Georgia Southern Loyal

It took 20 long years to build the Great Pyramid of Giza, but a mere two decades is nothing compared to the 46-year record of Georgia Southern’s most dedicated givers.

William “Buddy” Rabitsch, Mike Kennedy, Paul Akins and Warren “Spike” Jones are members of an elite group of donors to the University Foundation who have given every year since 1972 – 46 years.

Buddy Rabitsch came to Georgia Southern on Jan. 1, 1973, as associate controller. He was later promoted to controller and served the University until his retirement in 1998. He’s been contributing since his earliest days at Georgia Southern.

“At first, I made most of my contributions to the Controller’s office to help out with items that state money could not be used for,” said Rabitsch. “Then, in later years, I also contributed to the Center for Wildlife Education and to the Botanical Garden because of their impact not only on Statesboro and Bulloch County, but also on the entire region,” he added.

Though a 25-year employee, Rabitsch actually began his association with the University well before his work here. “I was a member of the freshman class of 1955,” he said. “It was Georgia Teachers College when I completed my B.S. and Georgia Southern when I received my MBA. Through the years, I’ve seen the school experience amazing growth, especially in the number of students enrolled and the number and kinds of programs offered.

“During the Blue Tide era and even much later, it would have been almost impossible to imagine that the college would one day be a university with more than 27,000 students on three separate campuses,” he said.

Rabitsch and his wife Sandra, a retired University English assistant professor, continue to reside in Bulloch County.

Paul Akins, a Georgia Tech grad, and his wife, Jo, founded the Paul S. Akins Company in 1968 and have built the Statesboro-based firm into a multifaceted regional construction enterprise. Akins was instrumental in the startup of what grew into the University’s construction management program by giving their time to teach students in the program’s early days. He says he is a firm believer in the value of long-term giving, and set aside funds to support the University through good years and lean.

Longtime donor Mike Kennedy is a 1962 University alumnus and head of Kennedy Industries, a masonry manufacturing company producing concrete block, pavers, mortar, bulk sand and stone. He and his wife, Verdery, established the Mike and Verdery Kennedy Strings and Choral Performance Scholarship in honor of their mothers, Ellen Kennedy and Verdery Boyd, both of whom had a passion for strings and choral music. Verdery is a former Georgia Southern professor.

Warren Jones served as a professor of psychology and dean of the then, School of Arts and Sciences at Georgia Southern for 21 years. He arrived at Georgia Southern in 1972 after serving at Stetson University and the University of Louisville. He and his wife, Donna, a retired University English professor, have supported a number of campus endeavors over the years, especially the Georgia Southern Museum and the Garden. In 2014, friends and former colleagues honored Jones when they established the Warren. F. “Spike” Jones Endowment to provide scholarships to students in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

— David Thompson