Freed-Hardeman University will honor country music star Eddy Arnold and home manufacturer Jim Clayton with honorary doctorates during commencement exercises Aug. 8.
“Because these two natives of Chester County have achieved the highest levels of success in their professions, we consider this special occasion a time when Chester County, Henderson and Freed-Hardeman University can recognize and appreciate these very talented individuals for their achievements,” FHU President Milton Sewell said.
Arnold, often called the Ambassador of Country Music, has sold more than 90 million records and placed more country records on the charts than any other country singer. His hits – which include such tunes as “I’ll Hold You in My Heart,” “Bouquet of Roses” and “Cattle Call” – have made him one of the top recording artists of all times and have earned him such honors as the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year award, the Academy of Country Music’s Pioneer Award and the Songwriter’s Guild’s President’s Award. Arnold is also recognized in the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tenn.
Clayton, a graduate of Chester County High School, is founder of Clayton Homes Inc., the nation’s leading maker and seller of manufactured homes. Though his earliest business endeavors – in auto sales – proved disappointing, he has since led a company that is still reporting annual profits while the rest of the industry suffers. In retirement, Clayton is still an active businessperson, as owner of First State Bank, the largest bank in Henderson. He has been recognized nationally for his business activities, most recently as one of the Forbes 400 wealthiest people.
Commencement exercises to honor Arnold, Clayton and the August 2003 graduating class will begin at 6 p.m. in Loyd Auditorium. A reception in Arnold’s and Clayton’s honor will be hosted at 3 p.m. in the Sports Center Main Arena and will include special presentations by County Executive Troy Kilzer and Mayor Eddie Patterson, to be made at 4 p.m. For more information, contact the Office of Academic Affairs at 731-989-6004.