Family, friends, and colleagues of the late Dr. Clifton Waldo Paderick gathered at Sampson Community College Tuesday evening with the college’s Board of Trustees and Foundation members to honor the memory of the former college president with a portrait dedication, taking time to remember the man who led the college for 20 years, from 1980 to 2000.
After enjoying refreshments, catching up with Paderick’s wife Hilda, and admiring the portrait of the late president by Carlyle Williams, everyone took their seats as current SCC president Dr. Paul Hutchins welcomed them.
“You can’t walk around this campus and not see the influence of Dr. Clif Paderick,” Hutchins said, noting that although he did not ever know Paderick himself, “from everything I’ve heard, he was devoted and committed to Sampson Community College.”
Hutchins then read a quote by Charles de Gaulle — “Nothing great will ever be achieved without great men, and men are great only if they are determined to be so.”
“I think that’s how Dr. Paderick approached life,” he said, “and I wish I had had the opportunity to know him personally.”
Those who did know Dr. Paderick personally were eager to share their fond memories of the former president.
Calling Paderick “my friend,” Virgina Lucas, SCC vice president of finance, pointed out the many changes and improvements that took place at the college under Paderick’s leadership, listing such things as the addition of several buildings — the W.W. Kitchin Building, the Robert B. Warren Student Center, the Activity Center, the Technology Building and the Vocational Building —, the establishment of the SCC Foundation, the implementation of various academic and occupational programs, workforce development and continuing education, the accreditation of the college, the start of the college offering A.A. and A.S. degrees, and the many grants the college earned through successful competitions.
Previously, in recognition of his strong leadership and distinguished service to the college during his time there, the SCC Board of Trustees bestowed Paderick with the honorary title of President Emeritus.
Lucas remembered Paderick as “a wonderful boss” and “detailed leader,” one who “provided opportunities for advancement” and who “praised us as we made achievements.”
“He provided me with so much encouragement. He often told me how proud he was that I was a graduate of Sampson Community College,” she shared, noting that she worked with Paderick throughout his entire 20 years as the college’s president. “I’m so proud to have had the opportunity to work with him. I will forever cherish his memory.”
Henry Faircloth also came forward to remember Paderick, having worked with the former president on the Board of Trustees and the Foundation board.
“If you look back on Dr. Paderick and when he came, there’s a time and a place for the right person in history,” said Faircloth, explaining how the 1980s were a challenging time for the college. “He was a strong enough person to weather the storm and that’s what the college needed then…He was here during a critical time in the growth of the school.”
“I always had tremendous respect for him,” he continued, highlighting Paderick’s work ethic and his determination to make Sampson Community College one of the best colleges in the nation. “On weekends when I was serving, you’d see his car out front; he was dedicated.”
“Did we disagree? Oh yes we did but we shared the same goal,” noted Faircloth, another former SCC student like Lucas. “He always put the students first. You didn’t see Dr. Paderick a lot in the limelight but you saw his students in the limelight.”
Concluding the ceremony was one of Paderick’s own family — his son Rick — who reminisced about his childhood in Clinton, shared the lessons he learned from his father, and recalled the love his father had for Sampson Community College.
“It was Mayberry,” said Rick of growing up in Clinton, describing how he attended school at College Street and would ride his bike downtown. “It was a great life.”
He credited his father with making that childhood particularly special. “Dad was real active. He taught me how to throw a baseball and catch a football. He involved me in everything and loved to coach me in sports, especially football.”
To the amusement of the group, Rick added that his father also attempted to teach him how to shoot a gun. “He was a terrible shot though and taught me to be just like him.”
He also shared that growing up with a father who was an attorney also made for some interesting outings, like trips to the jail. “He enjoyed people whether it was the guy pumping his gas, the inmate in the jail…and he loved to help people.”
That love of service combined with a love of analyzing, dreaming, organizing, and leading is what made Paderick’s role as SCC president “a dream come true” for his father, Rick said.
“He got the most pleasure out of his students,” he pointed out, recalling how his father particularly loved to see students from tough backgrounds and challenging situations beat the odds and succeed.
“He really loved to cheer on the students and faculty, and he loved to celebrate wins,” Rick noted, telling the group, “thank you for being a part of this celebration.”
Paderick’s portrait will hang in the college’s North Building,
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.