Pierce Cline's philanthropic spirit and passion for education are imprinted all across the campus of Oxford College.
He played a significant part in many of the college's ventures, including founding its Board of Counselors, planning the expansion of the college, searching for a new dean, establish a music scholarship program and funding the building of its Cline Tennis Center.
For all those and many more efforts, Cline, 85, received the college's lifetime achievement award, the R. Carl Chandler Award, named for the College's first board chairman, who also served on Emory University's Board of Trustees and gave money to restore historic Old Chapel in Oxford.
Marvlyn Kirk, with the college's alumni department, said Cline's family connections and support of Oxford College go back to the late 1800s, including the Rev. Earl Cline, Pierce's father, who served as a "honorary grandfather" to his alma mater's students.
"Pierce has carried this torch forward and has always been one of Oxford College's greatest advocates, counselors, benefactors and leaders. He is an Oxford icon and most worthy choice for the Chandler Award," Kirk said.
Though in declining health, Cline managed to attend the Sept. 27 ceremony with his wife Margie, and granddaughter Elysse Lewandowski.
"(I've) had a long, healthy adventurous life. I am most grateful and have few regrets. Oxford College and education have been a magnificent part of my life," Cline wrote in his remarks. "(The) receipt of the Carl Chandler Award is a lifetime achievement and I am deeply honored."
Close friend Rob Fowler III presented the award and called Cline the "consummate path finder and mentor to me."
"I talked about Pierce in many different ways, from a nomad and wanderer of the earth, a visionary of what can be, a tribal elder and even an eccentric," Fowler said.
The two traveled around the world to hike, including the mountainous country of Nepal, Hadrian's Wall in England and the Appalachian Trail.
During a trip to St. Bart's in the Virgin Islands, Fowler had a fall that required 18 stitches in his face. He said it was after the fall that Cline helped Fowler understand the meaning of life.
"Leading, loving, helping, imagining the impossible and dreaming."
Fowler praised Cline's vision in finding the future location of Georgia Perimeter College's Covington campus, off Ga. Highway 11. Cline is often seen as GPC's biggest supporter locally.
Cline also supported Project Adventure, which was an education program for troubled teens. Fowler said the program saved many children's lives while it was open in Newton County.
Finally, Cline's real estate development company, Cline Properties and Development, was responsible for several neighborhoods in the region, including River Cove Meadows near Social Circle, where he lives now.
"There were people who said, ‘Why should we do this or that?'" Fowler said. "Pierce would said, ‘Why not?'"