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AU News

AU to Dedicate Statue of South Carolina Native/American Statesman

September 17, 2015

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Anderson University will dedicate a new sculpture on campus Thursday, Sept. 24 at 4 pm honoring a South Carolina native and great American statesman, philanthropist, and advisor to six presidents from Woodrow Wilson to John F. Kennedy.

The bronze sculpture of Bernard Mannes Baruch is a gift to Anderson University from the late John Rainey, who commissioned it not long before he passed away last spring, and his wife Anne Edens Rainey.  The larger Rainey family, including Robert Rainey, Nancy Crowley, and Mary Belser, along with their late parents, has been a valuable partner with AU in adorning the already beautiful campus with original artwork in the form of sculptures. It was the Raineys who commissioned the stunning sculpture by renowned artist Marc Mellon that is the centerpiece of the fountain in front of The Thrift Library on campus.

The bronze likeness of Baruch sits in a plaza in one of three park benches across the street from the Rainey Fine Arts Center and the South Carolina School of the Arts.  It was cast by Maria Kirby-Smith of Camden.

Bernard Baruch was born in Camden, South Carolina on August 19, 1870 to Jewish immigrant Dr. Simon and Isabelle Baruch.  His early years were spent in Camden, the city that he claimed as his home all his life, although his family moved to New York when he was ten.

At age fourteen, Baruch entered the College of the City of New York where he excelled at economics and languages. After college he worked various jobs, eventually becoming a Wall Street broker. In 1897, he married Annie Griffen of New York. As Baruch amassed a fortune, he also became a philanthropist. Extremely modest about his good deeds, he insisted that his charitable endeavors be shared by all races and religions. In his native Camden, his gift to help establish the Camden Hospital in 1913 was given with the condition that the hospital provide an adequate number of beds for black patients.

Baruch was an independent thinker whose opinions were not determined by political partisanship. Advisor to six presidents, Baruch’s opinion was sought by Wilson, Hoover Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, and Kennedy. Baruch influenced national policy and international negotiations from World War I through World War II and into the Cold War era. Because he often sat on park benches in New York’s Central Park and Washington, D.C.’s Lafayette Park to converse with citizens about the affairs of the day, he earned the sobriquet “the Park Bench Statesman.” He died in 1965 at age ninety-four and is buried in Flushing Cemetery in Queens, New York.

“John Rainey was passionate about nurturing the cause of racial reconciliation in his native South Carolina,” said Dr. Evans Whitaker, president of the university.  “He was a key source of support to Anderson University as we have made diversity a major priority in our strategic plan.  He chose Bernard Baruch because he is one of South Carolina’s most noted early leaders of racial reconciliation.  He felt that students would benefit and be inspired by the subtle visual reminder of Baruch’s leadership and his example.  Later this fall, we will dedicate another bronze statue on campus of an African American South Carolinian provided by the Rainey Family.  These gifts are going to be an invaluable source of inspiration to our campus and the Upstate,” he added.

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