Dr. J. Edward Balthrop ’40 reflects on Spring Hill legacy

Tue, 11/17/2009 - 10:30am
Dr. Edward Balthrop

Compiled by Bridget Balthrop Morton

Dr. J. Edward Balthrop ’40, a retired physician living in Oak Ridge, Tenn., celebrated his 90th birthday on Aug. 12, 2009. His daughter Bridget Balthrop Morton, who interviewed him later that month, said her father persists in his fondness for learning and Spring Hill College. He made it possible for all nine of his children, as well as numerous others, to obtain a college education. A member of the 1830 Society, Balthrop has set up an annuity with the College as the beneficiary.

How did your experience at Spring Hill impact your life?

“From 1929 to 1936, when I graduated from McGill, the world was desolate. I had no expectation of higher education. None. The night we graduated from high school, the superintendent made an announcement from the altar that Spring Hill College was giving a four-year full-tuition scholarship – to me. I had never thought about it, and it came as a complete surprise to me – a very welcome surprise. …

“I was introduced to the concept of social justice at SHC, and I’d say social justice was considered in almost every course I took there. The idea of social justice, of being a Christian who lives a life of moral purpose in the world, was the main part of what SHC gave me. That shaped my life from then on.”

Who at SHC had the greatest influence on you?

“Fr. Clement McNaspy, S.J., taught me Latin, Greek, and I think an English class. He was happy and enthusiastic about knowledge. He was intelligent and willing to share his knowledge on equal terms with anybody who was interested.

“Before we had a final exam in Latin my second year of college, Fr. McNaspy left his door open and a copy in pencil of the exam for the sophomore class in Latin was on his desk. One of the boys went in and found the test, made and gave out copies. There were about 10 boys in the class. Only one other boy and I refused to take a copy of the exam. That test was difficult, and when Fr. McNaspy graded the papers, he called each student in and discussed his grade. Only that one other boy and I had passed. That’s all I ever heard about that. That test was on Horace, and it was hard.”

How did the Balthrops become a legacy family?

“My brothers (Sam and Pascal ’48) could have gone to any college with their athletic ability. But, Spring Hill gave them full scholarships and made college possible for all three of us. … During Mardi Gras that year, Spring Hill College played Auburn, and Spring Hill won by something like 50–23. My brother Sam scored more points in that game than the entire Auburn team. But, Sam left Spring Hill during the war and was killed. Pascal joined the Navy about halfway through college, but he finished at Spring Hill after the war.

“The greatest desire I had was to send my children to Spring Hill College. My oldest child went to SHC but did not graduate. Two of my other children attended and graduated (Kathleen ’76 and Patrick ’79). Several of my nieces and nephews have also gone there, and one of my granddaughters (Anna Claire Flood ’11) attends now.”

For more information on how you can establish a planned gift to benefit Spring Hill College, contact Rinda Mueller at (251) 380-2285 or rmueller@shc.edu.