When you meet Tommy Byerly '65, it's nearly impossible to not have a smile on your face. He's one of those people whose excitement and enthusiasm are contagious. And when it comes to his feelings for Lees-McRae College, he doesn't hold back! Byerly exudes Bobcat spirit. He lights up when he talks about the basketball game he attended, the student performance he saw in Hayes Auditorium during Homecoming, and students he meets while enjoying lunch in the dining hall or just strolling across campus.
For nearly 40 years after leaving Lees-McRae, Tommy visited the High Country with his late wife of 27 years to hike and enjoy the area, but he hadn't set foot on campus in decades. If you know Byerly now, that's hard to believe. It was Alumni Frolic Week in 2007 that he ventured back onto his beloved campus.
Byerly, who is from Sanford, NC, attended Campbell University after earning his associate's degree at Lees-McRae. He says his Lees-McRae College education gave him the foundation to pursue a successful career in sales at WSW Textiles. That's one of the reasons he loves Lees-McRae and gives back to his Alma Mater. "I give back to LMC with pleasure and gratitude for all the college has given to me," Byerly said. Byerly has been a regular supporter of Lees-McRae for several years, and has worked with the Advancement Office on a planned gift.
Byerly remembers his days at Lees-McRae fondly. "My favorite memories from my years at Lees-McRae are gathering with friends at the student union and cheering on the Bobcats at football and basketball games."
His words of wisdom for Lees-McRae students: "Have a smile on your face and a song in your heart." These are truly words by which he lives.
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