Skip to main content Skip to footer
Western Carolina Alum Tobe Childers Receives Southern Conference Distinguished Service Award

June 13, 2007

Spartanburg, S.C. - Western Carolina alum, Tobe Childers, was amongh the 11 recipients of the Southern Conference's 2007 Distinguished Service Award. Each member institution selects an honoree based upon their overall contribution to the institution. These individuals were honored on June 1, 2007, in Hilton Head, SC, at the conference's annual Honors Dinner.

The Distinguished Service Award program was started in 2002 as a way for the Southern Conference to recognize those individuals from its member institutions who have contributed to all aspects of the university. This year's honorees include Reba Smith Moretz (Appalachian State), John and Dana Tiller (College of Charleston), Brenda Lawson (Chattanooga), Gene Moore III (The Citadel), Robert F. Vagt (Davidson), Jerry and Jeanne Robertson (Elon), Christopher Reid Borch (Furman), Arthur Howard (Georgia Southern), Edwin S. (Jim) Melvin (UNC Greensboro), Tobe Childers (Western Carolina) and Elliott Franklin "Eli" Sanders (Wofford).

"Whether it's collegiate athletics or the corporate business world, organizations are only as successful as the people who support them," said Southern Conference Commissioner John Iamarino. "The Distinguished Service Award honors those individuals who have gone above and beyond the call to assist Southern Conference institutions better achieve their goals to the benefit of thousands of student-athletes. We sincerely appreciate their efforts and are happy to recognize the award recipients with this honor."

Childers lettered on the Catamount football team from 1958 through 1960 under head coach Dan Robinson.

Reba Smith Moretz (Appalachian State University)
Reba Smith Moretz has served on the Appalachian State Board of Trustees since 1999. She earned a bachelor's (1953) and master's degree (1954) in music education from Appalachian State. Owner of Appalachian Ski Mountain, Inc. since 1968, she has been active in the community. She is a member of the Watauga County Library Endowment Council, Boone Area Chamber of Commerce and the ASU College of Arts and Sciences Advancement Council. She serves on the Appalachian Summer Festival Advisory Board and is treasurer of the Southeastern Ski Areas Association. She and her husband, D. Grady Moretz, Jr. reside in Boone, N.C. The couple has two children John Bradford Moretz and Brenda Ann Moretz.

John and Dana Tiller (College of Charleston)
John and Dana Tiller have been loyal and active supporters of the College of Charleston since their undergraduate days, before they both graduated in 1984. Since the early 1990s, they have sustained an unmatched level of involvement and support. John is a practicing attorney and partner with Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd. Dana has been a CPA for more than 20 years. They have served numerous community organizations in leadership and supporting roles while staying active with the College. While maintaining their Cougar Club (now Golden Cougars) membership at the highest level, they have dedicated even more in time and effort to the Cougar Club and the College of Charleston Foundation. John served two terms as President, both served additional years as Cougar Club Board members and he currently serves on the Foundation Board. John has chaired the highly-successful John Kresse Invitational Golf Tournament every year since its inception. They travel extensively to support Cougar men's and women's teams. They also gave an enduring gift of an endowed permanent scholarship, the John and Dana Tiller Basketball Scholarship.

Brenda Lawson (University of Tennessee at Chattanooga)
Brenda Lawson has a 25-year track record in successful business development from companies with growth substantial enough to attract acquisition by publicly traded companies. As co-founder of two rent-to-own businesses and a deferred presentment business, Mrs. Lawson managed the financial and organizational growth of companies serving 17 states with more than 1,500 employees and revenues exceeding one-hundred million dollars. She is on the UTC Foundation Board of Trustees and the UTC Advisory Board for the College of Business. She was the recipient of the 2004 UTC College of Business Entrepreneurial Honoree. When she was married to Toby McKenzie, the couple gave a "multi-million-dollar" gift to UTC in 2000 that paid off the debt of constructing The McKenzie Arena. In 2005, Mrs. Lawson donated $1.25 million to the UTC Strength and Conditioning building.

Gene Moore III (The Citadel)
A member of baseball and basketball teams, Gene Moore is a 1950 graduate of The Citadel where he majored in political science. Moore graduated from the University of Florida School of Law in 1953. He provided a major gift for the revitalization of Johnson Hagood Stadium during Homecoming on November 9, 2002. He is active in a number of organizations including the Boynton Beach (Fla.) Jaycees, Chamber of Commerce, United Fund, American Cancer Society Fund Drive, Blood Bank Drive, Rotary as well as the Palm Beach County Alpha Tau Omega Alumni Association, Palm Beach County One Hundred Club, Smithsonian Institution, National Audubon Society, Mason Shriners and the Advisory Board of the Palm Beach County Sports Hall of Fame. He has served as city attorney for Boynton Beach, town attorney for Lantana, Fla. and village attorney for Tequesta and served as South Palm Beach County Bar Association president in 1963. He also served as mayor of Boynton Beach from 1989-91.

Robert Vagt (Davidson College)
Davidson College's 16th president, Robert F. Vagt began his tenure as college president on July 1, 1997. He will conclude 10 years at the college at the end of this fiscal year in June. Vagt graduated from Davidson with a psychology degree in 1969 and earned a master's degree in divinity from Duke. Vagt's career has included work as a director of clinical programs in the Northwest Alabama Mental Health Center and as executive director for the Municipal Assistance Corporation for the City of New York from 1979-80. Vagt is very active on campus, particularly at athletic events. From football to field hockey, men's basketball to women's lacrosse, he is one of Davidson's most vocal supporters. That fervor for athletics has also led to numerous improvements to the facilities across the campus. He and his wife, Ruth Anne, have two children: Ashley (Davidson, '95) and Lindsey (Davidson, '01).

Jeanne and Jerry Robertson (Elon University)
Jeanne and Jerry Robertson have actively supported the Elon University Phoenix for 23 consecutive years. The Robertsons contributed a major gift to fund the construction of Dr. Alan and Norma White Field at the Irwin Belk Track complex on the Elon campus in 2002. In 2006, the Robertsons also made a generous gift to Elon's athletics scholarship endowment to name the Alan J. White Bell Tower. They were recognized as the 2004 co-recipients of the Elon Athletics Distinguished Service Award. The Robertsons are also Charter members of the IMPACT (I Make Phoenix Athletics Competitive Today) Circle, the premier giving group of the Phoenix Club. As well as serving on the Elon Board of Trustees since 2003, Jeanne is a nationally renowned professional speaker and humorist. The Robertson's' son, W. Bailey "Beaver" Bowline IV, a 1989 Elon graduate, played basketball for the Phoenix.

Christopher Reid Borch (Furman University)
Christopher Reid Borch has more than 25 years experience of engineering, manufacturing and management experience in the semiconductor industry, including 17 years living and working in Asia. Prior to founding Micro-Mechanics in 1983, Borch held positions with several leading makers of automatic assembly equipment including Kulicke & Soffa, Inc. Borch earned his undergraduate degree from Furman University and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Arthur Howard (Georgia Southern University)
Throughout the years of working in his family business, Howard Lumber Company, Arthur Howard has also kept alive the family tradition of giving. He presented a gift to build a 6,000 square foot golf practice facility which houses coaches' offices, a locker room, a conference room, a team lounge, an indoor putting lab, a club repair area and a computer and study area. Howard is a past recipient of the Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce Business Leader of the Year award. He has served as past president of the Joseph's Home for Boys. He served as a member of the Georgia Southern Foundation from 1994-1999. In November 2006 he was honored by the Bulloch County Commissioners for his 13 years of service as Chairman of the Bulloch County Hospital Authority.

Edwin S. (Jim) Melvin (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)
A charter member of the UNCG Athletics Hall of Fame, Edwin S. (Jim) Melvin is one of the University's "Big Five" donors. A charter member of the Board of Directors of the Spartan Club, he established the Jim Melvin Athletic Scholarship Endowment for the men's or women's golf team. President and Chief Executive Officer of the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation of Greater Greensboro, Inc., Melvin is a 1956 graduate of the University of North Carolina. He served as Mayor of the City of Greensboro from 1971-81 and Greensboro's Municipal Building is named in his honor. He has served on the Board of Visitors at UNC Chapel Hill and Wake Forest University. He also served on the Board of Trustees at UNCG and chaired that Board from 1981-83. He was the initiator of the grassroots drive for UNCG's Division I status. His tenacity succeeded when the Board of Trustees moved the program forward in February 1987.

Tobe Childers (Western Carolina University)
One of the founders of Atlantic Assurance, Tobe Childers played an instrumental role in developing and managing customer relations and overseeing national sales efforts. The company has grown from a small regional firm to one with300 employees, servicing all 50 states with more than $40 million in annual revenue. In 2003, the company was sold to TransUnion Settlement Solutions and Childers continues as Vice president for Strategic Sales. Childers earned his bachelor's degree from Western Carolina University. A former team captain and quarterback, he serves on the Hall of Fame Board and is President of the Catamount Club. He has served on the Board of Governors of the American Financial Services Association at Marquette University. He and his wife, Barbara, reside in Charlotte, N.C.

Elliott Franklin "Eli" Sanders (Wofford)
Elliott Franklin "Eli" Sanders graduated from Wofford College in 1954. He attended the college on a football scholarship and was one of the first lettermen inducted into the college's Athletics Hall of Fame when it was established in the late 1970s. Sanders and his brother founded Sanders Brothers Construction Company in the early 1960s on the principles of hard work, customer satisfaction, quality products and service. Sanders still serves the North Charleston (S.C.)-based company as president and treasurer. He credits his success in business to his educational experiences at Wofford -- both in the classroom and on the playing field. In addition to his consistent and generous annual financial support of scholarships for student-athletes, Sanders has served on the Terrier Club Board of Directors and recently funded the renovation of the first floor of the college's Main Building. He and his wife, Helen Gregory Sanders, have two sons.