From a Very Humble Beginning: Dewey E. Tate, Class of 1962
Dewey Tate grew up in poverty, the son of sharecroppers who did not own land, but worked it for other owners. He knew there was a better life available if he worked hard enough. He, like many, was willing to do anything to earn a college degree. Jacksonville State University provided him with an opportunity to work on campus to pay for his tuition. He accepted.
For three of his four years as JSU, he washed dishes in the cafeteria. His senior year, he was promoted to a dorm counselor position in Patterson Hall. During his time at JSU, most male students were required to be a part of the ROTC program. Dewey was no exception. His experience in the program taught him the discipline and leadership that he values today. As a result of the program, he excelled when on active duty as an artillery officer.
Dewey was encouraged by his mother to earn a better life. "She was a very strong, intelligent woman" who taught him that he could do anything he desired if he worked hard enough. He proved her right by earning his Bachelor of Science degree in business in 1962. He credits his degree and military experience with teaching him how to effectively get things done through positive leadership. He went on to have a very successful career and retired as vice-president and chief operating officer of the Tensar Corporation in Atlanta, Ga.
Today, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Brenda, and their four children. He and Brenda travel quite often and have gone to Africa several times where they have funded clinics and other aid efforts. Dewey says, "We first went to Africa so that I could take photos of the large animals. One of the guides took us to visit his village. It was a life-changing experience. The people still live a ‘stone age' lifestyle. We felt like we had to find a way to help." And that they did through various aid projects.
Giving back is important to Dewey and his family. He gives back to JSU because it "provided a way to earn a college degree for someone without money." He says, "Working several hours a day washing dishes in a cafeteria was not fun, but it resulted in my getting a degree. That degree changed my life in many positive ways, giving me a better life than I would otherwise have had."
From his generosity, 20 students have benefitted from the Dewey E. Tate ROTC Scholarship at JSU since 2007. And the giving hasn't stopped there. Dewey and Brenda have recently established the Dewey E. Tate Scholarship fund at JSU for students who have a need for financial assistance, excel academically, are involved in community service, and who are willing to give back to the scholarship fund upon entering their career.
The Tate family is leaving a legacy for future students to maintain.
Tate's advice to any young person is to do whatever it takes to earn a college degree. As he says, "The result is life-changing; certainly it has been for me."
Discover the many ways you can leave of legacy for others to follow and help future JSU students fulfill their dreams.