Clemson University inducts newest members in the Fort Hill Legacy Society


On November 18, 2022, Clemson University inducted the newest members into the Fort Hill Legacy Society by dedicating bronze leaves in honor of their generosity to the University: William “Bill” C. Nettles, Jr. ’55, ’59 and Patricia M. Nettles and Michael G. Roetnor, Margaret Roetnor and Phyllis Roetnor.

The Fort Hill Legacy Society honors those who leave $1 million or more to Clemson University. During the Fort Hill Legacy Society Bronze Leaf Dedication, the leaves for the Nettles and the Roetners were placed under the Second Century Oak, which stands at Fort Hill on the historic site of the University’s first Board of Trustees meeting.

William “Bill” C. Nettles, Jr. ’55, ’59 and Patricia M. Nettles

William “Bill” C. Nettles, Jr. is remembered by many as a true “Renaissance man.” He left a profound impact at Clemson University through endowments to provide scholarships and program support for plant and environmental sciences, entomology, University Libraries and the South Carolina Botanical Gardens. The Nettles family also supported the University through gifts to the Calhoun Lecture Series, Clemson University Tiger Band, the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts, Scholarships for Scholars, and the Class of 1955 Reunion Fund. Bill Nettles was a leader in helping raise the funds to establish the beloved ’55 Exchange, home of Clemson’s delicious ice cream. Every aspect of the Clemson Experience has felt the touch of the Nettles family’s legacy of dedication, loyal service and transformational philanthropy.

Nettles had a fierce intellect with a profound knowledge of culture and nature. He graduated from Clemson University with a B.S. in agricultural chemistry and M.S. in entomology. Nettles served in the U.S. Army Reserve from 1958 to 1960 and earned his doctorate in toxicology from Rutgers University in 1962. For over 32 years, he worked as a research entomologist/toxicologist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Louisiana and Texas.

President Jim Clements (left) presents gift to Bill and Pat Nettles’ niece, Catherine Cutter (right), during the Fort Hill Legacy Society Bronze Leaf Dedication.

Nettles’ wife, Patricia “Pat” Maguire, graduated from the University of Texas-Austin with a mathematics degree and then received an accounting degree from Louisiana State University. They shared 37 years together traveling the world, experiencing different cultures and enjoying their passion for nature. Sadly, Pat passed away in 2004.

Beyond academics and career pursuits, Nettles had a deep desire to leave the world a better place and dedicated himself to improving the lives of those around him.

After retiring in 1994, Bill Nettles returned to the Clemson area and settled in Salem, South Carolina. He served on the Patrons Council of the Calhoun Lecture Series at Clemson University and was recognized by the University with membership in the 1889 Society and Clemson Legacy Society. Nettles married Jean Grace McGonigal in 2006, and they enjoyed a wonderful life together. He passed away in December of 2017.

The Nettles’ love and immense generosity was a light that warmed and brightened the Clemson community, and through his posthumous support, Bill Nettles will impact and inspire generations in perpetuity.

Michael G. Roetnor, Margaret Roetnor and Phyllis Roetnor

Michael G. Roetnor was born and spent most of his life on the coast of southern California. He graduated from California State University in 1951. Following graduation, he entered the United States Air Force and flew the B29 bomber during the Korean War. For 25 years, the Roetnors resided in Los Angeles, where Michael owned a successful automobile dealership. After retirement, the couple relocated to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, in 1993. Michael and Margaret Roetnor had a son, Nick, who was a United States Army helicopter pilot. Nick Roetnor sadly passed away in 1980.

Everyone who met the Roetnors described them as kind and loving. They enjoyed sailing to various locations during retirement. This passion introduced Michael to people from all over the world. He shared his enthusiasm for golf and his love and dedication to his country as a loyal patriot.

One afternoon, Michael and Margaret Roetnor were driving through Clemson; they stopped JoVanna King, senior associate vice president for advancement, to ask for directions. This chance encounter launched a long and rewarding relationship for Clemson University and for Jim and JoVanna King with the Roetnors.

After Margaret passed away, Michael found love again with Phyllis “PJ” Roetnor. They came back to campus often which gave Michael Roetnor the chance to walk around campus and talk with students. He met several ROTC leaders, including Col. Sandy Edge and Captain Onan. After much thought, Michael agreed to pledge a significant estate commitment that would yield more than $1.5 million to create an endowed grant-in-aid in honor of Margaret Roetnor, who passed in 1996, and Phyllis Roetnor, his second wife.

Cadet Isabel Strinsky (right) accepts gift on behalf of the Roetnor family from the Fort Hill Legacy Society Bronze Leaf Dedication chair True Liles (left) and President Jim Clements (center).

The Roetnors left a legacy to inspire and prepare ROTC cadets for military service. Clemson Army and Air Force ROTC cadets carry a rich tradition of the historic Clemson Corps of Cadets. Clemson University’s Army and Air Force ROTC programs are recognized among the best in the country. Talented young students serve our great nation in every corner of the globe as the future leaders of our armed forces. Through their patriotic duty, the distinguished and selfless service of the Clemson Corps of Cadets will be kept alive and thrive with this extraordinary investment in their future.

The legacy of the Roetnors will be carried forward by the cadets of today and tomorrow, and Clemson University is forever be grateful to Michael, Margaret and Phyllis Roetnor for their unwavering commitment to patriotism and generosity.

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