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Wesleyan Mourns Death of Second President, Dr. Bruce Petteway

The North Carolina Wesleyan College community is saddened to have learned of the death of Dr. Samuel Bruce Petteway, the college’s second president, on November 20. He was 89.  Dr. Petteway was president of Wesleyan from 1975 to 1986.

A memorial service was held Saturday, November 23, at 10:00 a.m. at Westminster United Methodist Church in Kinston.

Dr. Petteway is survived by his wife, Eleanor Sugg Petteway; a daughter, Margaret P. Myers and husband Baxter J. Myers of Greenville; a son, Samuel Bruce Petteway, Jr. and wife, Traci, of Rocky Mount; five grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

He earned both a master’s degree in education and a doctorate from North Carolina State University and was selected to be the fourth president of the College of The Albemarle in Elizabeth City in 1968.

In 1975, Dr. Petteway was chosen as the second president of North Carolina Wesleyan College. During his 11-year presidency, he is credited with doubling the college’s enrollment and increasing the number of off-campus commuter students to match and then exceed the number of residential students. The adult off-campus students were offered degree opportunities at night. Evening program centers were established in Raleigh, Goldsboro, and New Bern. In 1987, the program was officially named the Adult Degree Program. The program grew and today is known as the ASPIRE Program (Adult Student Program: Innovative, Respected, Engaging). Classes today are offered in nine locations through Eastern North Carolina.

Also under Dr. Petteway’s leadership, Wesleyan was accepted in 1972 into Omicron Delta Kappa, the national honorary society for leadership in extra-curricular activities. Wesleyan became only the fourth college in North Carolina to attain an ODK Circle, after Duke, Wake Forest, and Davidson.

In addition, during the Petteway years at Wesleyan the number of ethnic minorities in the student body increased. The first African-Americans entered in the fall of 1967.

In 1986, Dr. Petteway retired from Wesleyan and organized his own consulting firm, Philanthropic Consultants, Inc., which served Lenoir Memorial Hospital for several years.

Dr. Petteway was a charter member of Westminster United Methodist Church and was organizing president of the Boys Club of Lenoir County. He served as chairman of the Conference Board of Trustees for the United Methodist Church and as treasurer of the Methodist Home for Children, as chairman of the Local Committee at Cypress Glen Retirement Home, and served on numerous civic and commercial boards in Elizabeth City and was president of the Rotary Club in Rocky Mount.

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