By Jenny Gregory

Truett McConnell University [TMU] President Dr. Emir Caner announced the naming of four campus roadways in honor of significant university supporters during an unveiling ceremony on Tuesday, January 23.

“The cabinet and I prayed about how can we honor those to whom honor is due,” Caner said.

“Not only are you not here by accident,” he said, “but you stand on the shoulders of giants, seventy years of saints and sinners who have come through these doors to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. They are your prayer warriors.”

“And so today,” he added, “we are going to give honor to them by naming these four roads after whom honor is due.”

Caner then revealed the names of each road as: Jones Circle, in honor of Ethelene Dyer Jones; Tilley Drive, in honor of Coach Colby Tilley; Victory Lane, in honor of Victory Processing; and Sutton Drive, in honor of Gloria Sutton.

Impacting since the beginning: Ethelene Dyer Jones

Jones was born in 1930 on a farm in Union County. She was saved at the age of nine at Choestoe Baptist Church and was baptized in the Notla River. Jones married the Rev. Grover Jones whom she met at Truett McConnell where they both graduated with the charter class of 1947. She went on to receive her bachelor’s, master’s and specialist’s degrees at other Georgia universities and spent her career teaching in the elementary, secondary and post-secondary classroom settings until her retirement in 1990. Throughout her lifetime, Jones received many awards, including the Georgia Governor’s Award and The Women in American History Award. She also authored many published works including several poems and textbooks. Jones and her husband of 62 years, who passed away in 2011, had two children – Keith (who passed away in 2017) and Cynthia Denise, seven grandchildren and 20 great grandchildren.

Record winning and beloved Coach: Coach Colby Tilley

Born in Raleigh, North Carolina, Tilley eventually made his way to the North Georgia mountains and to the campus of Truett McConnell. Before his tenure here, Tilley received his bachelor’s, master’s, and specialist’s degrees in health and administration fields from respected universities. His coaching career began as an Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach but quickly moved to Head Women’s Basketball Coach where he coached at both Kennesaw State and Auburn University’s. Tilley came to TMU in 1975 and coached women’s basketball for 10 years (until 1985) winning many regional and state championships, and to date, the only National Championship title for the TMU Women’s Basketball Team in 1980. Tilley has also been recognized with many accomplishments and awards throughout his coaching career, including, Coach of the Year more than 15 times and elected in to the Northeast Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and Auburn University at Montgomery Sports Hall of Fame. Tilley has two children, Jason and Sarah, and three grandchildren. He is also a member of Summit Baptist Church.

A business with a heart for Christian education: Victory Processing

Owners Johnny Young, Todd Reese, Todd Robson and Phillip Jones of Victory Processing have had quite an impact on TMU over the years. Located in Gainesville, Ga., the chicken plant has, over the course of five years, donated more than $450,000 to a number of ministries, building projects and scholarships to the university. They have likewise started the first Hispanic endowed scholarship named after one of the first Christian martyrs. The Victory Processing business continues to thrive with more than 1,750 employees and processing over 5 million pounds of chicken per week. Just recently, Victory Processing was honored as the 2017 Best Large Business in Hall County by the Hall County Chamber of Commerce.

A servant’s heart: Gloria Sutton

With almost 40 years (Aug. 1978) of employment at Truett McConnell, Gloria Sutton has held positions as Assistant to the Controller, Business Office Clerk, Switchboard Operator, Safety Officer, and currently, Mail Room and Copy Center Manager. Sutton has also been the TMU representative for the past 17 years for the White County Kiwanis Club. Sutton and her husband, Phineas “Snap” Sutton, who have been married for 51 years, have one son Maurice, one step-daughter Shirley, and two adopted daughters Christine and Almah. The two also have 10 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren, and 1 great-great grandchild. All of her life, she and Snap have attended St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Cleveland, where they are the longest living members. The beloved wife and mother is well-known throughout the halls of TMU and serves a much more powerful purpose – a faithful follower of the Lord, and a friend to all.

Following a standing ovation with exuberant cheers and applause from the crowd, Caner responded, “What is most important to Truett McConnell, since our inception as a school, is that we were brought here by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.”


Jenny Gregory is the Digital Content Specialist for Marketing and Communications at Truett McConnell University.

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