Grover Wrenn arrived on the campus of then-Florida Presbyterian College in 1960 as one of 154 founding members. He didn't have much money. He was just a "country boy from North Carolina," by his own description.
He volunteered for John F. Kennedy's campaign in St. Petersburg. He got married at the end of his freshman year and had two kids by the time he was a junior.
Times were difficult — finding housing every year, working summers to help the family and pay for schooling.
After three years he had to transfer closer to home at Clemson University. On Friday, the school that is now Eckerd College announced that Wrenn had donated $1-million to the institution.
He's come a long way. So has the college. The gift arrives as the school is embarking on its $80-million capital campaign. Wrenn's donation will be matched by the Miles Collier Challenge and will amount to $2-million.
Wrenn's gift is the largest single donation by any alumnus of the college.
"Besides my parents, probably nothing has had a greater impact on my life as the time I spent at Florida Presbyterian College," said Wrenn, who is vice chairman of the school's board of trustees.
Wrenn, 66, went on to become an entrepreneur who started the company Environ Corp., an international consulting firm that deals with environmental and human health works.
Wrenn takes it in stride.
"I'm just one of thousands of students whose lives have been transformed by a small residential college with a faculty and staff that is committed to not only the roles of teaching, but mentoring," he said.
Austin Bogues can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8872.