Jimmie Douglas

Jimmie DouglasWith nothing more than $20 and a note written by his father, Jimmie Douglas headed to Savannah in hopes of enrolling in Georgia State College (now Savannah State University). The year was 1944 and Douglas, the son of farmers, had just graduated from high school in Wayne County, Ga.

Douglas was given a private interview with President Benjamin F. Hubert, who read the note and asked the young man why he wanted to attend college.

"I told him that I had a pretty hard life on the farm and I want to improve myself if I can," Douglas reminisces.

But Douglas' $20 would only cover one quarter's tuition, which was $15 at the time. The $5 left over wouldn't go very far. Hubert came up with a plan for Douglas to earn money by feeding livestock and cutting grass on campus for 10 cents an hour.

Later Douglas was awarded $800 in grant money, which he supplemented with a job on the weekends earning $1 a night. That grant money, plus the money he earned during his weekend job, enabled Douglas to work toward his degree in agriculture. He graduated in 1948 and has always been appreciative of the opportunity he was given.

"I said then if I ever get any money, I'm going to give Savannah State a donation," Douglas says.

He made good on that promise. In 2013, Douglas and his wife, Ellen, established the Jimmie C. Douglas Scholarship Endowment. The scholarship is awarded to students who demonstrate strong financial need and best exemplify the qualities of leadership, sportsmanship and community service. Preference is given to residents of Jenkins County and Millen, Ga., where Douglas and his wife reside.

"I've been blessed, and I'm still going to give some more," adds Douglas, who celebrated his 65th college reunion in 2013.

After graduating from college, Douglas became an agricultural teacher in Toombs County. While there he met Ellen Hopson, an event he calls "the best thing that ever happened to me," and the two married in 1950. Douglas spent two years in the U.S. Army, then began working as an extension agent in Washington County. He later assumed the same position in Jenkins County, assisting citizens with crop production, vegetables, lawn care and other horticulture issues. Douglas retired in 1984. Throughout his career, Douglas farmed on the side and continues to work as a farmer today.

Douglas has been a fixture in the Millen community over the years. He served for 12 years on the Jenkins County Board of Commissioners, including five years as chairman, and also was a member of the Swainsboro Technical College Board.

He enjoys visiting the Savannah State campus every year for homecoming and especially enjoyed catching up with old friends at the Class of 1948 reunion.

"Some of [my classmates] I hadn't seen since 1948. One of them was my old roommate," says Douglas. "The campus has changed for the better. It's a beautiful campus. We're proud of Savannah State."