March 10-16, 2016
Board of Directors expands.
The board of directors expands to include Pat’s eldest daughter, Jessica Conroy (each of Pat’s four daughters will serve in rotating, consecutive terms on the board), and Pat’s friends, the poet and novelist Ron Rash, and Roland Gardner, the CEO of the Beaufort-Jasper-Hampton Comprehensive Health Services, who became friends with Pat in high school when they heard Martin Luther King speak at the Penn Center; it was a friendship that continued for the rest of their lives. Esther Shaver was asked to serve as treasurer.
The first member of the Honorary Board is writer John Grisham. When news of Pat’s diagnosis went public, Grisham generously agreed to fulfill his friend Pat’s commitment to speak at the University of Nebraska in his stead. Grisham goes on to agree to become the first member of our honorary board; iconic singer, actor, and director Barbra Streisand, who became a good friend to Pat during the filming of his novel The Prince of Tides, joins us without hesitation, as does Charles Gibson of ABC’s News and Good Morning America, who came to know Pat as a friend after interviewing both Conroy and his father “The Great Santini” many times.
March 18, 2016
Legal Papers are filed for the Center to become a recognized non-profit organization.
With the guidance of Pat’s Citadel classmate, Beaufort lawyer Scott Graber and the law firm of D.C. Gilley, and with help from his associate Caitlin Reid, on March 19, 2016 Pat Conroy Literary Center is incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization after we apply to be recognized by the US Internal Revenue Service. Ann McDuff, a CPA, is brought on board.
The Pat Conroy Literary Center registers for non-profit organization status in the State of South Carolina
April 5, 2016
First Board Meeting.
The Board of Directors and Officers meet for the first time to determine a basic mission for the Pat Conroy Literary Center and to establish a timeline for launching the Center. They also set a budget and outline the Center’s priorities in the coming months.
May 1, 2016
The office of the Center is set up in Billy Keyserling’s 308 Charles Street house, which officially becomes our first home.
May – June 9th 2016
Board member Mihai Radulescu, working with content support from his partner Marly Rusoff, oversees the creation and launches the Center’s website and Facebook page.
We begin the laborious process of registering as a nonprofit across the country.
June 9, 2016
Associated Press runs story on the Center.
NEW YORK (AP) — Barbra Streisand and John Grisham are among the honorary board members for a facility dedicated to the late Pat Conroy that plans to open in the fall of 2016.
The Pat Conroy Literary Center will be based in Beaufort, South Carolina, where the author known for such novels as “The Prince of Tides” and “The Great Santini” lived for many years. His publisher, Doubleday, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the center will host readings, lectures and book groups; offer workshops and scholarships; and help facilitate other educational programs.
Conroy’s widow, author Cassandra King, and literary agent, Marly Rusoff, are leading the effort to launch the nonprofit center, www.patconroyliterarycenter.org , currently relying on private donations.
Conroy, a former English teacher in Beaufort, died earlier this year at age 70.
June 9, 2016
Mihai Radulescu begins online donor campaign on the Center’s web site. He reaches most of those who communicated with Pat Conroy over the years…
The first donation comes in at 9:22 a.m. from Nancy and Peter Larsen of Muscle Shoals, AL.
We begin receiving donations from friends, readers, teachers, other writers and Conroy fans from across the country to help fund the start-up, with the goal of raising funds to secure our home, to hire an executive director and to begin to develop programming, including classes, workshops, possible scholarships and special events.
June 14, 2016
Advisory Board is formed.
Cassandra King begins creating an advisory board. The growing list of names can be found on our website.
June 16, 2016
The Board meets at 308 Charles Street, our first home.
June 27, 2016
Jane Upshaw, Ph.D., Distinguished Chancellor Emerita of the University of South Carolina Beaufort is asked to join the Board.
July 19, 2016
We receive our Federal 501(c)(3) status from the Internal Revenue Service.
July 30, 2016
In light of her extraordinary leadership ability, Jane Upshaw is named Board Chair; the Honorary Board expanded.
Jane Upshaw is named our new Chair, with Cassandra King as honorary Chair.
The Honorary Board expands to include bestselling novelist Dorothea Benton Frank; chairman of Ingram Industries, executive and philanthropist Martha R. Ingram; and from Charleston, Zoe and Judge Alexander Saunders, Sallie Duell, and Susan Ravenel, all friends of Pat Conroy, and all with experience serving on boards of nonprofit cultural institutions
August 5, 2016
Award-winning novelist and Conroy’s dear friend Janis Owens agreed to host Porch Talk, the online blog for the Pat Conroy Literary Center’s website, which will go active later in the year.
September 4, 2016
Decatur Book Festival in Atlanta is dedicated to Pat Conroy.
Cassandra King speaks about the Center at the Decatur Book Festival in Atlanta. The festival is dedicated to Pat Conroy’s memory.
September 15-17, 2016
Independent Booksellers Meet and Honor Conroy’s contribution.
The Southern Independent Booksellers Meeting (SIBA) honors Pat Conroy by naming all of the 2015 book awards in all categories for this year in his honor, an idea that comes from director Wanda Jewell. Booksellers meet to discuss ways to support the Center, led by bookseller and advisory board member, Vicki Crafton of Litchfield Books, Pawley Island, SC.
September 26, 2016
The board meets in Beaufort and votes to add three new Directors to the board.
They include: Valerie Sayers, Victoria Smalls and Deborah Smith. Valeria is a former student of Pat’s at Beaufort High who went on to become a renowned academic serving as a professor of Creative Writing and former department chair of English at Notre Dame. Victoria Smalls is director of development and community relations at the prestigious Penn Center on Saint Helena’s Island. Deborah Smith, the recently retired Director of the Newberry Opera House, who is highly praised for her organizational, strategic planning, and fundraising skills; she knew Pat through his support of the Opera House. (see them on the Board of Directors page)
October 20-24th, 2016
The First Annual Pat Conroy Literary Festival opens in Beaufort at USCB.
The Pat Conroy Festival takes place in Beaufort, SC. It’s sponsored by the University of South Carolina, with many of the writers Pat published on his Story River imprint of the University of South Carolina in attendance. Panels, lectures, and luncheons draw hundreds of Conroy fans from across the country.
Pat’s longtime friend Bernie Schein and his daughter Maggie Schein offer an extremely popular bus tour of Beaufort area sites important to the Pat Conroy story. Conroy’s artist daughter Melissa Conroy provides the Center with a hand drawn map of important Conroy locations so tourists can experience the tour Pat often conducted for friends who came to visit his beloved Lowcountry. Many attendees privately visit Pat’s gravesite on Saint Helena’s Island.
October 21, 2016
The Pat Conroy Literary Center opens its doors to the Public.
The opening of the center at 308 Charles. People in the front yard looking at the front porch where Cassandra King Conroy and Mihai Radulescu addressed them. Left to right David and Stephanie Dyer, Pat Denkler mom Shirley, husband Mike Harris, Marly Rusoff and Mike Conroy
Hundreds gathered for the “Soft” opening of the Pat Conroy Literary Center and first public gathering at our home in the historic house located at 308 Charles Street, beautifully prepared for by volunteers Maura Connelly, Patricia Denkler, Kathy Harvey, Esther Shaver, Will Balk and Sean Henrickson. Supporters travel from as far away as California to be with us.
Mihai Radulescu welcomes the crowd and introduces Rev. John Coffey who blesses the house. Cassandra King then speaks about the mission of the Center. Many go inside to view the two-room exhibit of Conroy materials from the USC Libraries’ Conroy Archive and family collections, including Pat Conroy’s writing desk, the flight jacket of his father (“the Great Santini”), and miscellaneous letters, papers, and photographs. Pat’s brother Tim and sister Kathy Harvey worked closely with the Pat Conroy archivist Jessica Crouch of the University of South Carolina in putting together the exhibit which promises to be the first of many. Local businesses generously donate services, from food and wine, to flowers and banners. Student volunteers from the Technical College of the Lowcountry under the guidance of Advisory Board Sean Henrickson, help make the evening a huge success.
October 22, 2016
Jonathan Haupt is named as first Executive Director.
Jonathan Haupt at the podium then Jane Upshaw, Mihai Radulescu, Marly Rusoff and Roland Garden. Farther to the right on the stage are the other board members: Billy Keyserling, Jessica Conroy, Esther Shaver and Tim Conroy
The first annual Pat Conroy Festival ends with an auditorium full of people eager to hear about plans for the Center’s future from Cassandra King, who recognized the twenty members of the advisory board and introduced the dozen members of the board of directors who gathered on stage for Chair Jane Upshaw’s special announcement. The crowd cheers at the news that The Pat Conroy Literary Center has hired our first executive director, Pat’s partner in Story River Press imprint and his friend, Jonathan Haupt.
Haupt’s directorship at USC Press has been defined by a consistent commitment to serving the interests of writers and readers in and beyond the South. In Upshaw’s introduction, she says, “In our discussions of what the Center needed, we wanted someone with experience in literary arts leadership—a person who was creative and innovative with programming, marketing, and communication. We needed a builder who dreamed big but could translate those dreams into reality. We hoped to find someone who knew Pat personally and understood the magnitude of the opportunity of the Center. It was a daunting task, but I am very happy to share with you this evening that we have found just the right person with all of those qualities in Jonathan Haupt.” The audience is clearly enthusiastic and gives Jonathan a rousing standing ovation. He will begin on December 1, 2016.
October 24-29th, 2016
Independent Booksellers across the country, led by Wanda Jewell, Executive Director of SIBA, and bookseller Vicki Crafton of Pawley’s Island Books, participate in Pat Conroy Week fundraising promotions for the Center, distributing brochures, along with in-store displays, online events and creative promotions to help raise money in support of the Pat Conroy Literary Center.
October 25, 2016
Nan A. Talese Doubleday publishes Pat’s A LOWCOUNTRY HEART: Reflections on the Writing Life, a book of miscellaneous speeches, essays, and letters by Conroy, with an introduction by Cassandra King.
October 26, 2016
Pat Conroy’s Birthdate is declared National PAT CONROY DAY by Random House.
Social media campaign raises additional funds for the Center.
Cassandra King appears at fundraiser for the Center hosted by Jake Reiss of The Alabama Booksmith in Birmingham, Al. A copy of A Lowcountry Heart signed by honorary board member Barbra Streisand is sold at auction for $2,250.