News & Stories
June 24, 2022

Spotlight on giving


From left to right: John Roessler, Pat Thoman-Burton and Dr. Jim Burton

Scholarship gift with a twist

Pat Thoman-Burton (76c) never stopped loving Berry, even after completing her education elsewhere. It should come as no surprise, then, that two dear friends wishing to honor her memory – Dr. Jim Burton and John Roessler – chose to establish a scholarship at the college she held so dear.

Burton and Roessler aren’t just any “friends,” however. Not by a long shot. Sure, they have many things in common, but one rises above them all. At different points in time each was married to Pat, Roessler for 20 years, Burton for 18. Quoting the late Paul Harvey: “Now you know the rest of the story.”

And yet there’s more.

Over the course of many years, these three friends formed a bond transcending the difficulty of divorce, joining Burton’s ex-wife, Nancy, in a unique quartet that, simply put, did life together. When Pat died unexpectedly in September 2021, the others took care of each other, just as she would have wanted.

“Pat had told me, ‘If I die first, I want you to take care of John and Nancy,’” Burton recalled. “When she died first, they both took care of me. We’re still best friends. What can I say?”

Pat was many things, including an outdoor enthusiast (thus her love of Berry), successful hotel executive, gourmet cook, master gardener and event hostess extraordinaire. But those titles only hint at her true quality.

To Burton, she was a “beautiful person” who was intelligent, kind-hearted and highly principled. Roessler described her as “a loving, caring person to everybody,” adding that their friendship grew much stronger in the years following their divorce.

After she died, the two men made the decision on how to honor her together, even as they helped each other process the loss. Astounded by their unique connection, a priest in their counseling group remarked, “I’ve never seen this before. Your wife must have been a wonderful person.” Their response: “Of course she was.”

Together, they contributed $100,000 toward the new scholarship. An anonymous friend of Berry matched their generosity, resulting in a $200,000 endowment within the Griswell Scholarship Program. Named for Pat, this fund will support one Griswell student each year, extending the gift of opportunity to a hardworking young person who already has overcome great adversity in life.

“I think she’d be thrilled to know about it and to have her name attached to helping students get through college,” said Roessler.

Burton agreed, adding that he’d like recipients to know, “Even though she’s never met you, she loves you anyway. And she cares about you and wants you to be successful and happy and fulfill your life’s purpose.”

To learn how you can create a scholarship at Berry honoring someone special in your life, contact Jean Druckenmiller at 706-238-7938 or


Cassandra Wheeler

Powering opportunity

For 23 seasons, Hank Aaron was the ultimate source of baseball power.

While he never attended Berry, the late slugger exemplified what can happen when hard work and determination are infused with opportunity – the same combination that inspired Martha Berry.

In recognition of those shared values, Berry has joined a select group of colleges and universities nationwide partnering with the Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Foundation to help low-income students from diverse populations develop their talents and pursue their dreams.

Among those stepping forward in support of these new Berry scholarships is the Georgia Power Foundation, thus continuing a longstanding relationship between the college and the state’s largest utility.

“Berry is such a vital part of this community,” said Cassandra Wheeler, Georgia Power’s Northwest Regional Director in Rome from 2017 to 2022. “We value what they do and how they serve students. The Georgia Power Foundation is happy to partner with Berry College to ensure that we have students who thrive.”

In her role as regional director, Wheeler has witnessed firsthand the quality of the experiences available to Berry students. She is excited to see how this latest grant will extend similar opportunities to those who might
not otherwise have access to such a distinctive education.

To learn how you can support Berry’s Hank Aaron Chasing the Dream Scholarship, contact Stacey Spillers at 706-368-6774 or


Tim and Maureen Trane Goodwin

Preserving Berry’s past for the future

When Tim (03C) and Maureen Trane (03C) Goodwin walked down the aisle at Frost Chapel on May 11, 2002, they joined a special group of alumni who have celebrated their big day in one of the most beautiful spots on the Berry campus.

This spring, the couple joined another select group of alumni and friends who are committed to preserving this beloved landmark for future generations.

“Frost Chapel is very special to us,” said Tim, founder and senior wealth advisor at Goodwin Investment Advisory and former president of the Berry Alumni Association. “As students, we were part of a ministry called ‘More’ that would gather there every Sunday night for a time of worship and sharing. However, nothing beats the memory of our wedding day.”

With their gift of $25,000 to name a window inside the historic sanctuary, Tim and Maureen have done their part to support a $1.2 million renovation plan that includes restoration of Frost’s clear leaded-glass windows and installation of a new climate-control system enhancing the chapel’s ability to host events year-round.

“We are proud and grateful for the opportunity to help ensure that Frost is in tip-top shape for current and future generations,” Tim said. “And maybe one day one of our kids or future grandkids will walk by our window plaque and be inspired.”

Visit to support the Frost renovation. For information on naming opportunities, contact Scott Breithaupt (91C, 96G) at 706-238-5897 or

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