Consolidated hearts

Spence and Sheila Hoynes Pay it Forward 

spence and sheila hoynes standing in front of a tree covered with spanish moss in front of Burnett Hall on Armstrong Campus
EVERYONE IS A WINNER: Spency Hoynes took Sheila to a Georgia Southern-Armstrong basketball game in Savannah for their first date more than 40 years ago.

Spence and Sheila Hoynes, who have been married for more than 45 years, are united by a desire to help current and future students thrive at Georgia Southern University’s campuses in Statesboro, Savannah and Hinesville.

Sheila, a Statesboro native who earned a B.S.Ed. from Georgia Southern in 1971 and an M.Ed. from Armstrong State College in 1975, enjoyed a 30-year career as a beloved first-grade teacher in Conyers, Georgia. Over the years, she served as president of the Georgia Southern Alumni Association, a charter member of the College of Education’s Board of Advisors, a member of the Athletic Foundation Board of Directors and the founder and president of the Eagle Club in Conyers.

Like a flame, Sheila’s passion for Georgia Southern burns bright, undimmed by the passage of time. “The years I was at Georgia Southern were the best years of my life,” she raves. “I studied, went to classes and was active in my sorority. I had a great life.”

A dedicated member of Zeta Tau Alpha sorority at Georgia Southern, Sheila was “very involved socially on campus,” in addition to developing her skills as an educator and working at the library. She fondly remembers her first date with Spence, who was a recent graduate of Armstrong State College, when he took her to a Georgia Southern-Armstrong basketball game in Savannah.

Spence, who completed a B.B.A. in Management and Marketing at Armstrong in 1970, retired after serving as the assistant commissioner of the Georgia Department of Labor in Atlanta. During his tenure with the Department of Labor, he served on several joint federal and state committees within the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Employment and Training Administration.

At Armstrong, Spence was involved with the Phi Kappa Theta fraternity, the Armstrong Masquers theater troupe and the Student Government Association. He credits Armstrong with giving him the tools to succeed in his career long after graduation and has continued to support the university over the years, including service as president of the Armstrong Alumni Association Board of Directors.

“I feel like I was very fortunate to have the education and the opportunities I had at Armstrong,” he says. “My education served me very well. I feel a responsibility to give back.”

During Sheila’s tenure as president of the Georgia Southern University Alumni Association, Spence drove her to and from alumni events across Georgia and beyond. His devotion to Sheila even caught the attention of former Georgia Southern President Bruce Grube, who named Spence an honorary Georgia Southern alumnus in 2002 in recognition of his support.

“To be able to represent alumni, I went to as many events as possible and visited Eagle Clubs across the region and in Washington, D.C.,” Sheila recalls. “President Grube was so impressed by Spence’s support of me and of Georgia Southern.”

Sheila and Spence, who currently divide their time between Lake Oconee and Savannah, are hopeful that the recent consolidation will benefit students.

“The important thing is that the students at all three campuses get a positive academic and social experience in order for the consolidation to be successful,” Spence explains. “I believe students at the new Georgia Southern have an exciting future ahead.”

In addition to contributing to Georgia Southern and Armstrong through their leadership and service, Sheila and Spence are proud to offer financial support as well. Together, they made annual gifts to both universities for many years, but this committed couple wanted to do more. Ultimately, they chose deferred giving, including their alma maters in their wills. A planned gift to Georgia Southern will establish the Spence and Sheila Garvin Hoynes Endowed Scholarships, supporting education majors as well as student-athletes.

These dedicated alumni, who have season tickets to Georgia Southern football and basketball games, were thrilled when their son, Jason, graduated from Georgia Southern and hope their granddaughter, Annabelle, will continue the family tradition.

Sheila and Spence share a powerful commitment to helping students enjoy the exceptional education and leadership opportunities they experienced at Georgia Southern and Armstrong. They also know that learning doesn’t stop at the classroom door.

“We want every student to experience that college is more than an education,” says Sheila. “It’s about learning about who you are. We want to support students and hope they will want to give back as well.”

For Spence and Sheila, the opportunity to help today’s students succeed is extremely rewarding. They particularly enjoy the opportunity to meet scholarship recipients in person and to learn how scholarships are impacting their lives and helping to make their dreams come true.

“By supporting Georgia Southern,” Sheila explains, “we’re helping young people get an education and become tomorrow’s world leaders.”