May 14, 2001
Dottie King remembers arriving in Greenville from Atlanta in 1950 with her husband, Joe Ulmer. Ulmer, a recent Georgia Tech graduate, was working for J.P. Stevens.
With three young children, she went looking for a job in 1959. As fate would have it, Buck Mickel’s secretary at Fluor Corporation was departing due to pregnancy. King landed he job.
What followed for King the next 40 years was the “most wonderful journey.” As administrative assistant to Mickel, King had an inside view of the development of Greenville. A man of vision, dedication and resilience, Mickel is credited with Greenville’s growth and evolution.
One of Mickel’s activities was serving on Clemson’s Board of Trustees. “I had no real Clemson connection,” recalled King. “But I grew to love Clemson. There are such wonderful people here.”
In honor of Mickel, King has established an IPTAY Endowment.
“I wanted to help a young person get an education and to honor Buck and his family. If there’s one thing Buck taught me, it was ‘you get back ten-fold what you give.’ “
King was recently recognized at a dinner at the IPTAY offices. IPTAY Executive Director George Bennett said, “Dottie is joining a select company of Endowment donors. We want to thank her profoundly for this kind gift.”
Former University President Walter Cox recalled knowing Mickel’s uncle, Charles Daniel, and Mickel’s contributions while serving on Clemson’s board.
“The Strom Thurmond Institute was being built and we were having some funding problems. Buck Mickel rolled up his sleeves and went to work on it. he cashed in some of his chips and we were able to finance that building.
“We would not have the Strom Thurmond Institute, if Buck had not made it happen.”
Les McCraw, former chairman and CEO of Fluor Corporation, remembered first knowing Mickel when McCraw was a student at Clemson and Mickel was construction chief for the tin cans in the 1950s.
What followed when McCraw joined Fluor was a close and lasting relationship. “Buck was a man of incredible vision. If anybody could have the perfect mentor, Buck was certainly that.”
King is now retired, but wonders how she ever had time to work. “I exercise three times a week. I work at the hospital. I got see Minor (Mrs. Buck Mickel) several times a week. And I go to Clemson baseball games with my grandchildren.” King has three children:
Joe Ulmer II, who is a horticulturist in Tampa, FL. BonniePittman, who resides in Greenville. Donna King, who lives inSaarburken, Germany, where she has worked for the 24 years as asinger in State Opera House of Germany.
King’s second husband was Dennis King.
King said Mickel “only got angry at me twice and it was my fault both time.”
Mickel was “like a bulldog” about his visions for Greenville. “He would sometimes be voted down, but he wouldn’t let go of his visions. He just kept coming back.”
King said the Endowment serves as a fitting memory of Mickel. “I wanted to do something in his honor. He loved Clemson and so do I.”
March 14, 2019