magazine-category: Alumni

Mentors, Barrier Breakers and Second Chances

Kitty Hoyle

Growing up in Boiling Springs, N.C., Distinguished Alumna, Kitty Hamrick Hoyle’s backyard was Gardner-Webb University. The youngest daughter of Wellington “Wellie” and Margie McCluney Hamrick, Hoyle remembers swimming in the GWU pool and attending church at Boiling Springs Baptist, which once stood where Dover Chapel is now.

“I care about Gardner-Webb. It is very much like home to me.”

Kitty Hamrick Hoyle, ’15, BS in Business Administration

Her father started his precast concrete business in 1963 less than a mile from campus, and some of the land owned by her great-grandfather Noah Hamrick now belongs to the University. The Hamricks also supported GWU athletics; her father’s cousin, “Red” Jack Jolley, played football and is in the Gardner-Webb Athletics Hall of Fame. Her mother was a nurse at Royster Memorial Hospital (now a residence hall). Her sisters (Nancy Wages and Lou Ann Slater) and cousin (Ann Lancaster) graduated from Gardner-Webb when it was a junior college. And, Lou Ann helped with fundraising to build the not-for-profit Crawley Memorial Hospital (now the College of Health Sciences).

Hoyle also received a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Gardner-Webb, but not until 2015. When she started on the path to earn her bachelor’s, she had been president of her father’s business, Wellington Hamrick Inc., for two decades. In an industry dominated by men, she had proven herself and gained the respect of customers and leaders in the field.

Hoyle is thankful for her parents and others in her life who guided her and gave her a chance to develop her skills and strengths.

After high school, she went to college to pursue her interest in art, but at the end of her second year felt she wasn’t on the right path. She withdrew from college in the 1970s and came back home. Her cousin, Gerald Lipscomb of Lipscomb Signs in Forest City, N.C., offered her a job, but more importantly, he was a mentor who shared common sense advice about networking and making an impression. She remembered what Lipscomb said after seeing her at an auction with her dad. “He told me, ‘Your dad was talking to these men and you just turned around and walked off,’ and he said, ‘Don’t do that. You need to get in that conversation and stay in that conversation,’” she related. “So he really turned a lightbulb on for me.”

Eventually, she came to work for her father. “I enjoyed being outside, and my mind and my dad’s mind worked in a similar fashion,” she reflected. “What was a good strength for him also turned out to be good for me. Dad was a welder and built everything from scratch. He had friends who were very resourceful—electricians and plumbers and all of these guys who were part of that greatest generation.”

She continued, “I was the parts runner, so when they built something they would say, ‘Go get a cylinder block bearing or this shaft.’ I would go to Dixie Industrial and wait for roller bearings and solenoids. I had so much fun doing that.”

Her father purchased two ready-mix concrete trucks in 1985, and she learned to make concrete. “For decades, the community and customers who were well versed in the trade, taught me about concrete, and what they needed to have good job performance; they put us on the map,” she asserted. “One of those good customers was Raleigh Humphries, who had worked all over several states. I am so grateful for those people, so I’m a product of this very immediate area.”

When she took over the company in 1989, her office was near the road and easily accessible to people in the community. “Those friends of mom and dad were very generous to me,” she acknowledged. “They used to just stop and come in and ask questions and talk to me.”

In 1993, she married Marvin Hoyle of Lawndale, owner of Marvin Hoyle Construction. Their talents and strengths complement each other. “Marvin respects my opinion, and we collaborate well together,” she praised. “His partnership has been instrumental in the success of the company. And he gave me the license to focus on work.”

Marvin helped design and construct a new building in Boiling Springs, and managed the project in 2004, when the company expanded to open a ready-mix plant in Shelby, N.C.

Kitty was recognized in 2005 with The ATHENA Leadership Award®, which is presented to a woman or man for professional excellence, community service and for actively assisting women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills. She was honored and humbled to be included in this group of Cleveland County leaders.

Because of Hoyle’s confident demeanor, many people were surprised to discover she had not finished her degree at that time. “During a conversation with Shannon Kennedy, GWU alumna, and then vice president at Cleveland Community College (CCC), Hoyle learned that her old college credits were still valid. Kennedy guided her through the enrollment process, and Hoyle earned her associate’s degree in 2011. Standing in line at the CCC graduation ceremony, the woman next to her explained that she was already taking classes at Gardner- Webb and highly recommended the Degree Completion Program.

Hoyle thought about what the woman said and decided the timing was right to pursue her bachelor’s degree at Gardner-Webb. “It was really helpful to have an advisor who knew me and my objective,” she stated. “Everything I learned was so useful at work. As I sat through those classes, whatever the topic was, I always applied it in my mind to my work.”

While the concepts were immediately helpful in running the business, she was also grateful for her education when she sold the ready-mix business in 2018 and the rest of the business in July 2022, retiring after 33 years at the helm. “To put together everything they wanted me to do and talk to them in an intelligent manner—that would have been harder to do without some of the formal education I received at Gardner-Webb,” Hoyle asserted.

Now, she is honored to serve on the GWU Board of Trustees, and through the years, she has served on several boards in the community: Cleveland County Arts Council, Broad River Greenway, Life Enrichment Center, Cleveland Community College (Gov. Beverly Purdue’s appointee), Isothermal “I care about Gardner-Webb. It is very much like home to me.” Kitty Hamrick Hoyle, ’15, BS in Business Administration VOLUME 57, 2022 | 47 Community Block Grant Board, and Carolinas Ready Mix Concrete Association Board.

Her parents instilled in her the importance of giving back to the community. She has established three scholarships for Gardner-Webb students in memory of her parents and cousin, Elizabeth Ann Lancaster. The Elizabeth Ann Lancaster Scholarship is presented to a Cleveland County student who intends to pursue a career as a teacher in the public school system. “Ann, our older cousin, was a nearby fixture in our extended family,” Hoyle shared.

“She always wanted the best for girls and gave her love without the need for anything in return. She was a dedicated teacher for 41 years in Cleveland County and gave many hours of service to Boiling Springs Baptist Church in music and education positions.”

The Margie McCluney Hamrick Nursing Scholarship salutes Hoyle’s mother; she was the only child in her family to take professional training, graduating from the Shelby Hospital School of Nursing in the Cadet Corps in 1948. Margie spent most of her career as an R.N. on the staff at Royster Memorial Hospital in Boiling Springs and escorted the first patient into the new community-funded Crawley Hospital in the 1970s. When she was in her 60s, Margie traveled as a medical professional to Togo, Africa.

The Wellington Hamrick Scholarship is awarded to first-year female students in Cleveland County who plan to study math and science, engineering, architecture, construction related or construction trades, or technical programs related to construction materials.

“Dad was involved in many businesses over his lifetime usually more than one at a time,” Hoyle reflected. “He had a wonderful sense of and love for the beauty of nature. He cared for his community and church and served both in a quiet way. He was my mentor when my life wasn’t going so well. He allowed me to have a place to work and to grow. He restored some of my self-esteem and taught me to be forgiving and appreciative of others. Looking back on it now, I realize how keenly he perceived what I needed and how expertly he filled my needs and directed me toward the light.”

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