the Byrnes gave their hearts
Hal Norton '49
On April 19, 1949, I received the following letter: Little did I realize as I opened it the tremendous influence that it was going to play on my life.
April 18, 1949
Mr. Hal Norton
Dear Mr. Norton:
I have recommended to the Trustee of the Byrnes Foundation that you be given a scholarship and you will hear from him within a day or two. The purpose of this letter is to tell you that I want to do more for the young people awarded scholarships than to merely contribute financially. I want to help you with your problems during your college life and you must feel free to write me at any time you think I may be of assistance. I want you to make good.
James F. Byrnes
I had no reason to doubt him; yet I could hardly believe that a man of his stature could really care about even the little things in my life.
From the moment that we, the first thirty scholars, met Gov. and Mrs. Byrnes at their home in Spartanburg, I realized that they really did care. Even surrounded by newspaper reporters from across the US, representatives from Twentieth Century Fox Studios who were taking pictures, and prominent people at every station, I realized that we were more than a project. In those moments, the Byrnes gave their hearts to us, and we knew it!!
During the course of all of those years of knowing them, I never sent a card, never wrote a note, never called any contact that these elderly and very busy people did not respond. I am sure that this was the case with of of the Byrnes Scholars. In every way possible, Gov. and Mrs. Byrnes gave their personal support. Only a short time was required for us to learn that their financial support was the least important of all of their gifts to us.
The years that we shared with Mom and Pop Byrnes were filled with many happy moments. What a treasure book of memories they have left us! Weekends in Columbia and at the beach luncheons visits in their home telephone calls letters all gave substance to the statement in his letter to me, and to the other Byrnes Scholars: I want to do more for the young people awarded scholarships than to merely contribute financially.