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Work and gift of the late Jane Ferguson-Clamp established Anderson University Clamp Divinity School
 

 

Jane Ferguson Clamp passed away on April 5, 2020, and with her death, Anderson University lost one of its most special donors in its 109-year history.

At her graveside memorial service, the minister described the 94-year-old as “a person who had a love for the Lord in everything she did.” 

Case in point: Clamp and her late husband, David Clamp, gave more than $8 million to Anderson University to start its graduate programs in ministry and theological studies, one that has helped train a new generation of ministry leaders spreading the Gospel around the world. In their honor, Anderson University established the Clamp Divinity School, a full seminary within the University offering masters, professional doctorates and Ph.D. degrees.

He was so grateful to that minister for preaching the Gospel that God used to save him, he vowed at that early age to put away as much money as he could so that one day he could give it to support the Lord’s work at the local Baptist university – Anderson.

— Evans P. Whitaker, Ph.D.

President & Professor of Management

While Jane Ferguson grew up in Pennsylvania, her late husband, David Clamp, grew up about 15 miles from Anderson University’s campus in Belton, South Carolina. Marrying later in life, the couple settled in Virginia, but they took periodic trips back to his family’s homestead, occasionally dropping by the Anderson University campus.

Dean Woods, former vice president for institutional advancement, recalls the day he and then-president Lee Royce received a phone call from an attorney representing an anonymous donor. The donor wished to offer Anderson University his entire estate upon his death and he had instructed his attorney to inquire of Anderson University if it would be willing to accept a gift that would support graduate ministerial education.

Anderson University didn’t have a seminary or graduate program at the time. All of that would eventually change because of the call. Dr. Royce and Mr. Woods replied to the attorney that the University was grateful to the unnamed donor and it would be honored to receive the future estate gift. They provided the attorney with language for the donor’s will that would accomplish his goals.

Going further back, the donor had come to know Christ in early adulthood through the message of a tent revival preacher in the Upstate. He was so grateful to that minister for preaching the Gospel that God used to save him, he vowed at that early age to put away as much money as he could so that one day he could give it to support the Lord’s work at the local Baptist university – Anderson University.

Meanwhile, Mr. Clamp entered the military. After that, he went on to build his life and career. He attended “night classes” at Pace University in New York City where he obtained a degree is accounting. He secured a job with the United States Civil Aeronautics Board, which regulated U.S. aviation for decades. In the days when loyalty to one’s employer was at its peak, he continued to work there until his retirement.

And, he kept his vow to save as much money as he could. Even though he could have eventually lived in a mansion, he lived a good but modest lifestyle while fastidiously investing in blue chip stocks. Perhaps his only extravagance was buying his parents a home in his native Belton. David, himself, never owned a home of his own.

Among Mr. Clamp’s co-workers in the auditing division was Jane Ferguson, yet the two would only know one another in passing, and for years had no idea they would eventually become husband and wife. Years later as senior adults, and after a respectable time following Jane’s first husband’s death, David and Jane came to know one another and developed a friendship that eventually led to their marriage. They retired to Waynesburg, Virginia and became very active members of First Baptist Church. They were joined as next-door neighbors by Jane’s sister, Ruth Swisher, and her husband, David.

Shortly after their move to Waynesburg, the attorney again contacted the University, this time to say that the donor was ready to reveal his identity to the University and wanted to have a more specific conversation with the president about how his future gift would be used. By that time, Dr. Royce was president of Mississippi College, and Dr. Evans Whitaker had just been appointed as president of Anderson University.

Shortly, Dr. Whitaker and Mr. Woods traveled to Waynesburg to meet Mr. and Mrs. Clamp for the first time. It was during that visit that Mr. Clamp clarified his wishes for how the money was to be used. They also learned the extraordinary nature and spirit of Jane Clamp. Unconcerned for her future, she gave David her total support in leaving his entire estate to Anderson University. President Whitaker and Mr. Woods were astonished by her loyalty to the extent that she did not intend to make a claim to any part of her husband’s estate. With retirement savings of her own, she was content to see David’s dream come true.

Jane Clamp is the best example we can hold up to our students for what a spouse should be.

— Mrs. Diane Whitaker

First Lady of Anderson University

Not wishing for Mr. Woods and the new president to go back home to South Carolina with only a promise of a future gift, Mr. and Mrs. Clamp gave the two a check for $100,000 to assist with the construction of Thrift Library, as well as their six-year-old Cadillac that was part of AU’s motor pool for several years.

In the ensuing years, Mr. Woods and President and Mrs.Whitaker took turns visiting the Clamps, sharing meals with them and keeping them updated on the University they had both come to love. Mr. Clamp eventually was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and the two moved from their home to a retirement village in nearby Stuarts Draft. Mr. Clamp lived in a group home for Alzheimer’s patients, while Mrs. Clamp lived a few doors away in an apartment. Mrs. Clamp would often go out the back door of her apartment to smell the confections baking at the huge Little Debbie bakery. But most of the time, she would visit David, each and every day, feeding him and talking to him long after he could understand all she was saying.

While observing how devoted Jane was to David during his most difficult months, Mrs. (Diane) Whitaker said of her, “Jane Clamp is the best example we can hold up to our students for what a spouse should be.”

Upon his death a few years later, Mr. Clamp’s dream became a reality. Clamp’s attorney and his wife transferred the entire estate valued at more than $8 million to establish a graduate school of Christian ministry that would eventually be named the David Clamp School of Divinity and referred to as Clamp Divinity School. It was Jane Clamp who ultimately implemented the contribution of the $8 million to the Anderson University College of Christian Studies.

Jane Clamp received an honorary Doctor of Humanities from AU in 2009, along with her husband, also honored posthumously with an honorary doctorate.

Mrs. Clamp was a member of the Toastmistresses and the Waynesboro, Virginia Women’s Club. She was a registered parliamentarian and a volunteer with the Augusta Free Clinic.

In addition to supporting the training of professional ministers through Clamp Divinity School, Mrs. Clamp supported local ministry at the First Baptist Church in Waynesboro and First Baptist Church in Staunton, Virginia. The minister giving her eulogy said Mrs. Clamp always made sure the Habitat for Humanity volunteers had money for ice cream. 

“She was just a sweetheart of a lady,” the minister said. She loved the simplest things in life and was always happy. Her choice of “Jesus Loves Me” as her favorite song is a window into the soul of this remarkable selfless woman who shepherded her husband’s gift to AU after his death.

President Whitaker, speaking of Mrs. Clamp after her death, said, “Mrs. Clamp always insisted we call her ‘Jane,’and I always insisted she call me Evans. Dean Woods and my wife and I would take turns visiting the Clamps. It was always pure joy sharing a visit and a lunch or dinner with them. Their hearts were so innocent. They consistently prioritized others over themselves. They lifted our spirits then, and they will continue to lift the spirits and lives of those who will benefit from their extraordinary generosity. They lived great lives in light of their Savior’s great love. Jane will be greatly missed and never replaced. She’s one of a kind.”

In addition to the Clamp Divinity School, AU’s women’s residence, Jane Ferguson Clamp Hall, is named in her sweet memory. Mr. Clamp’s Bible was given to the University and is on display in the President’s Office. Mrs. Clamp’s sister, Ruth, and husband, David, continue to live in Staunton, Virginia, and stay in touch with the Whitakers and Woods, who is now president of the Foothills Community Foundation in Anderson.