Life Member Stories – Clarence

ClarencePerhaps it’s not fair for me to compete, but I’ll at least share with the other Life Members why I became one.

In 1970 when I succeeded “Spike” Saunders as Alumni Secretary (that’s what we called the office back then) he handed me a list of the 41 alumni who had become Life Members. He explained that he had a very conservative treasurer who wasn’t sold on the Life Membership program, hence they had not promoted it.

Originally the cost was $100 or $125 for an alumni couple. I looked at the list of 41 and saw that two had wives who were not enrolled as Life Members. I numbered the names and added those two as No. 42 and 43. I paid for my own Life Membership (by then it was $150) and took No. 44, which happened to be my UNC class.

Later we had many alumni who requested that their Life Membership number be the same as their class, and we accommodated as many as we could.

Instead of letting the money sit in a money market account at the local bank, we started investing the funds in bonds and the money we earned each year was more than the annual dues.

When I left the Alumni Office in 1982 we had enrolled over 10,000 Life Members and were adding about 1,000 each year. I’m pleased to report that the money we received from the Life Membership program helped put the Alumni Association on a firm financial footing for the first time in its history.

Clarence Whitefield ‘44 | Life Member 44 | Chapel Hill