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Founders Day celebration planned

September 9, 2008

Robin W. Edwards, Ruth S. Kearns and the late Harold J. Riddle will be honored during Coastal Carolina University's annual Founders Day celebration on Monday, Sept. 22 in Wheelwright Auditorium at 7 p.m. Members of the Class of 1954-1955, the year the University was founded, will also be recognized. The event is free and open to the public.

Prior to the ceremony, the University will officially dedicate and rename University Hall as Bill Baxley Hall at 4:30 p.m. Baxley is a retired Coastal Carolina University professor and administrator.

The Founders Day Convocation is an annual event that honors individuals and organizations that have been instrumental in the development of the University as well as of higher education in the region.

Edwards was born and raised in Horry County and graduated from Conway High School in 1955. She attended Limestone College and the College of William and Mary. With her late husband Thomas W. Edwards, she contributed the establishing gift to build the University's humanities and fine arts building, which was named the Thomas W. and Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts in 2001.

Robin Edwards' involvement with Coastal Carolina University includes serving as a charter member of the Board of Visitors for the Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts; as a member of Women and Philanthropy, an organization that provides scholarships for deserving students at the University; and as a member of the Coastal Educational Foundation, the fundraising organization of the University.

Edwards is an organizer and board member of Coastal Carolina Bancshares Inc., the holding company for Coastal Carolina National Bank, a community bank in Myrtle Beach. She has been active with the Grand Strand Auxiliary, the parent organization for the volunteer staff of Grand Strand Regional Medical Center; Friends of Brookgreen Gardens; and the Huntington Society of Brookgreen Gardens.

Edwards has one daughter, Robin Edwards Russell, who is a professor in the Department of Theatre at Coastal Carolina University and is married to David Russell, video producer for the University. She has four grandchildren: Temperance Davin Thomas Russell and triplets James Edwards Foster Russell, Mary Miranda Todd Russell and Grainger Lee Williams Russell, all of Myrtle Beach; two stepsons, Richard Thomas Edwards and Frank Oliver Edwards; and two step grandchildren, Thomas Allen Edwards and Lauren Elizabeth Edwards.

Kearns graduated from Myrtle Beach High School and attended Coastal Carolina College, then a two-year junior college affiliated with the University of South Carolina. She earned a bachelor's degree and an M.B.A. from USC and went on to complete post-graduate work at Ohio State University and the University of Texas. Kearns was in the banking industry for 38 years, originally with Coastal Federal Bank, where she was senior vice president and community relations officer.

During her banking career, she worked on community projects including the Financial Literacy Program in Horry County Schools, which provided educational materials to public schools for all students kindergarten age through the fifth grade level. She retired from BB&T Bank in 2008 and is now pursuing a career in the technology industry as sales and marketing director with Eastern Data Inc. She was appointed to the Horry County Higher Education Commission in 1985, where she continues to serve.

Kearns is also involved with Coastal Carolina University's Alumni Association, and she was named the first Alumna of the Year in 1989.

Riddle was born in Lakeland, Fla. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army Air Force in the Pacific Theater. He was educated at Clemson University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in architecture in 1949. He practiced architecture in Myrtle Beach from 1953 until his retirement in 1984, principally with the firm of Harold J. Riddle, AIA, which later changed to Riddle and Wilkes.

Many of the buildings on the campus of Coastal Carolina University were designed by Riddle, including the Edward M. Singleton Building, Atheneum Hall, the Williams-Brice Arena, the Lib Jackson Student Center and Wheelwright Auditorium. Riddle also designed many public school buildings throughout Horry County.

Riddle was one of the most prolific architects in the Myrtle Beach area, designing dozens of buildings, homes, churches and hotels. Some of his outstanding designs include the Rivoli Theatre, the original Myrtle Beach Convention Center, The Dunes Golf and Country Club, the octagonal Bay Tree Club House and the Ocean Drive Theatre.

Riddle was a member of the Myrtle Beach Planning and Zoning Board and the First Presbyterian Church. He died in 1991.