Veda Nell Bagwell Sprouse and North Greenville College, for more than a quarter-century, have been linked together in a bond of learning. The relationship began in 1943 when she arrived on campus to begin her college career.
A high point in her years of teaching English and literature took place on Honors and Awards Day, May 2, 1979, when President George Silver presented her with the first Faculty Achievement Award for outstanding educational achievement and the years of exceptional service at North Greenville.
Veda, as he is called by her friends, made her debut into life in southern Greenville County and completed her high school years in Laurens County in the Harmony community near Fountain Inn.
It may be gratifying to some of the students who have sat in her classes to know she was a typical country girl getting into some of the “fads” of her day. “Choppin’ cotton?” Maybe! Not if she could get her two older brothers to do it. Smoking “rabbit tobacco?” She remembers her first try at the “weed!”
When she was about four, her brother took her to a “spot” out of sight of the house. He sat on a rock; so did she. Taking out his homemade corncob pipe, he stuffed it and lit up. He took a few draws and passed it along to Veda. Perched on her rock, she puffed away. Her world began to spin. Was she a sick little girl! That ended her smoking days. Can you imagine that!
From Fountain Inn High School, she came to North Greenville College in 1943. Her parents, John Edward and Dora Thompson Bagwell, and her brothers, Duard and Waymon, 15 and 13 years her senior, provide the support she needed. “I had three fathers,” she said (referring to her father and brothers), “to look after me, protect me, and encourage me in the role I had chosen for my life.”
At North Greenville she entered the English class of Miss Harlee Cooper, who became a cherished friend and ideal. “Miss Cooper made an indelible impression on my life,” she said. Many who have known them both agree and submit that as long as Veda Sprouse is alive, Miss Cooper continues to live. Like Miss Cooper, Veda is soft spoken and dainty. She is precise but not prissy, quiet ut not bashful, intelligent but never a know-it-all.
An NGC honor graduate in 1945 with the associate degree, she received the Bachelor of Arts at Black Mountain College and the Master of Arts at Duke University. She has done further graduate work at Winthrop.
Veda began her teaching career in the Georgetown County schools in 1948. Returning to the foothills she taught English in Travelers Rest High School for four years. After a year in the Lexington County Schools, she returned to the North Greenville campus in 1955 after an absence of ten years.
A young man in a Clemson military uniform caught her eye and captured her heart. Veda and Eugene B. Sprouse were married on June 20, 1952.
She has continued her role of teaching English, British, and American literature at NGC with the exception of two years at Greenville Technical College. She served as advisor of the Aurora and the E.Q.V. Literacy Society for several years. She has been chairperson of the Humanities Division for the past three years and presently is chairperson of the Special Academic Programs.
A country girl, Veda learned her subject well and teaches it effectively. Her commitment to Christ and her church is deep and genuine. She has put her faith into practice both in and out of the classroom. She requires much of herself. Many of her former students have returned to express their gratitude for her firmness in classwork and her Christian witness in the classroom, the “thought for the day” and prayer time. Both have had tremendous effects on the life and work of many. She give God the glory.
Eugene and Veda have lived in Greenville for the past 24 years. They are loyal member of Sans Souci Baptist Church where she teaches the Joy Sunday School Class.
We of the alumni family say “Congratulations!” and wish for Veda many more years of committed and effective teaching.
Article published in the October 1979 issue of the North Greenville College Alumni Newsletter.