As Oscar Wilde famously penned, “To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” Professor J.C. “Mike” Hubbard was without doubt a man who truly lived a life that overflowed with achievement, kindness and dedication. As a lifelong educator, his academic journey began at Clemson University as a student of Textile Weaving and Design in 1938. Mike recounted his parents dropping him off on his first day in front of Tillman Hall to move into the on-campus ROTC barracks. Though he was quickly approached by two men who “rather unceremoniously” escorted him to a room where “they proceeded to remove ALL of the hair from my head,” this initial experience did not dim what would become Mike’s lifelong love of Clemson University and the surrounding community.
Upon graduating from Clemson in 1942, Mike selflessly served our country as a combat officer in WWII. His dedication and honorable service led to a Purple Heart, Bronze Star, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, four battle stars and an arrowhead. These signs of valor and wholehearted commitment go beyond Mike’s illustrious military service and speak deeply of who he was as a person: a devoted husband for 79 years to his beloved wife, Margaret, a loving father to his three children, a man of faith, and an esteemed member of the Clemson community. Mike was a Boy Scout leader for many years and truly lived by their slogan, “do a good turn daily.”
After his tour in WWII, Mike spent several years at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he received his master’s degree. In 1947, the Hubbards returned to Clemson University, and Mike began his career in the College of Textiles. Professor Hubbard’s tenure with Clemson spanned more than 35 years, during which he achieved the esteemed position of Alumni Professor in 1982 and then Alumni Distinguished Professor Emeritus when he retired in 1984. Guiding thousands of students toward successful careers after graduation was one of Professor Hubbard’s gifts to the Clemson community and one he always hoped others would give to honor his legacy.
After almost four decades at Clemson University, Professor Hubbard gave a profound response that speaks to his selfless nature and passion for student success in and out of the classroom. When asked what message he would like to pass on to future generations, he said, “Any gift to this university, regardless of its size, must advance the stock of Clemson both academically and physically. Clemson must counsel students to direct their motivations towards the goal of being an asset to society. Nothing less is acceptable. A graduate’s knowledge and accomplishments will reflect credit on Clemson University. Loyalty from Clemson to its students, as well as from students back to Clemson, creates the community that each of us hope to sustain.”
Working in academia at Clemson University, Professor Hubbard developed an advocacy for a holistic approach to preparing future generations of Tiger graduates. While employment is important, he also believed involvement in charitable organizations, local government and church to be equally important to construct a well-lived life. Professor Hubbard wanted Clemson’s students to be leaders in their community upon graduation – a mission that our great institution’s faculty and staff continue to foster today thanks to the help of his donation establishing a legacy of scholarships for undergraduate students.
Professor Hubbard recently passed away in March, but his generous spirit and dedication to Clemson lives on through the J.C. Hubbard Endowed Educational Fund that he and his family established through a charitable remainder annuity trust. This philanthropic investment allows future generations of students the opportunity to attend Professor Hubbard’s beloved Clemson University while also meeting the Hubbards’ investment goals that allowed them to sustain their lifestyle after retirement. His choice to give back by financing an annuity through Clemson not only honored his lifelong career relationship with the College of Textiles but also his marriage to his high school sweetheart, Margaret.
Throughout his years at Clemson, Professor Hubbard gave a plethora of advice to those with the fortunate opportunity to know or learn from him. He wisely said, “During my life I was told never to lend money to students, friends or family! I have done all of the above and never lost a penny. Keep the faith!”
As a Clemson family, we can honor Professor Hubbard’s legacy and “do a good turn daily” through big or small thoughtful acts – and always, “Keep the faith.”
Visit clemson.edu/giving, and learn how you can build a legacy at Clemson.
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