’s world famous ice cream and other Clemson products, like blue cheese and t-shirts. All revenues generated support Clemson students and their academic and professional training.
Clemson students created a flavor – McGregor’s Salty Caramel Glazed Southern Beignet Ice Cream – specifically for the McGregor family to show the University’s appreciation for the family’s establishment of the Sam Evans McGregor ’49 & Betty Ulmer McGregor Clemson University MicroCreamery Endowment Fund.
Honoring the donors of the ’55 Exchange with a unique flavor has provided Clemson students, like Hunter Clayton ’16, with invaluable experiences. She says, “We had the opportunity to develop new flavors to honor important donors to the College of Agriculture. In doing so, those flavors were then scooped at the ’55 Exchange. Seeing someone try a flavor you developed is such a unique and rewarding experience.”
The McGregor legacy is strong at Clemson – not only because of the gifts of their treasures – but also because of Dr. Johnny McGregor’s dedication of his time and talents to the ’55 Exchange and his commitment to Clemson students. When you ask former students of the ’55 Exchange about their most memorable experiences at Clemson or who had the most profound influence on their time here, there is always a common theme to their answers – Dr. McGregor.
“From the start as a freshman, he continuously inspired me. His passion is so evident when he is teaching and he truly cares about all his students. It is because of him that I am working in the ice cream industry,” reflects Hunter.
The McGregor family embodies everything we associate with being a Clemson Tiger – hard work, dedication, commitment and a philanthropic spirit. It began with Sam and Betty. And it has continued through several generations. With their time, talent and treasures – specifically this endowment – the McGregor family is ensuring that future generations of Clemson students have the opportunity to receive a top education and have experiences that are uniquely Clemson. They hope this gift encourages others to give – and it can be as simple as visiting the ’55 Exchange.
“Alumni, community, friends and family can come and buy ice cream at the ’55 Exchange because that goes directly back into supporting the students,” says Johnny McGregor.
The McGregor family’s gift represents the motto of the ’55 Exchange, “Where Tradition Flavors the Future.” The McGregor family and the Clemson family will forever share a history. Together, they are flavoring the future for our students and ensuring their success at Clemson – and beyond.
As Betty poignantly says, “The spirit of Clemson still lives.”
You can learn how to join the McGregor family and make your gift to Clemson here.
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