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Jack Averitt remembered

Funeral held today at 11 a.m.

    Scholar. Teacher. Mentor. Developer. Musician. Historian. Rotarian. Friend.
    Jack Averitt was known by many names and he carried many titles, but to all people in the Statesboro community who knew him, he was an outstanding gentleman.    
    Jack Nelson Averitt, 85, passed away early Sunday. A lifelong resident of Statesboro, he was a member of the Statesboro First Baptist Church for 66 years, where he served as a deacon, Sunday School teacher, organist, choir director and soloist.
    Dean emeritus of the Jack N. Averitt College of Graduate Studies and professor emeritus of history, he served Georgia Southern University for 35 years. He was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the first stand-alone doctoral program - a doctorate in education - when he submitted his proposal in 1970. Basically shelved by the Board of Regents, his vision didn't see fruition until 1992.
    Bobby Smith, a former professor of finance and economics at GSU, is a longtime friend. He, like many others, began his relationship with Averitt as a student. Smith said he will always remember Averitt as a gentleman with impeccable character.
    "He had a brilliant mind and a dedication to the improving of the lives of others through his teaching," said Smith. "Through his assistance in their gaining knowledge and information about life, Jack will have an impact, on not only this community, but places around the world - in the students he helped and taught. He will long be remembered."
    Mike Kennedy was a student of Averitt's in the 1960s and later became a supplier of building materials for some of his projects. He said he was a man of many talents and wearer of many hats.
    "I took a number of classes under Jack," said Kennedy. "He was a wonderful professor, he made history alive to those of us that were fortunate enough to be in his classroom. He carried an enormous amount of information about history in his head - not only about the world - but also about the Bulloch County area. He was an enormously talented individual musically. He could make a speech at the drop of a hat and make it fun and interesting."
    Averitt was also well-known in Statesboro business affairs, having developed, with good friend William Powell, the Woodlawn Subdivision. Also, to say Averitt was passionate about Rotary is an understatement. Not only did he serve as president of the local Rotary Club, he also served a term as district governor. As Kennedy put it, "You would talk to him and, within three or four paragraphs, he was talking about something involving Rotary."
    The real capstone of Averitt's Rotary career is when Rotary International presented him with the Distinguished Service Award, one of five at the time in the Rotary world, for his endeavors in international service. This was to recognize his leadership in academics as well as his civic and cultural pursuits at the community, state, national and international levels.
    Kirbylene Stephens first knew Dr. Averitt as a student in his history class. After graduation, she worked in the president's office for 32 years, where her life interacted with his for many years.
    "Jack Averitt was an outstanding American, Georgian and Bulloch County resident. He was also an outstanding contributor to GSU as an alumnus, faculty, dean and supporter," said Stephens. "Statesboro has lost a pillar of the community and a person who cannot be equaled. I have lost a wonderful friend."
    GSU President Bruce Grube released a statement from the university.
    "The Georgia Southern University community is saddened by the death of Dr. Jack Averitt."
    "Dr. Averitt was not only an alumnus, but a loyal friend of GSU for many decades. He joined the history faculty in 1945 and was founding dean of what is today known as the Jack N. Averitt College of Graduate Studies. He and his late wife Addie later endowed the Jack N. and Addie Averitt Lecture Series that continues to support programs in both the history and literature and philosophy departments."
    "His devotion and dedication to this institution were unparalleled, and he will certainly be missed."
    The funeral service for Jack Averitt will be held today at 11 a.m. in the chapel of Hodges-Moore Funeral Home with the Rev. Bruce Shortell and Dr. Delma E. Presley officiating. Burial will be in Eastside Cemetery.
    Pallbearers will be William A. Powell, Albert Burke, Ric Mandes, W.R. (Bobby) Smith, Clay Beaver, Aubry Highsmith, Mike Kennedy, Dr. Alex Chew and Dr. Charles Hardy.

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