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Gordon, Armbrister to be Honored

Former students and colleagues are invited to join current students, faculty and staff in honoring retired Bluefield College professors Will Gordon and David Armbrister, Saturday, December 17, during Winter Commencement.

Chris Shoemaker

November 17, 2011


Retired Bluefield College professors Will Gordon (left) and David Armbrister will be recognized with Honorary Doctorate degrees during BC's Winter Commencement, December 17.

The year was 1962. John F. Kennedy was president, astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the earth, Bluefield College opened its first girls' dormitory, and a young business professor from Nebraska joined the BC faculty.


The year was 1968. Richard Nixon had just been elected president, cigarette ads were banned from television, Dr. Charles Harman was president of Bluefield College, and another young instructor, this one a BC graduate, returned to his alma mater to teach history.


That young business professor in 1962: Will Gordon. The history professor in 1968: David Armbrister. Together, these two professors would amass 72 years of service in the classroom -- 40 for Gordon, 32 for Armbrister -- before retiring just several years ago, and on Saturday, December 17, during Winter Commencement at Bluefield College, the two will be commended for their vast loyalty when the college presents them both Honorary Doctorate degrees.


Gordon, who holds the longest tenure of any member of the BC faculty, will receive an Honorary Doctor of Science degree. Armbrister, who is also known as the college's official historian, will receive an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree.


Approved by the college's Board of Trustees and Academic Council, BC Honorary Doctorate degrees are reserved for "individuals who demonstrate outstanding professional and personal accomplishments" and "outstanding service to the community." Nominees also are individuals who achieve significant literary, social, business, scientific, religious, educational, or other accomplishments.


"These honorary degrees provide an opportunity for Bluefield College to express its appreciation to Mr. Armbrister and Mr. Gordon for all they have contributed to the college, their profession, and society," said Julie Hull Johnson, chair of the BC Board of Trustees.


Gordon, who earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in industrial management from Georgia Tech, came to Bluefield College in 1962 as an assistant professor of commerce and business. During his four decades of service, he was promoted to associate professor of business in 1977, distinguished professor of commerce and business in 1983, and senior professor in 1997.


Gordon also served as chairman of the Division of Business and was once named a Distinguished Faculty Award winner. After retiring in 2002, he was granted Faculty Emeritus status in 2009.


Armbrister, who earned an associate's degree from Bluefield College, a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Richmond, a master of arts degree from UR, and a master of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, came to BC in 1968 as an assistant professor of history and sociology. During his 32-year tenure, he was promoted to associate professor of history in 1978 and senior professor in 1997.


Armbrister also served as chairman of the Division of Social Sciences and faculty sponsor of Alpha Phi Sigma Honor Society. He also received BC's Distinguished Faculty Award and published two books on the history of Bluefield College. After retiring in 2000, he was granted Faculty Emeritus status in 2009.


Troy Peery, a 1964 BC graduate and longtime president and chief executive officer of the Heilig-Meyers Company in Richmond, Virginia, had this to say about Gordon and Armbrister when they received their Senior Professor status.


"As we go through life, we are influenced by countless individuals -- both good and bad," Peery said. "To you, Mr. Gordon and Mr. Armbrister, we thank you for the positive influence you have had on countless individuals and the influence you will continue to have from now to eternity."


Former students and colleagues, along with community friends are invited to join current students, faculty and staff in recognizing Gordon and Armbrister during Winter Commencement, December 17. The ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. in Harman Chapel. A reception in honor of the two longtime BC professors will follow inside Shott Hall.



Wayne Massey

I wish to salute my former colleagues, Will and David. Their service to Bluefield College was exemplary. These men loved their students and worked tirelessly in their behalf. It saddened me when the time came for them gently to step away from the calling that brought them here, but it now pleases me immensely to know that they are remembered positively for their contributions to the lives of so many Bluefield College students. God bless you, Will and David. Thank you for your friendship and for the example of professionalism and dedication that you both so perfectly represent.

Dr. Bill Gammon

WOW. This is hard to believe. Mr. Armbrister was a tremendous mentor to me as well as an encourager to my spiritual growth and development. I loved history and he helped to inspire that love! Mr. Gordon was always a friend as well as an encourager. He always wanted to know how things were going and what was happening in my life. Both of these fine Christian men are finishing well. What a legacy. I am so very thankful that they both had a small part in my journey. Have a great day!!! You both are loved, prayed for, and appreciated so very much.

Isaiah 40:31

Mary E.McKelvey Boni

I was a student with David Armbrister and also remember him from U.of R. May I add my congratulations and good wishes.

George R.Blaylock

David, I shall never forget the days at B.C. I have had a wonderful time in the past of talking to you and several members of the class I graduated with in 1954. I would like to take this time to congratulate you on your many accomplishments. I am sorry that I will not be able to attend. My God continue to bless you with good health and memories.

Your friend in Christ,

Reverend George R Blaylock

Harriet Roane

To Armbrister and Gorden. I am proud to be graduating on December 17th at Bluefield College. Earning a degree has been a lifetime pursuit;I am 69 years old. It will be great meeting those who have spent almost a lifetime working in the educational field helping individuals like me to realize their dreams. Seeing you receive your Honorary Doctorate degrees will make my day even more special. Congratulations to you both.

Harriet L. Roane

Cline Hall

Congratulations to you David. Since our student days at Bluefield and the U.of Richmond,(both undergraduate and graduate, I have followed your career. You went to teach history at Bluefield and I went to teach history at Liberty University and both had long careers at these institutions. I just retired after 34 years at Liberty. Thank God for your influence on students over the years. May you remaining years be happy and busy ones.

Leslie Marsh

I am happy and excited for both of you! I am sorry I won't be there but keep in mind that I am thinking of you on your special day coming up! Again congrats to both of you!

Wayne Chambliss

I had BOTH of these fine Gentlemen as teachers and friends. I remember seeing both of them at a Richmond alumni gathering.

You are both very dedicated CHRISTIANS.

Wayne Chambliss '74

David Kessler

I spent 3 years at Bluefield College (82-85) and remember these two outstanding gentlemen well. Congratulations to both on their very much deserved honors.

David Kessler '85

Nancy Camper Hicks

Congratulations Mr. Gordon. I remember spending two years in classes with you from 1965 to 1967. Thanks for giving me a good foundation and being a positvie influence on me and my business career. You certainly derserve the honor for your loyalty to Bluefield College.

Nancy Camper Hicks

Class of 1967

dan stanely

Congratulations, Mr.Armbrister. I have so many good memeories from my days at Bluefield. You were a great influence on my life. Thank you,

Dan Stanley

class of 77

Betty Bailely Rackley '56 and Dean of Women and Sociology Prof 1961-1963

Will, I worked with you. You have done a tremendous job at my Alma Mater. Thank you.

David, I knew you at U of R and am so proud that you married Cathy. You have both served our Alma Mater well, thank you..

The girls' dorm was opened before 62 because it had been opened when I came there in 61. I was Dean of Women under Dr. Harman. I loved Bluefield, but God led me back to KY where I married the man God had for me. I taught school for 40 years and also worked as a social worker for several years after getting my MA from Southern.

May God bless Bluefield College. Our dad, Rev. David L. Bailey, Sr. was the first in our family to attend Bluefield. That is where our love for the school began.

May my Alma Mater be all that she can for furthering the Gospel of Christ.

Betty Bailey Rackley 56

Tami Daniel '84

I'm a little late reading this, but wanted to chime in and wish Mr. Gordon and Mr. Armbrister congratultions. I had both of you for several classes while I was at Bluefield. Mr. Armbrister, you were very kind and patient and Mr. Gordon, well you just had my number and mostly you just shook your head in bewilderment at me. But here's the great thing - while I may not have had much direction while I was bumbling my way through Bluefield College, I actually went on to do very well in life and in my career, even ending up to be a good mother and a US Diplomat for awhile. So thank you both for your perseverance with average students like me! With a good foundation, we eventually figure it out!! Best wishes in your retirements!

Tami Daniel

Susan Ross

Having Mr. Gordon for Accounting was an inspiration. He taught us determination and self respect. He was not only a professor but a friend. Having his intelligence and humor in class made learning fun and times that will never be forgotten!

Thank you for everything you did for me and all of my alumnists at BC!! Honor well earned! Congratulations!

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