$1 Million Gift Names Electric Supply Company Field at Barton College

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WILSON, N.C. — May 16, 2019 — Barton College is pleased to announce the naming of Electric Supply Company Field, the newly completed multi-purpose synthetic turf field on campus. Electric Supply Company, one of the Southeast’s largest suppliers of electrical equipment, has made a $1 million lead gift to Barton College, securing naming rights for the field. The family-owned company was established by the late K.D. Kennedy more than six decades ago in Wilson, and later expanded into seven locations across the state under the leadership of Kennedy’s son, Dr. K.D. Kennedy, Jr. The Kennedys have been long-time supporters of the College, including three generations of leadership on the College’s Board of Trustees.

“We are honored that this new field carries the name of Electric Supply Company,” shared Dr. Douglas N. Searcy, president of Barton College. “It’s fitting that a lead gift for this facility comes from the Kennedy family — a family with which the College has enjoyed a longstanding relationship, a family that has chosen to embrace important moments in Barton’s life with a commitment to developing facilities and programs, all which have resulted as game changers for campus and community. The synthetic turf field is no exception.

“We are most grateful for this major gift from the Kennedy family and Electric Supply Company, as it paves the way for additional gifts from other donors for continuing opportunities within the proposed stadium, which will solidify this facility’s use for the campus and community,” Dr. Searcy continued. “Completing the first phase of construction will be the addition of a parking lot adjacent to green space and a plaza-scape surrounding the field. The second phase will include additional naming opportunities with the construction of the stadium, complete with spectator stands, a press box, concession, and rest rooms.”

Men’s and women’s lacrosse teams reaped the benefits of the synthetic field earlier this spring, with victories on the new field by both teams, as faculty, staff, students, alumni, and members of the community cheered them on to success. And, the soccer teams welcomed their opportunities for spring practice on the new field as well.

The multi-purpose synthetic turf field has boosted the vibrancy at Barton, as the campus community has embraced the close proximity of the field with the opportunity for tailgate events on-site. “Faculty, staff and students regularly comment about the use of the field and how they sense a higher level of energy coming from the core of the campus,” Dr. Searcy continued. “I’ve been pleased to hear from alumni and community members who recognize the quality of this new facility and how it matches the quality of the institution — quality that’s evidenced through academic and co-curricular program excellence and the faculty and staff’s commitment to our students. For me, it’s incredibly exciting to see Barton excel in myriad ways through our delivery of the Barton Experience for our students.”

About Electric Supply Company and the Kennedy Family’s Commitment to Barton College — 

The late K.D. Kennedy, who built Electric Supply Company in Wilson from the ground up more than 60 years ago, served as a longtime trustee on the Barton College Board of Trustees and was later elected a trustee emeritus. His son, Dr. K.D. Kennedy, Jr., now chief executive officer of Electric Supply Company and also a longtime trustee on the Board, served five years as chair of the College’s Board of Trustees and was later elected a trustee emeritus. He also was honored by Barton in 2008 with an honorary Doctor of  Humane Letters degree. Now, grandson Ken Kennedy III currently sits on the College’s Board of Trustees, while serving as president of the Electric Supply Company. Each generation has provided significant leadership and service to the College.

A Southern gentleman known for his candor and integrity, Dr. Kennedy embodies the essence of philanthropy. He has generously shared his time and creative energy, in addition to financial resources, to encourage growth and sustainability at the College. As chair for the Campaign for Barton — Enriching the Tradition, he set the tone for giving with his own million-dollar gift, and he eventually led that fund-raising effort well beyond its original goal. His family was honored with the naming of the Kennedy Recreation and Intramural Center in 1997, a major brick and mortar component of the campaign. He and his wife, Sara Lynn Kennedy, made a significant contribution for the construction of the Bruce W. Riley Plaza, honoring Mrs. Kennedy’s father and former Barton trustee Bruce W. Riley. Dr. Kennedy also endowed the Sara Lynn Kennedy Recording Studio on campus, in honor of his wife, and he established the Dorothy and K.D. Kennedy Endowed Chair of Business in the Barton College School of Business, honoring his parents, Dorothy and K.D. Kennedy. Diligent in raising awareness and funds for the $21 million Centennial Campaign for Barton College, Dr. Kennedy also led the College’s Black Box Theatre Campaign effort with a naming gift for the Kennedy Family Theatre. The establishment of the K.D. Kennedy, Jr. Rare Book Room in the Willis N. Hackney Library was among the latest gifts to the College prior to the naming of Electric Supply Company Field. A driving force over the last three decades, Dr. Kennedy’s dedication and commitment to higher education have significantly enhanced the life of Barton College. With deep roots in this community, Electric Supply Company and the Kennedy family have distinguished themselves as leaders and benefactors with vision across eastern and central North Carolina.     

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