Current BSC students lead the guests in “Amazing Grace” at the conclusion of the program.
Bainbridge State College paid tribute to its founding President, Dr. Edward Mobley, and the legacy he left on the College and the entire community.
The service was held Monday at the Charles H. Kirbo auditorium—where seats were filled with former and current students, retired and current faculty and staff, along with Mobley’s widow, Martha Mobley; and daughter, Laurel Mobley; elected officials and other community leaders.
A prelude of Mobley’s favorite compositions was played while a procession of BSC faculty and students made their way down the aisles to the front of the stage.
In 1972, Dr. Edward Mobley came to Bainbridge—having just completed a stint as the Academic Dean at present day Dalton State College, and a post graduate fellowship at Harvard University. He had a dream— it was a dream to “build a college in the middle of a swamp.”
“Together with our institution’s other founders—he built a college because of his vision and hard work,” said Dr. Richard Carvajal, BSC President. “And literally thousands of lives have been changed, and continue to be changed for the better. To say that he accomplished much would not even begin to describe this amazing life lived.”
Mobley’s impact on the College and community were highlighted in the memories shared by representatives and friends from the Bainbridge British Brass Band, Bainbridge Little Theatre, City of Bainbridge, BSC Alumni, BSC Student Government Association, charter and current faculty.
Joe Livingston represented the Bainbridge British Brass Band and commented on how difficult it was to say enough about Mobley in three to five minutes for the service. He retold stories of the times he had with Mobley while playing with the band.
After retelling segments of the many stories and memories, he said, “Ed was a man of peace and wonderment. He was a man who had a thirst for knowledge and he was on a quest for goodness and kindness. His heart belongs to Martha, and his soul to the Heavens—but his spirit will always be with Bainbridge.”
Thaddeus Nifong, a BSC adjunct instructor and friend, shared with guests the many contributions Mobley made to the Bainbridge Little Theatre and the arts in the community.
According to Nifong, Mobley was the percussionist in over 25 BLT musicals—and this is where their friendship began.
“He saw the need for teaching and inspiring young people in the area about theatre, so they could obtain the experience to become involved with BLT,” he said. “If it were not for Dr. Mobley, our community may not have a community theatre at all.
He had the vision, wisdom and courage to see that this community needed the important outlet to encourage growth of the arts and to teach others how important the arts are—not only for individuals, but for the community at large. I’m very lucky to have known Dr. Mobley not only as my boss, my mentor, my fellow theatre enthusiast—but most especially, as my friend.”
On behalf of the City of Bainbridge, Mayor Edward Reynolds stated in recognition and remembrance of Dr. Mobley, a tree would be planted on the BSC campus as part of the “Planting for the Future” campaign.
“He made a long lasting educational impact on the people of Southwest Georgia and because of that, we at the City would like to dedicate and give one of these oaks to be planted on the College grounds in honor of Dr. Ed Mobley. This oak will continue to grow and be part of this college just as the education of the students he supported,” said Reynolds.
Bill Burke represented the BSC alumni and retold stories of Mobley from a student’s point of view. Burke stated he met Mobley about 42 years ago, while he was a senior in high school.
He said, “Dr. Mobley was the first college president I had ever met, so I was a bit intimidated by him. I took a Music Appreciation course taught by Dr. Mobley—and little did I know it was a course that would stay with me throughout my life.”
Burke found an appreciation of the Classics and attributes this love for music to Mobley’s passion for music.
“He introduced me to styles and genres that I had never been exposed to before. Every day I thank Dr. Mobley for introducing me to those genres of music,” concluded Burke.
On behalf of the current students at BSC, many of whom never had the opportunity to meet and get to know Mobley, Student Government Association (SGA) President, DeWayne Gurley thanked the College for meeting his needs as a student—and the role Mobley played in it.
He said, “If I would have had the opportunity to talk to Dr. Mobley, I would have told him how thankful I am that he created a place where students like me could have access to a quality education. The College gives opportunities to so many students and the community. We, the students at Bainbridge State, are proud to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Mobley and the dream he had so many years ago.”
Charter faculty member, Dr. Ray Chambers spoke on the early days of Bainbridge State College.
He stated that during the early days the faculty would travel around the area telling people about the opportunities at the College. Mobley was always there with them spreading the news and advertising the Bainbridge Junior College.
According to Chambers, Mobley was able to get people excited about a college in Southwest Georgia.
“Ed enjoyed working with faculty and the staff at the College. He loved them,” he said. “He would sometimes ask them to do what they considered impossible tasks, but they did it because they loved him too. He was so good and so encouraging.”
Dr. Jenny Harper, a current faculty member, had a different experience with Mobley since her father was a charter faculty member. She grew up with the college and Mobley’s influence.
She said, “Dr. Mobley has often been referred to as a Renaissance man—a man of many talents and wide interests. As the President, he was more concerned with the students’ success than any other issues. Not only did he leave a legacy of excellence at this institution but in our community as well. I will always remember Ed as being loving and compassionate—and contributing significantly to the long term improvements of Southwest Georgia.”
After the remembrances, Carvajal made two announcements to immortalize the contributions made by Dr. Edward Mobley.
Each year, the President of BSC has the privilege of celebrating the Most Outstanding students from each class, and according to Carvajal, it is only fitting to name these awards in honor of Dr. Mobley.
At this year’s Honors Night, the first-ever Dr. Edward Mobley President’s Awards will be awarded to deserving students.
Carvajal said, “Dr. Mobley loved his founding faculty and staff. He loved the first students and he loved the initial group of community supporters who fought to make this college a reality. The fingerprints of all these founders are still here—and all of their contributions need to be honored as well.”
It was then that the President declared the Founders Day at Bainbridge State College be held the first Monday following the opening week of fall semester each year.
He concluded with, “May all future generations find cause to pause on that day to remember—as we have here today—that the foundation on which our institution is laid was built—literally risen out of the ground—by a special group of faculty, staff, students, administrators and community supporters who should never be forgotten.”
The program closed with the singing of “Amazing Grace,” one of Mobley’s favorite songs, led by students.