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Distinguished Alumnus Award:
William T. Cassels, Jr. '51

Cassels
William T. Cassels, Jr. '51

A South Carolina reporter chronicling Bill Cassels' lifetime of achievements called him "the complete Southern Gentleman." Truer words were never written -- a complete gentleman -- always working hard to better himself and the lives of those around him devoting unending passion to family, church, business, and community. And doing it all with thoughtful directive and careful allocation, making sure those people most important to him always come first.

Bill Cassels has always ordered and balanced his priorities. From a young age, he grew up working summers in South Carolina, ultimately laboring on the trucking docks for his father. He would marry his grade school sweetheart, Katherine Charlotte Rustin, whom he met when he was twelve. He entered Davidson College as a high school scholar-athlete from Columbia. While at Davidson he majored in economics, edited Quips and Cranks, headed the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity as its president and was inducted into the ODK honor society. During his subsequent service as a Lieutenant in the United States Army, he volunteered for combat duty in Korea, where his courage and valor earned him the Bronze Star. After military service, Bill returned to his hometown and dove headlong into his business, Southeastern Freight Lines. Under his steady guidance the company grew from a $40 million business to a half-a-billion dollar a year enterprise. Meanwhile, he instilled in his company those values he honed at Davidson creating what he described as a "culture of caring," which has allowed Southeastern to have one of the lowest employee turnover rates in the industry. In 1985 he pioneered processes emphasizing service earning Southeastern over 180 quality awards from customers and industry associations for the company's unparalleled excellence in customer service. A leader in the trucking industry for many years, he was recently inducted into the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame.

Amidst his remarkable business achievements, he remained a devoted husband to wife, Charlotte and committed father of two children, Kathy and Tobin; he volunteered at his church, Eastminster Presbyterian, as a Sunday School teacher and elder; he helped his community as a Boy Scout leader and Rotary Club president; and he supported the mission of institutions of higher learning like Presbyterian College, Queens College, and, of course, Davidson. Along the way he has been recognized numerous times for his self-effacing support of countless charities.

Because you epitomize the whole person with your intelligence, work ethic, service to community, and your strong relationship with God and family; because you are a complete Southern Gentleman: hard-working and high-minded yet humble, generous and spiritual, and devoted to family and God; because you have absorbed much out of life and given much back, making opportunities for yourself and others; in short, because you have, in every sense, lived up to your faith by living your life completely; your alma mater is proud to have you as one of its finest sons, and Davidson College recognizes you, William T. Cassels, Jr., on the occasion of your fiftieth reunion, as the 2001 recipient of the Alumni Association's Distinguished Alumnus Award.

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