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Outstanding Alumni Honored During Founders Day

Founders Day 2024 Awardees
Three outstanding alumni recognized during Founders Day 2024, from left, are Alexander Dean Lewis, Dr. James Rudy Gray and W. Keith Roberts.

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Anderson University recognized the accomplishments of three outstanding graduates during Founders Day February 21 at Anderson University. Lewis, Gray and Roberts were recognized during the Founders Day Chapel in the Henderson Auditorium of the Rainey Fine Arts Center and also the Founders Day Awards Luncheon in the G. Ross Anderson Jr. Student Center banquet hall. 

Alumni Service Award

Dr. Rudy Gray has been named the 2024 recipient of the Anderson University Alumni Service Award. This award is presented to alumni for their outstanding and unselfish service to their alma mater, community and to humanity.

Dr. Gray, a 1973 alumnus, is a retired pastor who has served several Southern Baptist churches. He also served as editor of The Baptist Courier.

While a student at Anderson, Dr. Gray pursued his passion for journalism. He was editor of the school newspaper, sports editor of the yearbook and a sportswriter for the Anderson Independent, the local daily newspaper. His career path seemed set until God answered a prayer and called him to vocational ministry. 

Dr. Gray answered that call, and after completing advanced degrees, he became senior pastor at four churches in South Carolina: Unity Baptist (Starr), First Baptist (Central), Roebuck Baptist (Roebuck), and Utica Baptist (Seneca), where he completed 18 years of service.

During his pastoral years, Dr. Gray was active in the South Carolina Baptist Convention, including a term as president in 2009. His final service for the Convention, though, would bring him back to his love of journalism when he was elected editor and president of The Baptist Courier.

Dr. Gray is serving on the Anderson University Board of Trust and is an adjunct professor in the College of Christian Studies. He also is a columnist, certified counselor and author of seven books. He is married to Anne Black Gray. They have three daughters, all Anderson alums, and four grandchildren.

Alumni Achievement Award

Keith Roberts has been named the 2024 recipient of the Anderson University Alumni Achievement Award. This award is presented to an alumnus for his/her significant achievements in his/her professional career.

A 1984 graduate, Roberts is Principal and Division Leader for World Insurance Associates, LLC. He was born and raised in Anderson, the proud son of Russell and Cleo Roberts. His father highly valued education; and Keith and his two brothers, Brad and Timmy, would all become Anderson alumni.

Following his days at Anderson in the early 1980s, Roberts went on to complete a degree in business administration from USC Upstate. He then began working in the textile industry; however, he would soon find his way to a lasting career in the insurance business.

In 1999 Roberts joined Palmetto Insurance, a local agency in Anderson, and learned the business well under the mentorship of David Walker. Eventually, he would purchase the business in 2013 and continue to serve the local community (and Anderson University) for many years. During that time, the agency majorly expanded their profitability. In 2020, Roberts sold Palmetto Insurance to World Insurance and joined the new group as the Division Leader for their Southeast operations.

Anderson University has benefited over the years from its association with Palmetto Insurance, now World Insurance, as this group has served not only as the University’s agency, but it has also been a major supporter of athletic and student endeavors here on campus.

Roberts wed the former Kyra Free in 1991, and they have three children: daughters Audrey Roberts and Grace Moore and son Jesse Roberts. They are members of NewSpring Church in Anderson.

Distinguished Young Alumnus Award

Alex Lewis has been named the 2024 recipient of the Anderson University Distinguished Young Alumnus Award. This award is presented to an alumnus no older than 40 who exemplifies in his/her life the educational philosophy of Anderson University. 

A 2012 Anderson graduate, Lewis is Wealth Advisor and Owner, Blackbridge Financial. He earned degrees in accounting and financial economics. Lewis entered the financial services industry in 2010 while a student at Anderson and has continued to achieve greater success as a wealth advisor in the state of South Carolina since that time.

Lewis previously held positions with Anderson Federal Credit Union, CapinCrouse LLP, and BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina before joining Blackbridge Financial in 2016. He has now been managing the team in Columbia since 2020. He has earned the following designations: Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Financial Planner (CFP), and Certified Exit Planning Advisor (CEPA).

In the past several years, Lewis has garnered significant recognition for his outstanding work in the field. In 2021 he was ranked number 267 on the Forbes Top Next-Gen Wealth Advisor list. In 2022 he was named a Breakout Advisor of the Year by the Independent Advisor Alliance. In 2023, Lewis claimed spot number 21 on the list of Forbes Best In-State Wealth Advisors.

Lewis is married to fellow Trojan Carrie Settle Lewis and they have two young children. They worship at Riverland Hills Baptist Church, where he is a deacon and member of the finance committee—thus lending his professional skills to further Kingdom work and aligning with his life goal to be remembered foremost as a servant of Jesus Christ.

Founders Day Chapel

About Founders Day

Established in 1929 by then-president Dr. Annie Dove Denmark, Founders Day was created to honor the visionary Anderson area leaders whose desire for a college in Anderson and generous support led to the establishment of what is now Anderson University. Founders Day is a premier event that honors Anderson’s great heritage while anticipating a bright future.

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