GMC News

2006 Alumni Award Recipients

Alumni Weekend 2006: “Remember and Reunite”

(Milledgeville, GA) October 23, 2006 – Georgia Military College alumni and friends met October 20 and 21 to celebrate Alumni Weekend 2006. One of the highlights of the weekend was the honoring of a select group of individuals with Georgia Military College Alumni Awards. The recipients of these prestigious awards are selected annually from submitted nominations.
This year’s award recipients are: Senator Ralph Hudgens (Distinguished Alumnus Award), Dr. George Echols (Alumni Achievement Award), Dr. Chris J. Cawley (Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award), MG Peter J. Boylan (GMC Honorary Alumnus Award), Mr. Parnell Ruark (GMC Service Award) and COL Lovett LaFayette Briggs (Community Service Award). These six extraordinary people, selected from among a record number of nominations for the 2006 awards, are representative of the fine character and countless acts of excellence displayed by the alumni and friends of Georgia Military College. GMC is fortunate to have been a part of the lives of each of these fine people. The contributions of the 2006 Alumni Award recipients have, without a doubt, made the world a better place.

Distinguished Alumnus Award
Senator Ralph Hudgens
HS 1960

The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes alumni whose lives have embodied the ideals of Georgia Military College including discipline, moral character, and learning, whose accomplishments have made a conspicuous and positive impression on those who will follow their lead, and whose lives are examples of extraordinary accomplishment.

Senator Ralph Hudgens, Senate District 47, graduated from high school at Georgia Military College in Milledgeville and then received a B.S. in Agriculture from the University of Florida. For eighteen years he worked for the Agricultural Chemical Division of Shell Chemical Company. In 1983, he founded Quality Propane, Inc. which he sold in 1987. Currently, he is President of Hudgens Enterprises, Inc., an investment company with holdings in real estate.

Senator Hudgens, a former political appointee in the first Bush administration, was the State Representative for the 24th District from 1996-2002. In 2002, he was elected as the State Senator for the 47th District, where he serves as Chairman of the Insurance and Labor Committee, Vice Chairman of Agriculture, Secretary of Banking, and Secretary of Natural Resources. He also serves on Reapportionment and Redistricting, and is Ex-Officio on Retirement.

Senator Hudgens married the former Suzanne Morgan in 1963 and they have four children and ten grandchildren. He is a member of the Madison County Rotary Club, Madison County Chamber of Commerce, Madison County Farm Bureau, National Rifle Association and Prince Avenue Baptist Church.

Alumni Achievement Award
Dr. George L. Echols
HS 1948, JC 1950

The Alumni Achievement Award is designated for an alumnus who has attained notable success in his chosen field or profession, and whose achievement might serve as an inspiration to anyone considering entering that chosen field or profession, or might serve as inspiration to anyone to excel in his chosen field or profession because of the example set by the recipient of this award.

Dr. Echols attended GMC from first grade through junior college. After graduating from Emory University with a Bachelor of Arts degree, he entered the military as an infantry officer during the Korean War. He served for three years as a weapons instructor. “GMC prepared me well for my future career, and gave me essential military training, “George said. His career path took a significant turn when he entered the Medical College of Georgia for his doctorate in medicine, followed by a 45-year career practicing medicine.

Dr. Echols’ career as a pediatrician began as an intern in Ashville, North Carolina. He later returned to Milledgeville to practice for five years and then returned to Augusta, Georgia for additional training. There he established a thriving private practice. He served as chairman of pediatrics at University and St. Joseph’s hospitals and was appointed Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the Medical College of Georgia.

He and his wife, Polly, returned to Milledgeville in 1991 where he served as a medical director at Central State Hospital. After retirement he continued to work with children and adolescents. He is a recipient of the President’s Award from the Medical College of Georgia and a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society Medical Society. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Diplomate of the American Board of Pediatrics.

George, at home in Milledgeville, is very active in community affairs, particularly those involving GMC. He has served as president of the GMC Alumni Association, as a trustee and Executive Committee member of the GMC Foundation, and as the chairperson for GMC’s Annual Giving Campaign for 2004 –2005. He loves gardening, travel, and music, but we here know him best for his love of GMC, evidenced by his unfailing support and allegiance to accomplishing the school’s mission.

Outstanding Recent Alumnus Award
Dr. Chris J. Cawley
HS 1993

The Outstanding Recent Alumni award recognizes alumni who, having completed their studies at GMC within the past fifteen years, have demonstrated excellence in academics or in their chosen professions, or who have made great strides in their personal life, and who show promise of continuing excellence.

Chris started his journey to become a physician when he committed himself to that calling in high school. He began then to prepare accordingly, knowing that he had to build his work ethic and mental toughness to withstand that journey.

He tells of himself that he learned at an early age perseverance and determination were an integral part of every facet of life. “Whether in the classroom or on the football field, I found that if I always performed to the best of my ability, I would always be satisfied with my end result.”

That life rule has stood Chris in good stead through high school, college and into his medical career. During his years at GMC, he was the Delta CO commander – Sabre Company, in the National Honor Society, Beta Club, and received several awards and recognitions, including being given the MacArthur Award and being selected in his senior year as “Best All Around.” and “Most Athletic.” At Georgia College and State University (GC&SU) Chris was in both the Gamma Beta Phi and the Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Societies and was the Outstanding Departmental Major, Biology. He received the Ty Cobb Educational Scholarship for several years at Mercer, where he entered Medical School in 2000. Chris was awarded a Doctor of Medicine degree from Mercer University in May of 2005 and is now doing his residency in pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of the Medical Center of Central Georgia.

Chris is married to the former Courtney Collins (GMC HS 1995) and is the proud father of two boys, Chandler and Kip. Even with all the professional and personal time commitments, Chris is also active in his community, currently serving as a preschool worker at Ingleside Baptist Church and has been a mentor for the Hephzibah Children’s Home as well as doing other volunteer work in his community.

Honorary Alumnus Award
MG Peter J. Boylan, USA (Ret.)

The Honorary Alumni Award is bestowed upon individuals who are not alumni of Georgia Military College, but who have rendered special or exceptional service to the school or to its Alumni Association, and who, by virtue of their service, are worthy of the designation of GMC Alumnus and all that the designation entails.

MG Peter Boylan was appointed the 20th President of Georgia Military College in 1992 following his retirement from the military. Under his leadership GMC has continued to weave its place into the fabric of Milledgeville Baldwin County, and the state of Georgia. His tenure at this institution has been marked by a focus on character building as an integral part of education.

MG Boylan brought with him the experience and wisdom gained from an illustrious and decorated career with the United States Army, including assignments at the U.S. Military Academy, with the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, as commander of the 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum, New York, and as Deputy – The Inspector General of the Army. He holds multiple academic degrees as well, including a doctorate of law.

During his years at GMC, the school has witnessed the accomplishments of many milestones and continues its journey toward MG Boylan’s vision to be the best so as to produce the best: the best student, the best citizen, the best leader.

Some key accomplishments include GMC’s expanded presence in the state of Georgia, with new extension centers and a new DLC campus at Fort Benning in Columbus. On the main campus in Milledgeville, the transformation of the spirit of the school took physical form with the renovation of the Sibley-Cone Library; construction of Parham Hall and Zell Miller Hall, a much-needed academic building housing classrooms and biology, chemistry, and computer labs; and the complete restoration of the jewel in the center of campus and the city of Milledgeville, the Old Capitol Building and its historic parade ground, Grant Parade.

MG Boylan did not stop there. The vision was just underway. The second New Academic Building became realized last year, connected with Zell Miller Hall by a magnificent atrium, an area of opportunity for student interaction. Within its walls is the Goldstein Center for the Performing Arts, classrooms, labs and much needed faculty offices, as well as the student cafeteria.

On the playing field, emerged the first “real” ball fields – Craig Field for baseball, Couch Field for softball, and the Horace Ray Field House. In addition, the Parnell Ruark Athletic Complex, a modern athletic facility with offices, weight room, and classrooms for the physical education and athletic programs at GMC.

MG Boylan is now working on a new phase with the construction of the James E. Baugh Barracks, its dedication and opening just a few short months away. With this shift in location from Vinson Hall and Main Barracks, the path is cleared for the new Preparatory School to sit opposite the restored Grant Parade. Ultimately, the school’s Master Plan has “blueprints” to connect the school to new football stadium facilities nearer the river and to the Oconee Greenway along the river itself.

For MG Boylan, he considers his greatest achievement to be that of his family -his wife, Kathy, a partner in the truest sense, with a spirit of kindness, encouragement and support, and his five children (Peter, Terri, Heather, Greg, and Emily) and their spouses, and 12 grandchildren.

As for his GMC family, we are proud of his many accomplishments – particularly, his perseverance for change and respect for the history and essence of the institution in its continued quest to provide excellent education and instill values. MG Peter Boylan is a leader and visionary – someone we are proud to know, respect, and claim as an honorary alumnus.

GMC Service Award
Mr. Parnell Ruark
HS 1942, JC 1949

The GMC Service Award is designated for an alumnus or friend of Georgia Military College who has rendered special service to the school or to any of its ancillary organizations including the GMC Alumni Association, the Bulldog Club, the Booster Club, or the GMC Foundation, Inc.

Parnell Ruark came to GMC as a cadet in 1941 and graduated HS in 1942. After a few years in the Naval Reserves, Parnell returned to GMC in 1947 as a WWII veteran, resuming his civilian life. He played JC football for GMC in 1947 & 1948 and in 1948 was the first JC All American east of the Mississippi to be so recognized.

1948 saw another significant event in Parnell’s life – he got married on April 11, 1948 to his wife, Lynette. In his own words, “She was with me the rest of the way – college, minor league baseball, coaching and teaching for the next 42 years.”

After graduating from GMC, Parnell chose a different path however, spurning a scholarship to play for Frank Howard at Clemson University in order to embark on a professional baseball career that spanned 6 years in the minor league system in Georgia. As life is prone to do, it circled and led Parnell back to GMC. During his coaching career here, Parnell was involved in both football and baseball, with 1960 seeing him chosen as the 1960 HS Football Coach of the Year, and the JC Baseball Team winning the State Championship. In 1969 he was the president of the Junior College Athletic Association.

Coach Ruark, as almost everyone thinks and speaks of him, is still a resident of Milledgeville and still an active and dedicated alumnus of GMC. His service to the school includes financial support in the form of a legacy benefiting the athletic program and enabling our athletic facility to be named in his honor. He attends most of the school’s functions – always, always carrying the school’s message that his GMC experience gave him the foundation upon which to build a successful life – “pretty much!” And he shared that belief with all those whose lives he touched. Bo Whaley, one of his former teammates and players, said, “A lot of youngsters are better men today for having been under the guidance of a man like Parnell Ruark.”

Community Service Award
COL Lovett LaFayette Briggs
Awarded Posthumously
HS 1949, JC 1951

The Community Service Award is given to Georgia Military College alumni who through leadership, inspiration, teamwork, or hard work in the spirit of volunteerism or in their professional activities, have taken the lessons of GMC’s Character Education beyond the classroom and whose actions are characterized by a history of exemplary service resulting in unquestionable improvements within their community.

COL Briggs was a native of Thunderbolt, Georgia and a graduate of Emory University. He served first in the Navy, then the Army, for thirty-three years of combined service including World War II, Korea, and two tours in Vietnam. In 1944 he enlisted in the Navy. After leaving the Navy, he moved to Milledgeville and joined the Corps of Cadets in 1949. Upon graduation in 1951, he returned to the military, this time in the US Army. In 1956 he was sent to Vietnam and then returned on a second tour in 1968 as a public relations officer. He retired as a full colonel and returned once again to Milledgeville.

COL Briggs’ many services to the community included Briggs Realty, Deacon and Sunday School Teacher at First Presbyterian Church, and President of American Legion Post #6. He served on the GMC Alumni Board, was a member of the Learning in Retirement Writing and Book Club, and a member of the Kiwanis Club. He remained an active military reservist. Lovett and Mary organized a group of former GMC, Peabody High School, and Georgia State College for Women alumni who meet faithfully as “Friends of Yesteryear.” Just before Lovett became ill, he was working on an idea for a Public Relations Committee for the GMC Alumni Association.

Always busy, always dedicated to his projects, Lovett will be missed but always remembered.