Long-time Professor, Alumna Veda Sprouse Passes Away
Posted on: March 9, 2022
Tigerville, SC (March 9, 2022) Dr. Veda Nelle Bagwell Sprouse (’45), passed away on Thursday, March 3, 2022, at the age of 95. Sprouse taught English, British, and American literature at North Greenville University (NGU) for almost half a century.
“Since word of Dr. Sprouse’s passing came to us, I have had countless former students message me to make sure I knew how much she had meant to them. She was beloved and this was exceeded only by her love for her students, which was reflected in high standards but also in intentional integration of her faith with her dedication to excellence,” said NGU President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr. “Her former office in White Hall still echoes with decades’ worth of conversations, mentoring, and discipleship that changed lives. Her legacy is incredible here in Tigerville.”
Affectionately known as Veda, she was born in southern Greenville County to John Edward Bagwell and Dora Corine Thompson Bagwell and was married to the late Eugene Belton Sprouse. She completed grade school in the Harmony community of Laurens County, near Fountain Inn. She came to North Greenville in 1943 from Fountain Inn High School.
As a freshman, Veda took English under Harlee Cooper, who became a cherished friend. According to a story in the October 1979 issue of North Greenville College Alumni Newsletter, Cooper “made an indelible impression on her life, and many who knew them both said as long as Veda Sprouse was alive, Cooper’s memory would remain alive. Like Cooper, Veda was soft-spoken and dainty, precise but not prissy, quiet but not bashful, and intelligent but never a know-it-all.”
Veda received an associate’s degree from North Greenville in 1945 as an honor graduate. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Black Mountain College, and a master’s degree from Duke University. She completed further graduate work at Winthrop University. In 2000, North Greenville awarded her the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree.
Sprouse began her teaching career in the Georgetown County schools in 1948. She returned to the foothills to teach English for four years at Travelers Rest High School. After a year in the Lexington County Schools, she returned to the North Greenville campus in 1955, where she taught full-time for 35 years and as an adjunct for 13 years.
“Veda was an elegant lady and dressed immaculately. She loved literature, her students, and North Greenville,” said Dr. Cathy Sepko, retired dean of the College of Humanities and English professor.
She served as advisor for the Aurora yearbook and the E.Q.V. Literacy Society, chairperson of the Humanities Division, and chairperson of the Special Academic Programs. She was presented the first Faculty Achievement Award in 1979 for outstanding educational achievement over years of exceptional service.
According to the 1979 article, “Veda learned her subject well and taught it effectively. Her commitment to Christ and her church was deep and genuine. She put her faith into practice in and out of the classroom. Her ‘thought for the day’ and prayer time had a tremendous effect on the lives and work of many alumni. Many of her former students have expressed their gratitude for her firmness and Christian witness in the classroom.”
The Sprouse’s lived in Greenville for 24 years and were active members of Sans Souci Baptist Church, where she taught the Joy Sunday School Class.
A graveside service will be at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 9, at Woodlawn Memorial Park, 1 Pine Knoll Drive Greenville, SC 29609.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the NGU English Department, North Greenville University, P.O. Box 1892, Tigerville, SC 29688.