Our Donors


American Legion Pou-Parrish Post 132

Members of the American Legion’s Pou-Parrish Post 132 decided in October 1995 to create a scholarship endowment at Johnston Community College. The purpose of the scholarship was to help students from Johnston County who need financial help to attend college.

“The value of having the endowment with JCC is the knowledge that we are making a long-term contribution to the American Legion program of Americanism, which includes community service, veterans’ education and youth education,” said Post 132 Commander Ernie Allsbrook.

“It also pleases us that we have a relationship with a great community organization like JCC,” he said.
Since the fund’s creation, JCC has been able to award several scholarships on behalf of the American Legion Post.

Picture: Ernest Allsbrook, Jr., American Legion Pou-Parrish Post 132 Commander (left) and scholarship recipient (right)

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Annie Batten Lee Scholarship Endowment

Annie Batten Lee spent her life on a family farm in Johnston County, but she also spent some time working as a teacher’s assistant and was a firm believer in the importance of education.

Her son, Ayden Lee, created a scholarship endowment to honor her.

“This was a way to honor her,” Lee said. “I’m a big believer in community colleges. They raise the quality of life throughout the county.”

After Mrs. Lee’s death in 1987, Lee decided a scholarship in her name was the best way to honor her memory.

“I’m a lifelong resident of Johnston County and I want to see it grow and prosper. Johnston Community College certainly helps that,” Lee said.

Pictured: Ayden Lee, fund originator and his wife, Betty Lee, standing with scholarship recipients.

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Ayden and Betty Lee Scholarship Endowment

Honored as distinguished citizens at the 2016 Evening for Education, both Ayden and Betty Lee have demonstrated their unwavering support of Johnston Community College and its students. The Ayden and Betty Lee Scholarship Endowment was created as a collaborative effort between JCC Foundation and Four Oaks Bank to commemorate Ayden and Betty’s achievement and service to our community.

Ayden and Betty Lee are longtime Johnston County residents.

Ayden began his first term as a Foundation Board Director in 2001 with his last term ending in 2010. During this time, JCC Foundation saw tremendous growth – including the addition of many scholarship endowments, two of which were personally established by Ayden and Betty.

Betty retired from service with Progress Energy, and Ayden, after 35 years as president and chief executive officer of Four Oaks Bank & Trust Company recently stepped down, but continues to serve as chairman of the bank’s board.
The Lees have one son, Jason, a daughter-in-law, Jenny, and two grandchildren – J.T. and Price.

Pictured left to right: Dr. David Johnson (College President), Betty Lee, Ayden Lee, Lyn Austin (President, Board of Trustees)

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Barbara Anders Hoffman Endowment

Barbara Anders Hoffman’s father wanted all four of his daughters to go to college and get science degrees so they could support themselves if necessary.

Mrs. Hoffman was the second daughter and the only one who attended secretarial school rather than college. But she instilled the dream of higher education in her own children, said her daughter, Donna Steele.

“She was so certain she wanted her children to go to college, and four out of five of them did,” she said.

Mrs. Steele, who retired as director of technical training at Grifols in Clayton, served nine years on the Johnston Community College Foundation Board. It was during her tenure on the board that she decided to honor her mother’s memory by endowing a scholarship in her name at JCC to help others go to college.

Mrs. Steele became a teacher after earning an undergraduate degree, but later returned to college for a master’s degree in adult education and began her career in employee training at Grifols, a pharmaceutical company.

She remembered her mother as the daughter who was supposed to be a veterinarian but wound up finishing secretarial school. Her sisters were a pharmacist, a chemist turned teacher, and an occupational therapist.

Her grandfather, Mrs. Steele said, “did pretty well in getting them to do what he wanted.”

And while Mrs. Hoffman never became a veterinarian, one of her granddaughters is a vet in New York.

Pictured left to right: Barry Partlo (President, JCC Foundation Board of Directors), Mrs. Donna Steele (fund originator), Dr. David Johnson (College President).

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Billy L. Phillips Annual Scholarship

Billy L. Phillips was a HETT Instructor at Johnston Community College for 24 years where he held an ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) Master Medium/Heavy Truck Certification. He was a member of the NC Transportation Maintenance Council (State Board of Directors Vice Chairperson), NCADIA (North Carolina Automotive and Diesel Instructors Association), North Carolina Community College Faculty Association, and Johnston Community College Faculty Association (Faculty Senator). He also served on the Southern Wayne High School Diesel Program Advisory Committee, NC Transportation Maintenance Council Scholarship Fundraiser Coordinator, NC Transportation Maintenance Council Scholarship Awards Committee, and NC Trucking Association TMC State Technician Competition Judge.

Picture: Billy L. Phillips (left) with wife, Kara Phillips (right), at the 2017 Evening for Education Event.


Branch Bank & Trust Endowment

The Branch Bank & Trust Endowment was initiated in 1996 by Ernie Ward, who at that time was the senior vice-president and commercial market executive for Branch Bank & Trust (BB&T) in Johnston County. Since just after the Civil War, the home-grown banking institution has sought to strengthen economic development in North Carolina and aboard, and its investment in the scholarship endowment serves as an example how the institutions invests in the community.

Through Ward’s volunteer involvement at Johnston Community College as a JCC Foundation board member, he was able to see, first-hand, the incredible need for scholarship support. “We step in and try to help people who really want to improve themselves,” said Ward in an interview with the Smithfield Herald.

BB&T is one of the largest financial services holding companies in the U.S. with $221.6 billion in assets and market capitalization of $38.9 billion as of December 31, 2017. Building on a long tradition of excellence in community banking, BB&T offers a wide range of financial services including retail and commercial banking, investments, insurance, wealth management, asset management, mortgage, corporate banking, capital markets and specialized lending.

Pictured: Ernie Ward

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Brannon Worth Brady, Crystal Lee Higgins and Skylar Mark Brady Scholarship Endowment

Brannon Worth Brady was an only child and the kind of adult son who would stop by Bojangles to pick up breakfast for his parents on mornings when his job for Johnston County Utilities brought him close to home.

He had attended the heating and air conditioning program at Johnston Community College and his fiancé, Crystal Lee Higgins, graduated from the school’s medical assistant program in May, just a few months before their son, Skylar Mark Brady, was born in August 2008.

“You could tell they were going to be exceptional parents, just in those few days,” Brenda Brady said as she talked about her son and his young family.

Brannon and Crystal were taking six-day-old Skylar for his first visit to a pediatrician when their car was struck by a train near Princeton. All three of them died. Brannon was 25; Crystal 22.

Brenda and Brannon’s father, Ricky, decided to do something to remember them, establishing the Brannon Worth Brady, Crystal Lee Higgins and Skylar Mark Brady Scholarship Endowment.

Brannon and Crystal were only children and Skylar was the only grandchild in both families.

“We couldn’t send Skylar to college, but we could do something for someone else,” Mrs. Brady said.

“They would want people to use this as a way to make a better life for themselves,” Mrs. Brady said.

The scholarship’s top candidates will be employees or direct heirs of Johnston County Public Utilities, followed by any Johnston County government employee, then by students seeking a career in medical assisting.

The amount of any scholarship depends on the performance of the endowment fund.

Pictured left to right: Brannon Worth Brady, Skylar Mark Brady, Crystal Lee Higgins


Burlington Foundation Scholarship Endowment Fund

The Burlington Foundation Scholarship Endowment Fund was initiated with a gift of $1,000 in 1992 from Burlington Industries, Inc. Despite numerous changes in the company, particularly the acquisition of Burlington Industries by International Textile Group, the fund has substantially grown and has provided our students with scholarships for over two decades.

In the late nineties, Burlington Industries and Johnston Community College partnered to develop an Adult Learning Center at the Burlington Plant in Smithfield. Although Burlington Industries no longer maintains a facility in Smithfield, JCC students are still benefiting from the company’s generosity.

To learn more about the history of Burling Industries please visit: https://www.ncpedia.org/burlington-industries

Pictured: Burlington Industries logo

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Burton W. and Rose Gordon Sugg Scholarship Endowment

The Burton W. and Rose Gordon Sugg Scholarship Endowment carries the name of a couple who raised eight children in Smithfield and strongly supported education and reading.

Jefferson L. Sugg, who created the endowment, wanted to help students with financial need. He was able to go to college thanks to the G.I. Bill, but his daughter remembers that her grandparents were “always just above poverty level.”

Amy Allen, one of Jefferson Sugg’s daughters, remembers her grandfather as a master plumber, and her grandmother had a fulltime job managing the eight children.

“There was always reading material in the house and the family members were all voracious readers,” Ms. Allen said.

Her late father, Jefferson, became a builder and created both residential and commercial developments in Cary over 50 years. He made arrangements prior to his death to have his 150-acre farm became a designated land conservancy. It is now a park in Holly Springs.

Amy Allen remembers her father as a man who was full of fun and described pranks he and his friends played over the years. People who left comments on his online obituary echoed her descriptions, one remembering his “sparkling wit and unique sense of humor.”

Pictured: Jefferson Sugg (fund originator)

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Carol B. Arnn Nursing Scholarship Endowment

Carol B. Arnn is a longtime nurse who wanted to give back to the new generation of nurses. She and her family created the Carol B. Arnn Nursing Scholarship Endowment at Johnston Community College to do just that, said her son, Nathan Arnn.

The Arnn family operates Smithfield Manor, a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility in Johnston County. Carol Arnn is still a nurse there.

“We rely heavily on graduates of that college to operate our business,” Nathan Arnn said. “We know what impact they have on this community.”

The Carol B. Arnn scholarship is intended for students in the nursing program at JCC.

Pictured: Carol Arnn (left), David Arnn (right)


Carolina Comfort Air, Inc. Annual Scholarship

Employees of Carolina Comfort Air Inc. surprised co-founder Phillip Tyler in 2014 by creating an annual scholarship in his name at Johnston Community College.

“Our president, Phillip Tyler, attended JCC,” said Carolina Comfort Air General Manager Bill Green. “He felt JCC really opened the door for him to do the things he’s done.”

It was Tyler’s sister, Carol Grooms, who came up with the idea to create the scholarship fund to honor her brother as a surprise Christmas present.

Two $500 scholarships, divided into $250 for each semester, are awarded each year to a Johnston County resident in the heating and air conditioning program at the school.

“We’re really happy to be involved with the college,” Green said. “It’s a win-win situation.”

The company sees the scholarships as a way to get people are trained in the HVAC trade and helps the company fill positions. Even if they go to work for someone else, “we’ll take the chance to make sure other people have the same opportunities.”

Carolina Comfort Air is the nation’s third-largest Trane dealer, Green said. “When we ask them to contribute and donate equipment to Johnston Community College, they come through and we appreciate that.”

Pictured: Brian Worley, program director, Applied Industrial Technology Dept,, JCC (left), Phillip Tyler, founder, Carolina Comfort Art, Inc. (right)

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Carolina Connet Memorial Endowment

A Memorial Tribute to Caroline Connet
By George Thomas

Shock, a terrible sense of emptiness and loss, disbelief, sadness, grief…none of the usual words that come to mind at a time like this are adequate to express what I have felt since learning of Caroline’s death.

I’ll never forget the day I met Caroline. She had applied to the JCC personnel office shortly after moving to Smithfield from Tennessee. As soon as I saw her application I knew that she was the answer to a prayer. We desperately needed an English instructor for the upcoming semester. In addition, a proposal was in the works to request that the JCC administration authorize a quality improvement team to evaluate the need for an Advising Center. Caroline instantly met both needs. She had a master’s degree in English and had organized and directed an Advising Center in Tennessee that was the model system for that state’s colleges and universities. Caroline was no ordinary English instructor. She had been honored as an Instructor of the Year nominee and also as Community College Instructor of the Year.

Caroline lived up to all expectations and more. She did an outstanding job in the classroom while laying the groundwork for our Advising Center. All obstacles were met with a gracious smile and a non-threatening determination to provide our students a top notch Advising Center. Caroline succeeded in every respect. Her expertise on advising was recognized nationally. Just a few months ago she was selected as a presenter at the annual meeting of a national professional association of academic advisers.
Caroline was an outstanding coworker with a great attitude and spirit. She was always flexible, always willing to listen, always open to suggestion, and always stood her ground when it really mattered with charm, grace, and dignity. One of her trademarks was her humor and her disarming smile.

Professionally we will greatly miss Caroline. She has left a void at Johnston Community College that will not be easily filled. During her short tenure with us, Caroline raised the bar leaving us with a difficult challenge to meet.

There are many of us who have lost a dear friend whose memory will be eternally cherished. On last speaking to Caroline, I called her as she was walking past my office door. When she stepped in my office, I told her how much I appreciated the outstanding job she was doing. She laughed it off and went on her way, but I knew inside that she appreciated being appreciated. In reflection, it is comforting to know that when we last talked, I made her smile.

We do not know what the future holds for any of us, but if by chance you see Caroline before I do, tell her that I miss her.

Pictured: Scholarship recipient (left), Jenny Stewart, JCC Foundation Board Member (right)

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C.O. Heavner Sr. Scholarship Endowment

When Frank Holding was a kid, he loved to hang out at Smithfield Mule Company with its owner, C.O. Heavner. He’d go there after school and sometimes skipped school just to spend time with the mules and Heavner.

He never forgot that relationship with Heavner and created a scholarship in Heavner’s name.

He said my dad was like a father to him, said Cecil Heavner Jr.

Holding is best known for his banking interests, from First Citizens to Southern National Banks, but Heavner was more of a small-town businessman.

Heavner moved to Smithfield from Williamston in the 1930s. While the buying and selling of mules long went out of fashion, Heavner was successful with a string of other businesses in Eastern North Carolina.

Pictured: Student recipients


C. Thelbert and Loriene L. Lancaster Scholarship Endowment

Neal Lancaster, local golf player turned PGA pro, has collaborated with the Johnston Community College Foundation for over twenty years to raise scholarship funding for JCC students. In fact, his annual golf tournament, the Neal Lancaster – Four Oaks Charity Classic, has raised over $1,000,000 in funding.

Lancaster started the C. Thelbert and Loriene L. Lancaster Scholarship Endowment to honor the legacy of his grandfather and grandmother. The endowment supports students who enroll at JCC with unmet financial need.

Pictured: Neal Lancaster

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Dr. Eric and Kendyl Janis Annual Scholarship

No strings attached. No restrictions. Dr. Eric Janis has been donating generously to Johnston Community College for years, and he doesn’t put any restrictions on his gift. He laughs at the idea.

“I believe in Johnston Community College and believe it is doing great work,” he said. “It’s important to Johnston County.” JCC knows who the deserving students are without his input, he says.

The well-known cardiologist has been serving the community for 21 years and has been supporting JCC for almost as long.

“I believe in the community college,” he reiterated. “It’s great for our community, with great leadership.”

While he doesn’t restrict or limit what students his scholarship supports, most recipients have been in the health program, mostly nursing students.

“It’s all good,” he said. More people should support the work of the community college because it improves life for county residents, he said.

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Freddie Price Memorial Scholarship

When Freddie Price died from brain cancer, his fellow instructors from Johnston Community College wanted to honor him. They decided to establish a scholarship in his name that would support a JCC student enrolling in a trade. Price had been a vocational instructor.

Price’s co-worker, Phil Beaumont along with his wife Carol, led the creation of the scholarship. “We just wanted to do something to honor him,” Carol said. “He was an instructor with the JCC prison program.” Price and his colleagues taught prisoners a trade they could use after serving time.

Established in June 2003, the Freddie Price Memorial Scholarship gave priority to an ex-offender as recommended by the JCC educational staff at Johnston Correctional Institution. Over the years, any student interested in a trade could qualify. The other instructors in the prison program gave memorial gifts, payroll deductions, and in some cases, matching employer gifts to the scholarship fund.

“(Price) was a strong supporter of vocational education,” she said. “Not everyone needs a liberal arts degree.” Her husband teaches horticulture, but prisoners are also taught the trades, such as baking or plumbing, along with their GEDs.

“We’re always going to need people to do these things,” she said. The Freddie Price Memorial Scholarship will help a deserving JCC student learn a trade.

Pictured: Phil Beaumont (left), JCC faculty member, and scholarship recipient (right).

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Fred Earl Brink Scholarship Endowment

Fred Earl Brink got to know most every kid who grew up in Smithfield between 1946 and 1976 while working at the movie theaters his wife’s family operated in small towns across Eastern North Carolina.
“He didn’t really have a connection to (Johnston Community College) except for the kids who went there,” said Louise Brigman of Wilmington, Brink’s daughter.
Those young people are probably why her mother created the Fred Earl Brink Scholarship Endowment in his memory after her father died, she said.
Carolyn Howell Brink met her future husband at a dance at held at a log cabin still standing near U.S. 70 in Smithfield while Brink was a young soldier stationed at Fort Bragg. They married before he deployed in World War II.
Although he was born in Nebraska and grew up in Texas, he returned to Smithfield after the war and worked at the Howell Theaters. “Mother said he was a jolly good fellow who always had a smile and loved a joke,” Mrs. Brigman said.

Pictured (left to right): Lisa Sullivan (JCC Foundation Board Member) and scholarship recipient.


Shelton and Kathleen Benson Nursing Scholarship

Kathleen Benson lived most of her life as a farmer’s wife and mother, raising five children on husband Shelton Benson’s family farm. She began her adult life, though, as a nurse and returned to that career after her children were in college.

She didn’t end her role as farmer’s wife, though. She’d get lunch started before leaving for her 3 a.m. to 11 a.m. shift, and she’d be home in time to get lunch on the table, remembered daughter Kathy Benson Lancaster, who, with her daughter and one of her sisters, shared her mother’s call into nursing.

Shelton Benson was always involved in community affairs, Mrs. Lancaster remembers. He’d work the tobacco farm all day, rush in for dinner and a shower and then head off to a meeting of the Benson and South Johnston School Boards, the Johnston County Health Department, or Johnston Community College Board of Trustees.

It wasn’t until after Kathleen Benson’s too-short life ended at 62 that JCC started a nursing program.

“Dad was already on the board when the nursing school opened and he was very excited about that and worked hard. I think it was …sort of a way to honor her,” Mrs. Lancaster said.

After Shelton Benson died at age 92, their children decided to honor their parents with the scholarship in the nursing program.


Universal Leaf North America U.S. Scholarship Endowment

The Universal Leaf North America tobacco company may reside in Nashville, NC, and be part of a global group of 32 companies, but it strives to make a difference as locally as where their employees live.

“One of our objectives as a company to be in the community,” said Vanessa Smith, vice president of Human Resources. Many of their employees come from Johnston County, so in 2015 the company set up the Universal Leaf North America U.S. Scholarship Endowment at Johnston Community College.

Universal Leaf North America takes the tobacco purchased by tobacco companies from the tobacco farmers, and cleans it and packages the tobacco for the companies. And they store the tobacco if the company isn’t ready to get it back.

So the scholarship is for employees or anyone going into manufacturing, Smith said. The scholarship recipients are selected from a list of priorities. First choice is an employee, then an employee’s spouse or child or grandchild with financial needs. The next choice is to go to anyone who in an industrial or business program.

Then there was the time no one fit that criteria with the required 3.0 grade point average, and the scholarship went to a nursing student. “Anyone with the grades and financial need deserves it,” Smith said.

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Wade H. and Annie P. Stephenson Family Scholarship Endowment

Growing up during the height of the Great Depression on farms limited Wade H. and Annie P. Stephenson’s ability to get an advanced education, but they were determined to change that for their own four children.
After suffering a stroke, Wade Stephenson told his children he wanted to leave behind a scholarship fund at Johnston Community College.
“He was a real advocate for education,” said daughter Brenda Abbott. “This was a way to pay it forward, to provide young people with an opportunity for a higher education.”
Mrs. Abbott thinks he was inspired in part by the stories she told about the successes of her students in the business technology systems program at JCC and how their studies gave them a chance to really change their lives.
“I think that’s why he wanted his endowment to go there,” she said.
Mrs. Abbott said mother was the quieter partner in the family, but was a loving person who had a great impact on all who knew her. Wade Stephenson was “the flamboyant one; very active in the community and local politics. He was on the Johnston County School Board and chairman for at least eight years.”

Pictured left to right: Sue Moore (daughter of Wade H. and Annie P. Stephenson) , Christina Wall (scholarship recipient), and Brenda Abbott (daughter of Wade H. and Annie P. Stephenson)