The Converse community celebrates the life and legacy of longtime supporter and philanthropist Don Bain, who died Thursday, March 15, 2018. Mr. Bain was a Converse Life Trustee, father of Nancy Bain Coté ’79, son-in-law of Josephine Alexander Thomas ’22, and beloved companion of alumna Cabell Mitchell ’57. He enjoyed many Converse connections through family members and friends. Bain and his late wife, Pat, instilled in their daughter Nancy a passion for supporting this institution and serving as a driver for its continued success.
“One of the things that makes Converse special is its legion of fiercely loyal supporters who have poured their talents, resources and leadership into propelling the College forward. Don Bain is among those whose contributions stand out among this treasured group,” said Converse President Krista Newkirk. “I have enjoyed getting to know Don immensely over the last two years, and appreciated his charm and quick wit as well as his devotion to Converse. In our visits together, he spoke so fondly of his relationship with Converse.”
In 2009, Converse College presented its highest honor, the Dexter Edgar Converse Award, to Mr. Bain to recognize his many years of dedication to the College and his history of championing education in the Spartanburg community.
A native of Rochelle, Illinois, Don Bain moved to Spartanburg in 1950 to work for Moreland Chemical Company, and later became 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,” Bain said of this work.
Bain’s service as a Converse Trustee spanned 23 years, during which time he led the College through its critical Centennial Challenge Campaign, helped spearhead 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 his honor by the Board of Trustees in 1992 for “inspired and caring service to Converse College.”
Through his many years of supporting 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. In 2014, he issued the matching-gift “Bain Challenge” to propel the final push for the successful $9 million campaign funding renovations to Pell and Dexter residence halls. Today, his daughter Nancy continues his legacy through her service on the Converse Board of Trustees, by hosting the annual Senior Candlelight Dinner for students, and by providing leadership and support in many other ways.
Converse College will be forever grateful for Don Bain’s leadership and service to our College, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to his family as we join together in celebrating his life.