June 3, 1998

VSU to award honorary doctorate to community leader

A longtime community leader and supporter of Valdosta State University will be recognized with an honorary doctorate at spring commencement exercises.

According to Dr. Hugh C. Bailey, VSU president, James L. Dewar, Sr., will be conferred a Doctor of Laws degree during commencement scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, June 13 at the P.E. Complex on Baytree Road.

"James L. Dewar, Sr., has been a friend and supporter of Valdosta State University for over four decades," Bailey said. "He has touched the lives of hundreds of our students and provided outstanding leadership for our Foundation and other university departments.

"No one in this region is more widely respected or more highly esteemed," he said.

Dewar was born in Cook County on September 18, 1911. Not long after, he and his family moved to Lowndes County where he attended the public schools and graduated from Valdosta High School. He began his collegiate education at Emory Junior College in Valdosta and received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Georgia. He moved on to be a teacher, coach, principal and, for 15 years, superintendent of Lowndes County Schools. From 1967-1973, he was a member of the Georgia State Board of Education.

At the age of 45, Dewar opened a small banking operation in Valdosta, the Park Avenue Bank, which has emerged as a major financial institution.

Throughout the years, Dewar has been generous in his support of Valdosta State. In 1966, he established the Mattie Hendry Dewar Scholarship and Loan Fund, which has assisted hundreds of students in attending the institution. In 1978, Dewar and his wife established the Eva Carroll Herndon Scholarship Fund which annually provides at least four scholarships for VSU students. In 1996, he made a gift to the University Foundation of the property on the corner of Ashley Street and Park Avenue. Also in 1996, the directors of the Park Avenue Bank established an endowment which provides an annual scholarship in honor of Dewar.

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