College benefactor remembered for generosity, dedication

Published 9:42 pm Thursday, November 13, 2008

Many benefactors have helped shape the direction of Paul D. Camp Community College. Prominent among them is the college’s namesake, Paul D. Camp, who unknowingly made the most lasting contribution.

Through his legacy of generosity, his family donated part of his land they had inherited for the establishment of the college in Franklin.

In October 1990, just before PDCCC’s 20-year celebration, I had the opportunity to interview Texie Camp Marks, his last living offspring, to record the following account of the father she knew who long after his death became the father of PDCCC.

Paul D. Camp

Born in 1849, Paul D. Camp, with two brothers, started a lumber business after the Civil War. He became the first president of Camp Manufacturing Company (now International Paper) when it was founded in 1887.

While his education was not extensive, he loved education and realized the importance of education for young people and did all he could to establish it in the community. He and his brothers (and other prominent people) established Franklin Military Academy and Franklin Female Institute. He also donated scholarships to Chowan College and the University of Richmond.

Fond Memories

Texie Marks recalled her “papa” with fondness and admiration. “He wanted all of us to have a good education, and we all were privileged in going to good colleges in this state of Virginia. The four of us girls went to Hollins College, and the boys went to VMI and then to the University of Virginia,” she said.

She particularly remembers his mustache — he always had one — and his dedication to his church. Each Sunday, no matter what came up, he faithfully hitched his horse to a buggy, traveling six or seven miles through the woods to Sycamore Baptist Church.

He enjoyed playing games at the home where his family was reared—The Elms. After the evening meal he would gather everyone in the living room for family worship. The ceremony included reading the Bible, praying, and talking for a while about spiritual things.

Afterwards, “papa:” always wanted to play cards or games such as dominoes. This continued into his seventies. His wife (Mama) didn’t like to play cards or games. While everyone else amused papa, she did handwork—making buttonholes or darning.

He also loved hunting, especially fox and deer. His favorite place was a tract of land near Como, N.C., which came to be known as the ‘Big Woods’. He did not drink nor smoke, and he didn’t like for the people who were hunting to drink or smoke. So when the men from up North (salesmen for the lumber company) would come down, it was a real joke.

They would put their liquor in a box by the fireplace. “Papa knew it was there, so he would sit on that box and they never could get their liquor out.”

Recollections of his sense of humor, however, are transcended by the memory of his concern for his community. He instilled in his children a love for people and the belief that you are not better than anyone else, that each person is supposed to stand for himself and try to do for his community.

“That is one thing that papa really stood for, trying to make your community one of the best places for people to live in,” his daughter said.

A Generous Soul

Paul D. Camp was indeed a generous soul. He was generous with his time, his talents and his finances.

“Often, he was too generous with his finances, thinking that everyone was to be trusted and would pay. Many of them didn’t, but he loved them just the same,” Texie Camp Marks said.

Were he alive, his daughter was convinced that he would be extremely proud that a community college bears his name. Paul D. Camp Community College is an appropriate epitaph for the words by which he lived: “Everything in life works two ways: you give, and then it’s given back to you.”