Title: AU dinner honors Erskines, Gaithers
Two couples -- Bill and Gloria Gaither and Carl and Betty Erskine -- received the Anderson University Heritage Award for their contributions on the world stage and at home. Both couples attended the annual Heritage Dinner in their honor during the International Convention of the Church of God. "I love this place," Bill Gaither said with emotion as he accepted the award with his wife, Gloria, at his side. "To share this with Carl and Betty .... talk about class." Dr. James L. Edwards, president of AU, honored both the Gaithers and the Erskines for generously sharing their time and resources with the university and its students.
President Edwards had many accolades for the Gaithers, who have won a multitude of Dove and Grammy awards. They recently were honored as "Songwriters of the Century" during a musical tribute in Nashville, Tenn. Both are AU graduates.
"The community of believers has been greatly blessed by the music, lyrics and writing of these gifted alumni. Over the past three decades, their music and writing have inspired and given hope to millions of people around the nation and around the world,'' Edwards said.
Bill has served as a trustee for more than 26 years, and Gloria has brought her gift of songwriting into the classrooms. She also serves on the board of directors for the Coalition for Christian Colleges and Universities based in Washington, D.C. Both also have had significant leadership roles as co-chairs of the last two capital campaigns for AU.
President Edwards also presented the Heritage Award to the Erskines.
"I don't deserve it. Betty deserves it more than me, but we'll keep it," said Carl Erskine, who stressed the importance of teamwork in his life. He also talked of his love for Anderson.
People often ask the Erskines why they returned to Anderson after traveling the world.
"We never left. Our home base always has been here," Carl said.
"Carl and Betty have always kept the betterment of this special community very close to their hearts," Edwards said. Both have served the community in many ways.
From 1961 to 1973 after his professional baseball career ended, Carl guided the Ravens' diamond program to numerous winning seasons, taking the team to the NAIA World Series in 1965. He also served on the board of trustees and was named trustee emeritus in 1993, and he recently co-chaired the successful financial campaign for AU.
Betty has been active as a Sunday school teacher and has served for many community programs, including March of Dimes, Heart Fund, Cancer Fund, Little League, Anderson Symphony Orchestra and Community Concerts, Edwards said.
Both Carl and Betty are charter members of the Madison County Special Olympics program.
"The growth and success of this outstanding program is largely due to the enthusiastic support and leadership of Carl and Betty," Edwards said.
"Carl and Betty, you have poured out your love and resources to this community and university. Your commitment over the years has helped make their university a better place," Edwards said.
President Edwards was also recognized during the 2000 Heritage dinner. He is celebrating 10 years of leadership as president of Anderson University.
----JANICE CHAVERS is the Content Editor for Anderson Herald-Bulletin.