By Jacob Barker
Each day Clemson students walk into Redfern Health Center and are greeted by a warm, smiling face, the face of Susan Fagan, who works as an administrative assistant at the center. Without even realizing the importance of her actions, Fagan continuously opens her arms to all students she comes in contact with and cares for them as though they were her own children.
For more than 40 years of dedication and service to Clemson, Fagan is being recognized today as Tiger Brotherhood’s Mother of the Year. What makes her so deserving of this distinguished award is not simply her service to Clemson, her community and her family, but it is also the humble manner in which she engages in these acts of kindness. Fagan grew up in Lavonia, GA and it was in high school that she met her future husband Charles. After dating for almost three years, the couple was married in 1958. The two moved to Clemson in 1960 and have been devoted Tiger fans ever since.
The Fagans have two daughters, Melanie and Debra, both of whom are now grown and have Clemson families of their own. Melanie teaches at Ravenel Elementary School in Seneca and is married to Rusty Guill, a Clemson graduate who works in the Student Affairs office at the university. The Guills have two children, Kayln who is nine years old and Carson who is seven. Debra is married to Wayne Martin, who is also a graduate of Clemson. The Martins now live in Powdersville and have two children, Brandon age 10 and Ashleigh who is six years old. Over the years, in addition to being a mom to her own two children and a grandmother to her four grandchildren, Fagan has taken on the role of a mom to all Clemson students. She has been an employee of Clemson since 1969 and for the last seven years she has worked in the pharmacy and at the front desk of the Redfern Health Center on campus. Besides always having candy for the students and her fellow employees to enjoy, she often brings fresh flowers from her yard to brighten up the lobby area.
“Susan Fagan is simply one of the nicest people I have ever met,” said Dr. Rose Marie McDonald, a fellow employee of Fagan’s at Redfern. “She is so warm and caring towards the students and their time spent at Redfern is greatly enhanced because of her. When we conduct student evaluations, she is always mentioned by the students as being the highlight of their Redfern experience. What is also so amazing about her is that she treats everyone that works with her with that same kindness. She is always bringing candy and flowers for everyone in the office and she knows exactly what to say when one of us is having a hard day.”
In addition to her many years of service at Clemson, Fagan is involved with numerous organizations in the community. She has been an active member of the Fort Hill Garden Club, the Pickens County Council on Aging, Manna and Helping Hands. She has also served on the Board of Directors for the Meals on Wheels program for more than 20 years. She is a Deacon at the Baptist Church in Clemson and serves on the student committee at the church.
As active as Fagan has been in the community over the years, it is her dedication and love for the students of Clemson University that makes her especially deserving of the Mother-of-the-Year award. Through the adoption program at the Baptist Church, Fagan has been a second mother to literally hundreds of Clemson students during the past 40 years.
A standing invitation for Sunday lunch at her house is extended 52 a weeks a year for her adopted students. She serves all the meals on china plates and with silver place settings in order to make the students feel more at home. It is not unusual for there to be five to 10 college students every Sunday at the Fagan’s house because their friends are always welcome just as they would be at the students’ real homes.
Other than meals on Sundays, students are always dropping by the Fagan’s house to have supper, wash their clothes, borrow a car or pickup truck, or simply just to talk. And for the students who are from especially far away, she cares for their pets and plants over fall and spring breaks and other university holidays.
Students often spend the night at the Fagan’s home if they need a quiet place to stay, and during exam week she always has goody bags waiting for them when they come over. Many of the students’ parents even stay at the Fagan’s house when they come to Clemson to visit their children.
“As a child growing up in the Baptist church, I always felt a sense of love and protection whenever I was around Mrs. Fagan,” remembered current Clemson graduate student Bobby Rettew. “She was always there for me when I needed I hug and as I got older, I began to fully appreciate the way she affects so many peoples lives. She is a great listener and she always makes everyone around her feel amazingly special. She has a unique connection with Clemson students and if any student ever needed a hot meal or a place to stay, Mrs. Fagan was always there waiting with open arms.”
“Throughout my four years at Clemson, I was amazed by the warmth and consideration that Mrs. Fagan provides each student with whom she comes into contact,” said former Clemson Student Body President Rita Bolt. “It is impossible to describe the impact her kindness has had on the Clemson family and her own family, and she is truly deserving of the Mother-of-the-Year Award.”
It is very difficult to put into words the humility and kindness of Fagan and the tremendous impact she has had on her community and the students of Clemson. She never seeks or wants credit for all that she does for the people around her, but today we recognize Susan Fagan’s love and dedication for Clemson and her 40 years of service to its students.
What is Tiger Brotherhood? Tiger Brotherhood is an honorary service fraternity at Clemson. It still embraces the same basic tenets as established by it founders, led by John Logan Marshall in 1929. Tiger Brotherhood promotes high standards of social and ethical conduct, while recognizing in its members an earnest devotion to Clemson, coupled with the integrity of character commensurate with a typical Clemson gentleman. The organization embodies an unequaled cross-section representation of the Clemson community. Students, faculty and staff all work with the bonds of brotherhood to champion a closer relationship. One for all and all for one, with Clemson and its many traditions and undying spirit as the central focus, today provides viable, flexible and a continuing forum for ideas and unending service to Clemson.
Jacob Barker is from Clemson, SC and is a graduate assistant in the Clemson Sports Information Office. He is a member of Tiger Brotherhood.
December 8, 2023