Parmer Scholar March Newsletter 2015News from the Parmer Scholar Foundation


The annual meeting of all Parmer Scholars and the Board of
Directors of the Parmer Scholar Foundation will be held at 1pm April 25, 2015
at Camellia Bakery. The Bakery is located in the 100 block of West Commerce
Street. Since the bakery is not open on
Saturday please eat before the meeting.

Two other events will be held in Greenville the weekend of
April 24 - 26:
“Putting on the Ritz” at the Ritz Theatre April
23 – 25.
Butler County Historical & Genealogical
Society quarterly meeting at
City Hall – April 26 at 2 pm.
And the High Horse Gallery is a wonderful place
to visit.

Please make your plans to attend this fifth reunion. We need a large turnout. You will enjoy meeting and sharing
experiences with fellow scholars.


Contributions Received $13,610.00
Income 584.54
Receipts 14,194.54
Expenses 667.48
Sub-Total 13,527.06
Less: Contribution to W. O. Parmer Trurst
Gain for 2014 $ 9,527.06

2014 was an excellent year.
Contributions increased 39.3% compared to 2013. A big thank you to the 35 contributors. The average contribution was $388. If the remaining 300 plus Parmer Scholars
gave an average of $100 we could raise another $30,000 per year.

AGENTA – APRIL 25, 2015

Discussion of Financial results
W. O. Parmer Trust Contribution for 2015 – Decision
Discussion as to investment of assets
Selection of officers and board of directors

Please note that several of us have served on the board
and/or officers since the inception of the foundation. The experience has been very rewarding and
does not require a lot of time. We would
welcome your participation as an officer and/or board member.


To date during 2015 PSF has received $1200.00 contributions. Please mail your contributions to:
Parmer Scholar Foundation, Inc., P. O. Box 823, Greenville, AL 36037. Please
note the change of P. O. Box number from 777 to 823. Due to the increase of
box rental rate this change was made.



Leland H. Burgess, Jr .from Evergreen was awarded the Parmer
Scholarship to attend Vanderbilt University beginning September 1960. After completing his freshman year he
transferred to the University of Alabama where he continued participation in
the reserve officers training corp (ROTC).
His father was a Clemson University graduate and served in World War II
from the North Africa campaign to Italy, to France to Germany. Military service came quite naturally to
young Leland Burgess.

Being interested in obtaining a private pilot license,
Burgess jointed the ROTC Flight Training Program at the University of Alabama at
the end of his junior year (1964). He
completed his undergraduate degree in May 1965 and was commissioned a Second
Lieutenant. After completing Army
Artillery Officer Basic Training at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma during February 1966,
Burgess entered primary helicopter school at Ft. Walters, Texas. This was followed by advanced helicopter
training at Ft. Rucker, Alabama and upon completion assignment to the Third
Squadron 4th Cavalry, 25th Infantry Division in Vietnam
during July 1967.

From July through December 1967 Burgess was able to adjust to
wartime conditions by flying light observation helicopters. The objective of these missions was to locate
the enemy and direct heavier ordnance upon the targets. Even though his training had been excellent,
he quickly realized actual warfare was quite different than simulated
exercises. During 1967 he came under
fire for the first time. In his own
words “I could see the tracers coming – that’s when it finally dawned on me
that there were people down there aiming at me and they were trying to kill
me. It’s really hard to simulate
that”. 1968 in Vietnam began with the
Tet Offensive. During late February 1968
his helicopter and crew were shot down in the middle of a Viet Cong base
camp. They were about 10 to 12 feet off
the ground when the crash landing began.
Burgess was shot in his upper right arm which shattered about three
inches of bone. His crew chief was shot
through a knee which was shattered and he was left unconscious. His gunner was not hurt but they were
surrounded by the enemy. Fortunately,
they were spotted by an airborne pilot who provided fire cover. They were able to escape into an old
abandoned rice field after establishing a perimeter of fire, they awaited
rescue by helicopter. Burgess stated “I
thought that day I was going to be one of those that somebody was going to
knock on my parents’ door and I was very much concerned about how my mother was
going to take that.” Thanks to excellent
training and support from fellow pilots they survived. As a captain, Burgess was awarded the silver star,
distinguished flying cross, bronze star, legion of merit, purple heart and
Vietnamese cross.

The Vietnam War was a very divisive period in American
History. Colonel Burgess was very proud
of his family history of military service.
He was any only child and could have sought a deferment from combat but
he chose to honor his commitment to his country. Colonel Burgess died February 16, 2013 in his
early seventies. He was a true patriot.


Walter R. Parmer, Chairman


Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring 2013 Newsletter

Please make your plans to attend our fifth reunion April 27, 2013 in Greenville. We will meet in the Parish Hall of St. Thomas Episcopal Church at 1 p.m. The church is located at 210 Church Street. Several of us will meet for lunch prior to the meeting at Bates House of Turkey, Exit 130 off Interstate 65 at 11 a.m. Please join us and enjoy the fellowship.

After the meeting at St. Thomas we will tour the restored Pioneer Cemetery which is within easy walking distance of the church. There is no charge for attending the reunion except your travel cost. Below are listed two other events in Greenville April 25-28, 2013 which are very entertaining. You should consider staying overnight in one of the national chain motels. The Holiday Inn Express is the newest motel.


The Greenville Area Arts Council is conducting its annual performance of Putting on the Ritz April 25, 26, 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the beautifully restored Ritz Theater. The production is performed by local artist in costumes of Broadway quality. Each performance is a sell out. If you want to attend, order your tickets in advance by contacting:  Greenville Area Arts Council, P. O. Box 825, Greenville, AL 36037 – or you can purchase tickets at the following location in Greenville. The Pineapple or McFerrin’s Jewelry The Facebook address is: - cost of tickets: $20.00


This meeting will be held at “Ellafair”, the historic home of Janis Odom, located at 3561 Manningham Road, Greenville at 2 p.m. Sunday April 28, 2013. This will be an excellent opportunity to learn more about the Pioneer families of Butler and surrounding counties. Janis will share the history of Ellafair and the Odom family. Other families to include the Waller, Hutchinson, Cheatham, Tillery, Whittle and Peavy will be discussed. There is no charge for this event, wear comfortable attire and shoes.


The agenda for the board meeting includes the selection of a board of directors and officers for the next three years. Please consider serving and becoming a candidate in advance of the meeting. We need five (5) officers and three (3) directors representing each University – Alabama, Auburn and Vanderbilt. The duties are not very demanding of your time but they are very important. The other agenda item is a
discussion of the financial progress of the foundation. Since its inception during 2009, the Parmer Scholar Foundation has contributed $4,000 to the W.O. Parmer Trust. The PSF has current assets of more than $64,000 with no liabilities. During the above meeting a motion will be made to contribute an additional $3,500 to the W.O. Parmer Trust by May 15, 2013. Since the PSF was founded, Parmer Scholars have contributed $7,500 directly to the original trust and another $10,000 to the Pioneer Cemetery Preservation. The Pioneer Cemetery is the burial site of Walter O. Parmer.

With the publishing of each newsletter we attempt to share the life story of an outstanding Parmer Scholar. In this issue we share the life story of James Irby Barganier. James Irby, like most Parmer Scholars, was an excellent student and leader at Lowndes County High School, Fort Deposit, Alabama. He was selected to attend Auburn University in 1964 and continued his outstanding efforts despite having to return home for two years due to his father’s untimely death. Upon graduating in 1971 with a Bachelor of Architecture Degree James was prepared to begin his long anticipated career as an architect.

When asked to provide information about the impact of the Parmer scholarship on his life, he responded with the following:

I would have gone to college to be an architect, one way or the other. I realized as a 5 year old that was the career that I wanted to have and drew house plans from then on. What the Parmer Scholarship allowed me to do was have the complete college experience, campus extra curricular activities belonging to a fraternity, summer study such as Leadership School at North Western, enough money to have the proper materials and equipment to do better projects in Architecture – without the Parmer Scholarship all this time would have been spent on a job. Auburn University gave me the “knowledge” to practice architecture W. O. Parmer gave me the “tools” to be successful.

After graduation in 1971, I moved to Montgomery, Alabama and worked for the 3 required apprentice years with two different architectural firms; Pearson Title and Narrows, and Blondheim Williams and Chancey. As an apprentice I was fortunate enough to pass all the registration exams on the first try and hung my shingle out in June of 1974 as a Registered Architect, doing mostly residential remodeling jobs. Another lucky happening helped me along. My wife, Jane, and I had spent the first year of marriage remodeling a small 1920’s Bungalow in the Garden District, doing most of the work ourselves. Sometimes during 1973 a Southern Living photographer saw it on the way to buy film, rang the doorbell and asked to take some pictures. The first day I was in business for myself, I was working out of our Guest Room, I went to get the mail and the Southern Living magazine had an article in it featuring our house. So far the phone hasn’t stopped ringing.

The firm now known as Barganier Davis Sims has 4 partners, 25-30 employees, and is a Southeast USA regional full service Architecture, Interior Design, and Planning Firm, based in Montgomery, Alabama. I am registered to practice in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas and have National (NCARB) –Registration. Clients include Federal, State and Local governments, churches, schools and universities, both public and private, banks, private developers as well as individual home owners. Barganier Davis Sims Architects has won Design Awards over past 35 years and has been published in books and magazines. Among the firms Projects are:

Alabama Supreme Court Building, Montgomery
The Montgomery Museum
Frank M. Johnson, Federal Court House in Montgomery
Montgomery Country Club
4,000 Student Dorm For Sias Univ. in Zhengzhou, China (Hunan Province)
New Saint James School Campus, Montgomery
Vero Beach Museum, Vero Beach, FL
A Number of Episcopal Churches in Texas, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi Readiness Center For Joint Forces Headquarters at Gunter Air Force Base, Montgomery A New Master Plan for the University of South Alabama Facilities to house the USA Colleges of Nursing, Allied Health, Engineering and Computer Science, and a new BSL-3 Lab Building and a 150’ tall Bell Tower and Alumni Plaza. Numerous facilities for other Universities including Auburn, the University of Alabama, Troy and UAB Headquarters and studios for Alabama Public T.V. Numerous projects over past 30 yrs. For the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind, in Tulladega, AL Many Custom Homes thoughout southeast U.S.A.
Civic Involvement Includes: City of Montgomery Architectural Review Board – Board Member 25 years, Past Chairman Montgomery American Institute of Architects (AIA) – Past President and former AIA Council Member Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts – Former Board Member Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce – Former Board Member Montgomery Committee of 100 – Member Saint James School Board – Past President Brentwood Children’s Home – Former Trustee
Married for 42 years to the former Jane Jordan from Montgomery, belonging to Saint John’s Episcopal Church. 3 Children: William Micou Jordan Barganier – 4/22/1974, Alice Ware Barganier McCollum – 4/7/1977, and James Strawn Gardner Barganier – 7/1/1985
Hobbies: Gardening, reading, Historical Preservation, our family place at Perdido Bay, collecting coins, silver and old post cards. Travel: China, France, Italy (for pleasure and to study Italian Renassiance & Andrea Palladio Architecture) Greece, Turkey, Mexico, Germany, England, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, several Greek Islands, Bahamas, Bermuda and about ½ of the United States. Languages: Speak only very Southern English. I am constantly thankful for the experiences, both educational and life, that the W. O. Parmer Scholarship helped provide for me and I commend those who have brought this foundation into existence.

During the 4 ½ years that I have worked on the Parmer Scholar Foundation, I have shared experiences with many of you in person or via telephone/email. We share a common bond and we have developed a core support group of more than 100 Parmer Scholars. Expanding this core group of supporters has been somewhat frustrating. If you are among the nearly 300 Parmer Scholars that have not supported the PSF to date, please consider how the scholarship impacted your life. A yearly contribution of $25.00 or more is affordable and will provide an opportunity for a college education for a deserving student. Again, please join us for the fifth reunion and consider becoming an Officer/Director of the PSF. You will gain more than you give.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Parmer Scholar Story: Robert W. Dees

Parmer Scholar Story
Written by Edie Dees, daughter of Robert W. Dees

My father Bob Dees was in the first group of recipients of the scholarship in 1936.  He was very grateful to have received the scholarship because he would not otherwise have been able to go to college.  He made good use of the opportunity, graduating from Auburn University in 1940 with a B.S. in Civil Engineering.  He enlisted in the Army Corp of Engineers but when war broke out, transferred to the Air Corps.  As a pilot, he completed 31 combat missions over Germany and France and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. 

After the war, he spent a year with the Alabama Department of Aeronautics as an airport engineer but decided to return to the Air Force as a career in 1947.  While on leave from his assignment at the Pentagon, he married Edith Steen in December of that year. 
In 1950, he obtained an M.S. in Civil Engineering from Georgia Tech and drove to San Francisco with his wife and young son expecting to be stationed in Japan.  The Korean War intervened and he found himself designing and building airfields in that country while Edith and Robert Jr. returned to Alabama. 

In 1956, the family (which now included me) moved to Southern California where Bob worked on the Titan Weapon System, ultimately rising to become the chief of that program.  In 1962, the family moved east to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  Bob worked in contract management for three years, which allowed him to make high-level contacts with defense contractors all over the country.

Bob’s last three years with the Air Force were back in Southern California, working on the Manned Orbital Laboratory program.  Upon retirement as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1967, he parlayed one of his earlier professional relationships into a position with TRW, a major defense contractor.  He remained with that firm until his second retirement in 1982.

Bob passed away last year at the age of 89.  His education at Auburn not only made possible his distinguished career, it also ignited in him an intense curiosity about his country and the world.  He treasured the opportunity to be a pilot because it let him get a look at the landscape from above.  When my brother and I were children, he liked to take us on road trips across the country.  Once we were off on our own, he and my mother traveled extensively overseas.  I often observed that his favorite reading material seemed to be a map. 

My father was also a very kind man, which I imagine also had something to do with his education.  He volunteered with Meals on Wheels for over twenty years.  He was one of the most beloved people in his neighborhood, where he jogged and later walked (once he could no longer jog), befriending everyone he met– those no one else could seem to get along with.

While our family is still contending with his loss, we are grateful that the Parmer Scholarship gave Robert W. Dees an exceptional start in life.  He reaped its benefits in full, and it enriched his experience immeasurably. 

Edie, thank you sharing your father's wonderful story with PSF.  We also greatly appreciate the continued financial support of your family including your mother Edith, brother Robert Jr, and cousin Mike Chappelle!

2011 Financial Results

During the third calendar year of the Parmer Scholar Foundation members contributed $22,500 plus investment income of $425.  Contributions were $5,000 greater than 2010 with the matching gift thanks to Dan Cook.  Assets as of 12-31-11 exceed $50,000 with no liabilities.

A $2,500 contribution will be made to the original W. O. Parmer Trust during May 2012.  As we gain additional members during 2012, the funds of the PSF should continue increasing.

If you have not joined the PSF, please become a member during 2012.  With the above financial success the PSF is a proven educational charity.

9-30-10 THRU 9-30-11
Checking Account Balance as of 9-30-10    
$ 5,344.07

  1. Contributions & Dues Received*
    9-30-10 thru 9-30-11

Subtotal:    $27,855.52

  1. Asset Purchases
    CD from BCB on 3-2-11
    $15,500.00 (Check # 508)
  2. Contribution to W. O. Parmer Trust
    $1,500.00 (Check #509 - 5-15-11)
  3. Operating
    Newsletter Printing, Postage, Etc.
    $251.04 (Check # 507 to Betsy Pruitt)
  4. Board Meetings & Check Order
    $63.91 (Check # 510 & 511)
Less Subtotal:   $17,314.95

Checking Account Balance as of 9-30-11    $10,540.57

  1. Checking Account**
  2. CD # 22467 @ BCB (7-27-11)
    $ 8,105.27
  3. CD # 22651 @ BCB (4-16-11)
  4. CD # 22941 @ BCB (7-16-11)
Total Assets:    $45,924.30
Liabilities        $0.00

* Contributions during calendar year 2011 - $17,650.25
**Note: checking account balance 10-11-11 - $10,940.57

Monday, September 5, 2011

Parmer Scholar Story: Pat Whetstone

Parmer Scholar StoryPat Whetstone has been a tremendous asset to PSF by serving on its board of directors and through his connections as The University of Alabama’s Director of Alumni Affairs. In fact, many of you are receiving this newsletter today because Pat was instrumental in outreach at the three universities to obtain contact information for our 462 scholars. In April, Pat retired from his post at Alabama, having the longest term of office (23 years) in this post in school history, and was rightly honored with the cover of the Alabama Alumni Magazine.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting this Greenville native, you know that his ties to family, hometown, and The University of Alabama run deep.

Whetstone is the oldest of seven children, raised by public school teachers on Gamble St. He was awarded the W.O. Parmer Scholarship in 1959.  Pat remembers that it wasn’t until he became involved with PSF over the last few years that he learned the requirements for the scholarship were that you had to be a promising student and from a relatively poor family.

“I laughed when I heard that, because I didn’t know I fell into either category.”

The following excerpts were taken directly from the Alabama Alumni Magazine, Spring 2011, Volume 91.

Whetstone said he and his siblings never considered themselves poor. “We didn’t have much, but we didn’t know it,” he said. “Nine of us lived in a three-bedroom house with one bathroom. So when I came off to Alabama and got one of those little-bitty dorm rooms, I thought I’d hit the jackpot.”

Whetstone hit the ground running when he came to the Capstone as an economics major. He pledged Sigma Nu Fraternity, played intramural sports and swam on the freshman swimming team. He also found time to meet Joyce, his future wife, on his way to swim practice one day.

“I ran into a girl I had been dating so we stopped to chat,” he said. “This girl had another girl with her, who I noticed. It took the right combination of questions over about a two-week period to ascertain the name and telephone number of this other girl, but my efforts were successful.” The two married in June 1962.

The pair’s studies were interrupted when, after three years at UA, Whetstone was called into service as an Army paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division. The couple later returned to campus to finish their studies, and Whetstone buckled down in the classroom. “I found out when I came back, that college is not that hard,” he said. “I was stunned. It was so much harder the way I was trying to do it before.”

After he and Joyce graduated in 1966, Whetstone went to work for Johnson & Johnson. They moved frequently, living in Georgia, Tennessee, Texas and the Carolinas over the years.
He took his post in the [University of Alabama] Alumni Fund Department in 1988, and three years later he was chosen as director of Alumni Affairs.

During Whetstone’s reign, the Alumni Association has grown and evolved for the better. After his first year as director, its total assets reached not quite $1 million. “Today we have assets of approximately $34 million, and most of that is scholarship endowment,” he said, noting the association has aimed to respond to the need to expand UA’s scholarship program.

“Pat Whetstone has led the National Alumni Association with vision, effective leadership and dedication,” said UA President Robert E. Witt. “But above all, he has led the NAA with heart: a heart filled with love for The University of Alabama and all of the people, programs, values and traditions that make our University truly special.” In February, Whetstone was awarded the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award, one of UA’s highest honors, given to individuals who have demonstrated the highest standards of scholarship, leadership and service.

Though many factors contributed to his successful career, Whetstone considers his background the most critical ingredient. His small high school allowed him to play football, baseball, basketball, run track and serve as president of the student government, all while taking care of his siblings. “Being the oldest child, I was responsible for my brothers and sisters, the one that handed out nickels and dimes and was in charge of money,” he said. “And I think that influenced me quite a bit. I had to do it the right way; otherwise, my parents would be bitterly disappointed.”

The people he met along the way also influenced him. “When I was in school, a lot of my teachers had fought in World War II,” he said. “They were good role models for guys in class to look up to.”
Of course, Whetstone said fathering his three children, two of them Alabama grads (the third went to Tennessee, which Whetstone said “was like a death in the family”) also changed him for the better. Now that he’s retiring, he’ll have more time with his grandchildren, which he looks forward to.

His plans for retirement include traveling with Joyce, taking continuing education classes, studying history and getting outdoors more. “I want to play a little more golf and see if I can get any better,” he said. “I want to wear Bermuda shorts and watch hummingbirds on my hummingbird feeder . . . and I hope to exercise more.”

Congratulations on a great career, Pat! Here’s to a wonderful retirement!

Read more about Pat in the following articles:
"The Best of Times" by Lauren Cabral from the Alabama Alumni Magazine
"Goodbye time: Whetstone Retires" from The Greenville Advocate

PSF Welcomes New Members for 2011-12 School Year

This fall, the Parmer Scholar Foundation welcomes four new recipients of the W.O. Parmer Scholarship:
  • Shae Earl of Luverne (Vanderbilt)
  • Mark A. Elmore of Andalusia (Auburn)
  • Anne Blake Langford of Greenville (Auburn)
  • Aspen Stough of Luverne (Alabama)

New IRS Code to Deplete Scholarship Fund: Letter from President/CEO Walter R. Parmer

Walter R. Parmer
PSF President/CEO
On September 23, 2009, The IRS and Treasury Department released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to enforce the Pension Protection Act of 2006. Since the original Walter O. Parmer Trust is classified as a private foundation under IRS Code Section 4942, the trust must distribute not only income but also principal in years where net income is less than five percent (5%) of the aggregate fair market value of all the trust’s assets.

Since the W.O. Parmer Trust is earning less than 5% income in the current market, the trust is being required to distribute not only income but also principal during 2011 and future years.  Consequently, the scholarship amounts will be increased and/or the number of scholarships awarded. 

This will allow our organization, the Parmer Scholar Foundation (PSF), to continue to grow its corpus of assets and not distribute any funds to the trust at the present time.  Hopefully, the PSF can accumulate funds of at least $250, 000 before being required to distribute income to the W.O. Parmer Trust.  Obviously, the larger the assets grow, the more income there will be to supplement scholarships in future years.  The PSF currently has assets (CDs and checking account) of almost $41,500.

Our continuing contributions are extremely important since we have an opportunity to create a larger corpus of assets than we originally thought possible.  With more than 100 contributing members, the PSF is a very viable organization.  However, we can achieve even greater goals provided the remaining 216 Parmer Scholars begin contributing.  Please remember that any amount that you can afford to contribute is of significant value to the PSF.  Our goal is for each Parmer Scholar to become a donating member of the Parmer Scholar Foundation. Please join us today!

If you have any questions or comments about the above information, please feel free to write me at 1723 Gravel Hill Road, Greenville, AL 36037.

Walter R. Parmer

Fundraising Almost to Half of 2011 Goal

In the first half of 2011, fundraising has remained strong.  Thus far, the organization has received $13,034.75 - almost half of our $30,000 goal for 2011. These funds have been provided by 29 scholars, one friend of the organization, and PSF’s first corporate matching gift thanks to Dan Cook’s efforts.

As a result, PSF made its first contribution to the W.O. Parmer Scholarship Trust in May 2011 in the amount of $1500. During its first two years (June 2009 through May 2011), PSF has accumulated almost $41,500 in assets.  This has been achieved with the support of 103 scholars. Current students (16) are considered members of the PSF with their dues being paid by a fellow Parmer Scholar.

Total Parmer Scholars
Declined Scholarship
Non-completions due to grades, health, or transfer
Current Students
Graduates in last 5 years
NET Potential Contributors
Donating Members
Established Own Trusts
Members Yet to Contribute

Your Support is Needed
Of the 322 potential contributors of PSF, 103 have donated, and three have established trust funds for institutions of higher learning - J.D. Lamar, Robert E. Hayes, and Ronnie Samson, all of which honor the legacy of our benefactor Walter O. Parmer.

The PSF needs the support of each Parmer Scholar.  If each of the 216 members yet to contribute donate an average of $100 per year, we can raise $32,200 annually. Since the original trust must distribute 5% of its assets each year, the trust will be depleted in a few years.  In the meantime, PSF has the opportunity to accumulate assets to continue the legacy of Walter O. Parmer, if we all contribute a small amount each year.  Together, we can amass a substantial sum.  For example:

Current Assets
2011 Yearly Contributions
Less 5% to Trust
Projected Assets on 12/31/2012

By increasing the assets of PSF by an average of $30,000 per year through 2018, the organization will have funds of $250,000 - the same amount as the original trust in 1936. 

Please join us today! After all, we each have lived a substantially better life simply by being selected as a Parmer Scholar.