During its annual Thousand Thanks Gala Thursday evening, Converse College presented its highest honor, the Dexter Edgar Converse Award, to longtime Spartanburg resident Don Bain. Bain’s selection for the award was based upon his many years of solid dedication to the college and his history of championing education in the Spartanburg community.
Presenting the award to Bain were the 2008 recipients: Betty James Montgomery (a member of the Converse class of 1972) and her husband Walter S. Montgomery, Jr. “Don has always been a strong advocate for education, and is not one to shy away from a challenge or from controversy. For example, the last nine years of his tenure with Spartanburg District 7’s School Board were as chairman during the integration years,” said Walter Montgomery. “Luckily for Converse, Don’s passion for education extended to single-gender education, inspired in part by several members of his family who are Converse alumnae. His interest in Converse was also fueled by his work in public school education, where he saw first-hand the difference that Converse graduates made—and continue to make—across our state as teachers and administrators in our schools. He wisely recognized that an investment in the Converse education program would yield returns many times over in our public schools – and thus in the quality of life for citizens of South Carolina.”
A native of Rochelle, Illinois, Bain moved to Spartanburg in 1950 to work for Moreland Chemical Company. In 1965, he was appointed as the company’s president. A year before joining the Converse Board of Trustees in 1969, he helped broaden the college’s impact upon public education by chairing a special gifts committee in support of the Converse education department. “I am a strong proponent of single gender education, and I firmly believe that women are able to reach their fullest potential in an environment such as the one provided by Converse,” said Bain.
Bain’s service as a Converse Trustee spanned 23 years as he, among other things, led the college through its critical Centennial Challenge Campaign, spearheaded a complete renovation of Twichell Auditorium, provided clear guidance in a transition of presidential leadership and served as board chairman. Fittingly, the William Donald Bain, Jr. Room, located in Wilson Hall, was dedicated in Don’s honor by the Trustees in 1992 for “inspired and caring service to Converse College.”
By supporting Converse financially through primary means of the Converse Annual Fund, Bain’s generous gifts have touched practically every corner of the Converse campus – from scholarships, library acquisitions and study-travel opportunities to music and athletic necessities.
Bain was married to the late Pat Thomas Bain until her death in 1991. The couple had three daughters: Kittler, a graduate of Sewanee; Anne, a graduate of Colorado College; and Nancy, a graduate of Converse. In 1996, Bain married the former Barrie Feighner.