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Maynards honored at special College Coffee & tree planting

Reid and Grace Maynard’s ardent support of Elon in its formative years was recognized Tuesday during Founders Day events on campus.

Elon University President Leo M. Lambert (left) joins members of the Maynard family in planting a tree March 12 in the Academic Village in honor of Reid and Grace Maynard. Reid and Grace Maynard are the Founders Day 2013 honorees at Elon.


The campus community celebrated Founders Day 2013 on Tuesday during a special College Coffee and tree-planting that honored the late Reid A. and Grace M. Maynard, longtime supporters of Elon and one of the most prominent couples in North Carolina throughout much of the 20th century.

Reid Maynard served for more than three decades as an Elon trustee, the same number of years he devoted to the board at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and he was part of the committee that selected former Elon President J. Earl Danieley to lead the school. He received an honorary doctor of laws degree from Elon in 1970.

Maynard founded Grace Hosiery Mills, Inc. – named for his wife – and started producing men’s hosiery in 1927. It was the first of several mills that he would open and a move that launched a lengthy and notable career in the textile industry, which had significant impact on Alamance County’s economy and put Burlington on the map as “Hosiery Center of the South.”

Reid Maynard later organized Tower Hosiery Mill, Long Finishing Mills and Webco Mills, which would merge into Dan River Mills. He served as director and chairman of the National Association of Hosiery Manufacturers. At the time of his death in September 1983, he was serving as chairman of the board of Tower Hosiery Mills and was a director at Leath, McCarthy and Maynard, Inc., Lemco Mills and Copland Fabrics.

In testimony to the couple’s commitment to Elon and philanthropy, Maynard Hall, a residence hall in the former Story Center complex that first opened in 1982, was named in their honor. The name continues today on a residence hall in the Danieley Center.

After Grace Maynard’s death in 1988, their stately two-story, Georgian-style brick home was bequeathed to Elon to serve as the president’s residence. Maynard House, which overlooks the 10th hole of the Alamance County golf course, remains a versatile facility used by President Leo M. Lambert and his family to host university receptions, dinners and meetings, with ample space to accommodate overnight stays by dignitaries and guests.

In 2007, Elon board member James W. and Jo Anne A. Maynard of Burlington also made a major gift to establish the Elon Business Fellows endowment in memory of his parents.

President Emeritus J. Earl Danieley shares stories and reflections of the Maynards in remarks he gave during College Coffee on March 12, 2013.

“We’re honored and flattered to have this recognition for our parents,” James Maynard said Tuesday following the tree-planting. “I want to thank Dr. Lambert, the staff and students who worked so hard to put this together. And certainly the students! Their presence is wonderful. My parents would feel honored to know this happened today.”

Elon established Founders Day in 1939 to honor significant figures from its first half century in existence. Today, the annual Founders Day celebrations continue to commemorate the lives of administrators, faculty and trustees who impacted the growth of the institution. Programs throughout the week often include a College Coffee dedicated to honorees, a special Numen Lumen event (formally College Chapel), displays in Belk Library and trivia contests on E-net.

A tree-planting is another relatively recent tradition tied to Founders Day. Young white oak trees have been spaced around the Academic Village, and the Maynards’ tree was planted in front of the Numen Lumen Pavilion, the university’s new multi-faith center and home to the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life.

College Coffee had been moved to McKinnon Hall earlier Tuesday as rain bands moved through North Carolina. Speaking to hundreds of students, faculty, staff and members of the Maynard family, two Elon presidents - President Emeritus J. Earl Danieley and current University President Leo M. Lambert - reflected on just how critical Reid and Grace were to the development of the school.

“They understood the value of Elon College to this region and were deeply committed to its growth and development,” Danieley said. “And his experience on the Board of Trustees at Chapel Hill, alongside Bill Friday, allowed him to be an unusually effective trustee here.”

In his opening remarks, Lambert shared with the room the history of Founders Day and its meaning during a week that celebrates the university’s origins. Elon was chartered on March 11, 1889, and will celebrate its quasquicentennial next March.

“Happy 124th birthday, Elon!” Lambert told the crowd. “And she’s still looking awfully good!”

Eric Townsend,
3/12/2013 1:10 PM