On May 11, Dr. Deitemeyer, president of Central Piedmont, conferred the college's first honorary degree to Mr. Wilton L. Parr, during the college's 2 p.m., commencement ceremony.
Mr. Parr received an Honorary Associate Degree in Arts in recognition of his long-time engagement as a Central Piedmont student, volunteer, and donor.
A native of Danville, Virginia, Wilton L. Parr graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute (now Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University) in 1951 with a bachelor of science degree in engineering. In 1967, he moved to Charlotte to begin a long, distinguished career in senior leadership positions with Piedmont Natural Gas. He and his wife Mary raised their two sons in Charlotte and continue to reside here.
Upon retiring from the company at the age of 65, Mr. Parr began a second career as a student at Central Piedmont Community College. Over the span of 12 years, he enrolled in more than 100 courses. All these courses were in arts and humanities disciplines, ranging from English
literature to studio arts courses. Through this process of ongoing education, he became an accomplished painter and sculptor. He is the personification and embodiment of the term "lifelong learner." In addition to taking classes, Mr. Parr volunteered as a tutor and mentor to students in the college's adult literacy program.
As a student and volunteer, Mr. Parr developed a lasting appreciation for the quality of Central Piedmont's range of academic offerings and classroom instruction and its importance to the Charlotte community. This appreciation is underscored by his remarkable generosity to the college over the past 25 years, which includes support for faculty, instruction, and programming in the arts and sciences, as well as scholarships. This remarkable record of philanthropy has been acknowledged with the naming of prominent college facilities in honor of Wilton and Mary Parr. He stands as the largest individual benefactor in college history. The transformational impact of his philanthropy cannot be overstated.