Larry Gantt ’59 has enjoyed a successful life as a family man, a military man and business leader, so the 81-year-old Hartsville resident and his wife, Virginia, decided to give credit where credit is due.

Larry Gantt, ROTC, endowment, Sonoco

Virginia and Larry Gantt with last year’s financial gift recipient, Nicholas Lange.
Image Credit: Submitted

The proud Army veteran served in Korea with the 7th Infantry Division, followed by a stint with the 101st Airborne Division. As a successful retired business executive, he decided to reward his alma mater for all it’s done for him by creating an endowment. The Larry “Nat” (’59) and Virginia Gantt ROTC Endowment will provide financial support to Clemson University ROTC cadets each year.

“At the time I left college, I didn’t realize the impact Clemson had on me, but the older I get the more I reflect on how important the time at the university influenced my life path,” said Gantt, who picked up the nickname ‘Nat’ while in ROTC at Clemson. “I also realized the importance ROTC played in my development, and how proud I am of the university.”

The Gantts established the endowment five years ago, and while the endowment grows, they have generously provided additional monetary support to assist ROTC students. This year, their annual financial gifts benefitted two College of Business management majors, William R. Cusic, Mechanicsville, Md., Army ROTC, and Ty B. Evans of Seneca, S.C., Air Force ROTC. The Gantts look forward to the first endowment award being made in the next school year.

“These two young men are just the kind of outstanding people our country needs – solid leaders who will be successful in whatever direction their lives take them. It makes us proud that we’re having such a positive impact on these two young men,” Gantt said.

The retired corporate vice president of Sonoco Products & Co., credits much of his time at Clemson and specifically his military curriculum, for the success he had serving his country and in business.

“Discipline and leadership are the two qualities that were instilled in me through the ROTC program at Clemson. From the discipline of the drills, to the way instructors handled students, I learned so much from those experiences,” said Gantt, who graduated with an industrial management degree and was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the Army.

Gantt left the Army as a 1st lieutenant, then joined the National Guard where he reached the rank of captain. He said his military duty greatly impacted his career at Sonoco, where he worked for more than 39 years.

“The military had a tremendous influence on my career. I was a better leader of people because of the leadership and discipline that carried over from the military and my time in the ROTC program at Clemson.”

Gantt said he is able to give back to the university today, because of how it prepared him to be successful in life.

“Without alumni commitment to the university there’s no legacy, and without a legacy the university would not be the same Clemson Tigers we all know. Virginia and I want to keep that Clemson legacy going, and by providing financial backing, we’re not only helping tomorrow’s leaders, but we are thanking the university for the role it played in our success.”

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