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Carolina-Canada Connections

January 22, 2019

Carolina-Canada Connections — Vol. 10, No. 13

A monthly outreach to our friends in Canada

Wilkins Award

Faithful Carolina-Canada Connections readers know that every January the movers and shakers across South Carolina come together for the David H. Wilkins Leadership Awards by Furman University’s Riley Institute. 

The awards ceremony and massive dinner event, held in the shadow of the historic South Carolina State House the evening before the General Assembly returns to session, honors one legislator and one civic leader who regularly exhibits qualities of civility, integrity, compassion, vision, and courage.  (The award is obviously named after your former US ambassador to Canada who was the longtime speaker of the SC House and a representative for 25 years before resigning to accept the diplomatic post in Ottawa in 2005.)   

And so it was on Tuesday January 8, Team Wilkins attended the dinner where state Senator John W. Matthews, Jr. (District 39, Orangeburg) received the Legislative Leadership Award and Charlotte Berry, lifetime philanthropist and community leader, received the Award for Civic Leadership. 

SC businesswoman Pamela Evette became the state’s lieutenant governor this month – her inauguration marked the first time South Carolina’s candidates for governor and lieutenant governor were elected as a team. Here she is the day before the big day with your former US ambassador to Canada at the Wilkins Award Dinner.

David Wilkins in the house!

Susan Shi, Ted Riley, Susan and David Wilkins enjoy the evening’s festivities.   

In years past, the Wilkins Award Dinner has attracted many formidable keynote speakers including former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in 2008.  Last month Mulroney offered a poignant eulogy at the national memorial service for President George H.W. Bush.

(Editor’s note:  Wilkins had to hightail it to Columbia to make it in time for the dinner named in his honor after flying in from California that afternoon.  He and Susan were in Santa Clara for a lil sporting event – you may have heard something about the 2018 National College Football Championship??? You KNOW we have more on that below…keep on keeping on…)

I Swear!

The next day, David and Susan Wilkins were honored to attend various events celebrating the inauguration of South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster and Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette including the public swearing-in-ceremony on the steps of the SC State House and the inaugural ball at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center later that evening. 

I Do!

On Thursday, December 27, 2018 the Wilkins family got a whole lot bigger and better with the “I dos” of David and Susan’s son, James Wilkins to Hope Meeks.  And even better, Hope has two little ones, Woodson and Annie, that are already a part of the Wilkins’ clan and join their new cousins, twins Whit and Clary, as beloved Wilkins grandchildren. 

Filled with Hope and love!  A family pose with the new Mr. and Mrs. James Wilkins! 

They Said What

  • “Dear Madame Speaker: Due to the Shutdown, I am sorry to inform you that your trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan has been postponed. We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the Shutdown is over. In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate. I also feel that, during this period, it would be better if you were in Washington negotiating with me and joining the Strong Border Security movement to end the Shutdown. Obviously, if you would like to make your journey by flying commercial, that would certainly be your prerogative,” – President Donald Trump in a letter to speaker Nancy Pelosi last week cancelling a trip abroad she was leading of Democrat lawmakers. 
  • “This group of bureaucrats reports to no one in elected authority. In a Justice Department where employees gave 97 percent of their presidential campaign contributions to Hillary Clinton, the hostility toward – and fear of – newly elected President Trump was deep.  The senior members of the Justice Department (all promoted under the Obama administration) were clearly prepared to go all-out to repudiate the verdict of the American people in the 2016 election.  Further, these were Justice Department bureaucrats who had ignored the Clinton Foundation scandals, minimized the investigation into the Clinton email and Internet scandal, and ignored former President Clinton collecting money from Russians overseas while his wife was secretary of state.  Suddenly, these hitherto passive, dispassionate, and tolerant ‘law enforcement’ bureaucrats were galvanized into investigating a president for possible treason,” – former House Speaker Newt Gingrich writing on a leaked New York Times report he says highlights the disturbing anti-Trump bias at the FBI and DOJ.    
  • “My first official act as a private citizen after 8 years in public service....downloaded @Uber,” – former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley on Twitter regarding her new, private life.
  • “I want to close and I really want to give this perspective to our team, and really anyone who is listening, this is a quote, the whole college football world was captured by Tyler Trent.  He was the Purdue football fan that was battling cancer. Probably saw that, and he just passed recently. And here’s what he said, he put out a quote: ‘Though I am in hospice care and have to wake up every morning knowing that the day might be my last, I still have a choice to make, to make that day the best it can be. Yet, isn’t that a choice we all have every day? After all, nobody knows the amount of days we have left. Some could say we are all in hospice to a certain degree. So why don’t we act like it?’” – Clemson Head Football Coach Dabo Swinney celebrating Clemson’s championship win at the White House and honoring the memory of Tyler Trent known by sports fans for his tireless devotion to Perdue football and his positive attitude and great grace in waging a courageous battle against bone cancer.  Tyler was 20 when he passed away. 
  • “After disemboweling the Alabama Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, these Clemson Tigers can at least make a claim to the title of ‘best team ever,’" – Sports Illustrated Senior Writer Andy Staples.

Buh Bye Bama!

Relish the numbers if you will please:  44–16. That’s the final score, or better said, the “annihilation of ALABAMA” at the hands of Clemson for the 2018 National College Football Championship!  (Editor’s note: That’s how Sports Illustrated (SI) described it by the way, but we certainly added the emphasis on ALABAMA, just sayin’.)

The “annihilation of ALABAMA” (yay!) makes Wilkins’ beloved Clemson Tigers football team the first top rated college team to go 15-0 since the University of Pennsylvania Quakers did it waaaayyy back in 1897!   (And did you hear that Clemson beat, no, wait, brutalized ALABAMA!)  

Well, like Coach Swinney likes to say, “the fun is in the winning” and besting ALABAMA 44-16 is F-U-N y’all! 

The Tide has claimed five of the previous nine national titles but there’s a new boss at top and with the Tigers’ hotshot freshman signal caller, Trevor Lawrence, on board for at least two more years, it’s hard to argue that anyone but Clemson now owns the top program in the country.

As SI put it after Clemson’s amazing rout of Alabama, “When the confetti shower was over, the night felt like the start of something even bigger than a single national championship party. It was a moment that had been 10 years in the making.”

The epic game was played in Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.  And of course, David and Susan were there with a few thousand other devoted Clemson fans who made the cross-country trek to watch their Tigers beat up ALABAMA for the second time in three years!

Diplomatic Doings!  David and Susan were joined by former US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (also a Clemson alum) and her husband Michael.

So former Heisman winner turned pro-baseball player and all-around great guy (and newly engaged!) Tim Tebow did predict pregame that Alabama would beat Clemson based on the strength of Alabama’s QB. So he’s not totally perfect!

You gotta believe that when you’re James Clements and the president of Clemson University and the football team keeps bringing home Natty trophies – there’s a lot to smile about!

To win the Natty, the Tigers first had to wrap up 2018 with a bowl win and last year certainly ended on high cotton for the Wilkins family down in Texas where David, Susan, their son Robert and 10-year-old grandson Whit were on hand to witness Clemson’s thrashing of Notre Dame in the Cotton Bowl, December 29.

Three generations of Tiger fans! David, Whit and Robert Wilkins get ready to watch the Tigers demolish Notre Dame.

The 30-3 score against Notre Dame put the Tigers 2018 record at a perfect 14-0 and set up the Clemson-Alabama championship game. 

Winning at the White House

Last week, the National Champs braved the snow for an evening visit with President Trump.  Of course, your former US ambassador to Canada was right there with them

A Disney prince and a diplomat?  Nah!  It’s Clemson’s star QB Trevor Lawrence and David Wilkins posing outside the Oval Office.

"The university is appreciative of the opportunity to participate in this time-honored White House tradition for the second time in three years as we celebrate Clemson's commitment to excellence on and off the playing field, and our football team's record-setting 2018 football season,” according to official word from Clemson. 

For several players on this year’s championship team, the trip to the White House was their second go round, including wide receiver Hunter Renfrow.  (The Tigers were at the White House in June 2017 after they won that NCAA championship in January 2017 in a 35-31 victory over Alabama.) 

And speaking of Renfrow (the star of the 2016 Championship game who caught the game winning touchdown in the last second of that game) here he is with Wilkins:

Star Clemson receiver Hunter Renfrow and Wilkins bask in the glow of the White House.

The estimable Coach Brent Venables – the Tigers defensive coordinator – and Wilkins.

Wilkins, Coach Dabo Swinney and Congressman Jeff Duncan enjoy the White House digs.

Contrary to the negative reporting by some in the mainstream media and professional pundits, the Tigers enjoyed both the food and the fellowship afforded to them during their visit and deeply appreciated the time they spent in the Oval Office.  

“The team loved it. The families loved it, and everyone was so hospitable and welcoming in the White House. It’s a pretty cool tradition that the National Champions get to visit the White House,” Clemson football’s assistant for defensive player development Miguel Chavis wrote in a Facebook post. “People can politicize anything. Today and tonight wasn’t about politics, political parties, presidents or what divides us. Tonight was about a group of young men being honored for their extraordinary feat and their unbelievable character. Congrats boys; y’all deserve it!” Chavis wrote.