Clemson University inducts newest members into the Fort Hill Legacy Society

On November 18, 2022, Clemson University inducted the newest members into the Fort Hill Legacy Society by dedicating bronze leaves to the university in honor of their generosity: William “Bill” C. Nettles, Jr. ’55, ’59 and Patricia M .Nessels and Michael G. Roetnor, Margaret Roetnor and Phyllis Roetnor.

The Fort Hill Legacy Society honors those who leave $1 million or more to Clemson University. During the Fort Hill Legacy Society’s Bronze Leaf dedication, the leaves for the Nettles and the Roetners were placed under the Second Century Oak, which stands in Fort Hill at the historic site of the first meeting of the university’s Board of Trustees.

William “Bill” C. Nettles, Jr. ’55, ’59 and Patricia M. Nettles

William “Bill” C. Nettles, Jr. will be remembered by many as a true “Renaissance man.” He left a profound impact at Clemson University through endowments to provide scholarship and program support for plant and environmental sciences, entomology, university libraries, and the South Carolina Botanical Gardens. The Nettles family also supported the university through donations to the Calhoun Lecture Series, the Clemson University Tiger Band, the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts, Scholarships for Scholars, and the Class of 1955 Reunion Fund. Bill Nettles was instrumental in raising funds to start the popular ’55 Exchange, home of Clemson’s delicious ice cream. Every aspect of the Clemson Experience has touched on the Nettles family’s legacy of dedication, loyal service and transformative philanthropy.

Nettles had a fighting intellect with a profound knowledge of culture and nature. He graduated from Clemson University with a BS in Agricultural Chemistry and an MS in Entomology. Nettles served in the US Army Reserve from 1958 to 1960 and received his PhD in toxicology from Rutgers University in 1962. For over 32 years he worked as a research entomologist/toxicologist for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Louisiana and Texas.

President Jim Clements (left) presents a gift to Michael and Margaret Roetnor’s niece, Catherine Cutter (right), during the Bronze Leaf dedication of the Fort Hill Legacy Society.

Nettles’ wife, Patricia “Pat” Maguire, received her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of Texas-Austin and went on to earn an accounting degree from Louisiana State University. They have traveled the world together for 37 years, getting to know different cultures and enjoying their passion for nature. Unfortunately Pat passed away in 2004.

Aside from academics and careers, Nettles had a deep desire to make the world a better place and dedicated himself to improving the lives of those around him.

After retiring in 1994, Bill Nettles returned to the Clemson area and settled in Salem, South Carolina. He was a member of the Patrons Council for the Calhoun Lecture Series at Clemson University and was recognized by the university as a member of the 1889 Society and the Clemson Legacy Society. Nettles married Jean Grace McGonigal in 2006 and they enjoyed a wonderful life together. He died in December 2017.

The Nettles’ love and immense generosity was a light that warmed and enlightened the Clemson community, and through his posthumous support, Bill Nettles will forever influence and inspire generations.

Michael G Roetnor, Margaret Roetnor and Phyllis Roetnor

Michael G. Roetnor was born and lived most of his life on the coast of Southern California. He graduated from California State University in 1951. After graduating, he enlisted in the United States Air Force and flew the B29 bomber during the Korean War. For 25 years, the Roetnors lived in Los Angeles, where Michael owned a successful car dealership. After retiring, the couple moved to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina in 1993. Michael and Margaret Roetnor had a son, Nick, a US Army helicopter pilot. Sadly, Nick Roetnor passed away in 1980.

Everyone who met the Roetnors described them as kind and loving. They enjoyed sailing to different places during their retirement. This passion introduced Michael to people from all over the world. He shared his enthusiasm for golf and his love and dedication to his country as a staunch patriot.

One afternoon Michael and Margaret Roetnor were driving through Clemson; They stopped JoVanna King, Senior Associate Vice President for Advancement, to ask for directions. This chance encounter established a long and rewarding relationship for Clemson University and for Jim and JoVanna King with the Roetnors.

After Margaret died, Michael found love again with Phyllis “PJ” Roetnor. They came back to campus often, which gave Michael Roetnor the opportunity to walk around campus and talk to students. He met several ROTC leaders including Col. Sandy Edge and Captain Onan. After much deliberation, Michael agreed to pledge a substantial bequest that would raise more than $1.5 million to create an endowment grant honoring Margaret Roetnor, who died in 1996, and Phyllis Roetnor, his second wife.

Cadet Isabel Strinsky (right) accepts a gift on behalf of the Roetnor family from Fort Hill Legacy Society Bronze Leaf Dedication Chair True Liles (left) and President Jim Clements (center).

The Roetnors left a legacy of inspiring and preparing ROTC cadets for military service. Clemson Army and Air Force ROTC cadets carry a rich tradition of the historic Clemson Corps of Cadets. Clemson University’s Army and Air Force ROTC programs are among the best in the country. Talented young students serve our great nation in every corner of the world as the future leaders of our armed forces. Through their patriotic duty, this extraordinary investment in their future will keep the outstanding and selfless service of the Clemson Corps of Cadets alive and thriving.

The Roetnor legacy is carried on by the cadets of today and tomorrow, and Clemson University is forever grateful to Michael, Margaret and Phyllis Roetnor for their unwavering commitment to patriotism and generosity.

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