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Appalachian Alumni Association Presents Outstanding Service Awards

050801osagroup1_dl.jpgby Jane Nicholoson

BOONE–Thomas E. Chandler, John and Faye Cooper and Marie Furches hail from across the South.

Their career paths have taken them in different directions, but they have one thing in common. The four are champions of Appalachian State University’s needs and causes and have been recognized for their advocacy.

They are the 2001 recipients of the Appalachian Alumni Association’s Outstanding Service Award and were honored during the alumni association’s annual Spring Fling Awards Banquet held Friday, May 4, at the Broyhill Inn and Conference Center.

Chandler has given countless hours of his leadership to the university and its fundraising efforts.

The Burlington resident is a member of the board of directors on the Appalachian State University Foundation. He has been a member of the foundation since 1990 and has served on several foundation committees.

Chandler became accounted with Appalachian and the Boone area when his oldest son visited and later attended the university. A daughter also graduated from Appalachian.

His real love for the university developed after the UNC Board of Governors appointed him to Appalachian’s Board of Trustees in 1987. He served on the board for eight years, including a two-year term as chairman. “Immediately we became a part of the university family. Thus began a real love for Appalachian and this area of North Carolina,” Chandler said.

Chandler said one of his most challenging and rewarding experiences was chairing the search committee that selected the current chancellor, Francis T. Borkowski.

“When I was in college I had a more active social life than academic life,” Chandler said. “However as I entered the real world of business, I saw the advantage of having a good academic background. By supporting Appalachian State University you make a real difference for the young adults of today who will be our leaders of tomorrow. It has been important for me to give of my time and talent to this university to help make it a strong place to carry out its mission and to challenge the youth of tomorrow to even greater heights.”

Chandler, a Knoxville, Tenn., native, graduated from Lynchburg College in Virginia and worked for Wachovia Bank in High Point before joining the concrete block division of Boren Clay Products as a sales representative and manager. In 1973, he purchased R.F. Kirkpatrick and Sons and in 1974 became president of the company, now Chandler Concrete Co.

The Coopers moved to Watauga County from Florida in 1980 when they purchased the Mast General Store. They soon became involved in the community and with the university by attending sporting events, cultural programs and sharing their insight through committees and activities. They helped spearhead a corporate scholarship program for An Appalachian Summer Festival. They established the Mast Store Endowed Scholarship for Business, have supported the Yosef Club, and been guest lecturers in the Walker College of Business and the School of Music.

Faye Cooper has served on the Appalachian State University Foundation Board of Directors, the Appalachian Summer Festival Advisory Board and the Chancellor’s Residence Committee.

John Cooper has been active on the Walker College of Business Advisory Council.

“It’s easy to say yes when you admire and respect those doing the asking,” Faye Cooper said of the many university members with whom the couple has worked. She said their volunteer work with the university has given them more experiences, memories and growth opportunities than they can ever repay.

“We have been blessed in our personal lives and in our business by the presence of Appalachian,” John Cooper said. Cooper listed the university’s sports programs, diverse cultural activities, academics, economic impact and the area’s quality work workforce, which includes Appalachian students and alumni, as “blessings.”

“But most importantly, we count as our blessing the wonderful friendships we have formed through our relationship with the university,” he said.

Furches said she took to heart the advice offered by a speaker during her graduation ceremony from Appalachian in 1980. “The speaker made a point that has stayed with me all these years,” Furches said. “She said give back to your university, and I guess I took that to heart.” Furches said that one statement guided her future with Appalachian State University.

Furches explained her continuing involvement with Appalachian. “I do not want to get to the end of my life and realize that a student has been denied an opportunity for a higher education because he or she could not afford it,” she said. “I do not want to get to the end of my life and realize that a talented young athlete has been denied an opportunity to play sports because a scholarship was not available…that a student has been denied an opportunity to study abroad because funding for the program has been cut…that a student could not reap the benefits or his or her education because the labs are inadequately equipped.”

Furches has served on the university’s alumni council since 1991, including a term as council president. She has been a member of the Yosef Advisory Board since 1997. Furches has served on the university’s NCAA Division I Feasibility Study Committee, McKinney Alumni Center fundraising committee and the Centennial Campaign Feasibility Study committee. She is active with Alumni Council reunions and other university activities.

Furches teaches English at North Forsyth High School in Winston-Salem.


Picture Caption: The 2001 recipients of the Outstanding Service Award at Appalachian State University are Marie Furches, left, John and Faye Cooper, and Thomas E. Chandler. The university’s alumni association presents the award each spring. (Appalachian photo by University Photographer Mike Rominger)