news-category: Alumni

Celebrating Alumni – Lifelong Learner, Centenarian Gladys Brooks Boroughs

100-year-old Lives Out the Gardner-Webb Mission

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Students are the focus of Gardner-Webb University’s mission. Faculty members seek to engage students with unique, experiential learning opportunities to prepare them for their next steps. Whether they choose to begin a career or accept the academic challenges of graduate school, students are equipped with the knowledge and skills to lead and serve. Additionally, through GWU’s supportive and diverse Christian community, students are inspired to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others.

Gladys Brooks Boroughs, who turned 100 on Dec. 28, 2022, has dedicated her life to living out the Gardner-Webb mission. She is a former GWU trustee, and she and her husband established a scholarship through the Christian Service Organization.

Her daughter, Elaine Boroughs McRae, emphasizes that her mother is a lifelong learner, living every day to the fullest. As an example, Gladys and her dear friend, Maida Green Scruggs, are planning a Zoom call so they can catch up and reminisce. Incidentally, Maida is the wife of the late Horace Scruggs, brother of renowned banjo player Earl Scruggs, who are Gladys’ first cousins. Horace, who died in 2007, worked in GWU plant operations for 29 years.

About her mother, daughter Elaine says, “A finer role model I couldn’t have! Her wit and wisdom continue, and I’m so blessed to call this saint, ‘Mom.’ Happy 100th to my best friend of all times! I love you, Mom.”

Born in 1922 in Cleveland County, N.C., Gladys was the middle child with six older and six younger siblings. A child of the depression, her family lost two farms, yet somehow managed to provide a college education to many of their children. Gladys graduated as valedictorian of her high school class and was a marshal when she graduated from Gardner-Webb in 1942. She majored in English and was hired by the FBI to edit documents during World War II, serving under the FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

It was in Washington, D.C., where she met the love of her life, Lewis Boroughs, also a North Carolinian, from Seagrove. The couple relocated to Greensboro, N.C., when Lewis joined Burlington Industries as a lawyer. Gladys, who still lives in Greensboro, took her job as mother and corporate wife seriously, managing the household while her husband worked many weekdays in New York city.

Gladys was known for her involvement at First Baptist Church of Greensboro, her commitment to her children, and for civic engagement. In the church, she held about every position imaginable from deacon chair, to serving on the Women’s Missionary Union to Sunday school teacher, and chairing just about every committee (at least once) through the decades. She was also a devoted member of The General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GWFC) and founding member of Sedgefield Woman’s Club. In 1987, she became North Carolina State President of GWFC.

When her husband retired, the couple traveled the world, often in the capacity of serving a Baptist mission. Chile, the Orient, and the Holy Land were some of the places they experienced. Gladys is a talented wood carver, with a special interest in carving birds. Throughout her younger years, she was constantly creating something with her hands; quilting, tatting, crocheting, and knitting were special skills. She is a talented pianist who learned to play by ear.

Source: Greensboro Daily Photo

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