The Sayler Family Web Site

 

 

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Alvah and Betty with Wyline, Henry, and
Van on the Chris Dale II
Betty, Dale, and Alvah

 

The following is the section of the book Remember Now Thy Creator in The Days of Thy Youth, The Religious Heritage of The Citadel (by Mike Blackwell) that profiles Alvah Chapman, Jr.   For further information reference the following web site:  http://www.citadelchristianheritage.org/10338


Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,
Colossians 3:23

Ambition in and of itself is not a virtue. Egocentric ambition was not then, nor is it today, the type of ambition that was held up to emulation by those who laid the school’s foundation. One only has to read the attributes of servant leadership to understand the linkage between ambition and those who laid The Citadel’s foundation. This example of ambition is not that of worshiping ego; rather it is to be of service to and help others. It is an ambition not restricted to any single area of an individual’s life. It is the strong desire to perform at the highest level in the military as a cadet or soldier, as well as in academics, athletics, ones family, vocation, and most of all their faith.
As the representative for Ambition, Alvah H. Chapman, Jr., class of 1942 was chosen. As stated previously, it is always fitting an institution to remember its departed, as was done for the others in this chapter. There is also a time, however, to lift up those who are still with us. Chapman’s life is one warrants the bestowing of laurels. He is someone that all cadets and all Alumni can hold up as a role model for today. The Citadel can boast of many distinguished graduates who were ambitious and had successful careers. While it is not possible to place laurel wreaths upon all the individual brows, we can choose one to represent them, and Chapman is worthy of such designation.


Tribute to Alvah H. Chapman, Jr.

Scores have wondered what made Alvah Chapman so successful in every endeavor he pursued. Others have asked where Chapman finds the strength to continue his vigorous schedule. Chapman answered these questions in his own words when he said, “I owe my success to three things: my Christian faith; my wife, Betty; and the leadership training, education and sense of discipline I received at The Citadel.”
Those were the words spoken by Alvah H. Chapman, Jr., during an interview for an article that appeared in The Citadel Magazine in 1999. Chapman recounted those remarks in an impromptu speech given to of group of MBA students at a major university. He did not have a planned speech for the occasion and therefore spoke straight from his heart. Later Chapman said that if had the opportunity to prepare that he would have added a fourth contributing factor to his success which would have been his mother and father, who raised him in a Christian home. Ambitious and successful men and women typically have strong beliefs in which they bestow their trust and their time.
Chapman feels strongly about his beliefs in his Christian faith, which has always been a part of who he is. He believes strongly in and cares deeply for Betty, who has been with him for more than 60 years. Finally, Chapman believes in and gives much credit to The Citadel experience for his success. He cites the leadership training, the education, and sense of discipline he received there as being invaluable to him throughout his career.
Born in Columbus, Georgia, in 1921, he entered The Citadel in 1938 and graduated in 1942. After his service in the War, he returned home to the newspaper business that was in his blood. He was the third generation of his family to be in the business. His illustrious 50-year career is well documented. He arrived in Miami in 1960 and joined the Knight organization, parent company of The Miami Herald. He eventually became chairman, and led a merger to form Knight-Ridder, today the second largest newspaper publisher in the country. Under his direction, the company tripled its corporate revenues, and the papers collectively won 37 Pulitzer Prizes and greatly expanded its world news beats. Shareholders were rewarded with a 23% growth rate over 15 years from the merger to his retirement. He retired in 1989 as Chairman of Knight-Ridder, Inc. but remained active as director and member of the Executive Committee until 2000. Since his retirement, he has been tireless in civic commitments. His standing in the Miami, Florida community might be best summed up by remarks that were made in 2001 by then Mayor Alex Penelas:

Of all the things he has accomplished in his life, the one that stands out the most with me is his work as Chairman of the Community Partnership for the Homeless. His continued commitment and personal leadership resulted in the rescue of thousands of men, women and children. Literally thousands. His unflagging good humor, his diamond-sharp mind, and his endless compassion for those who society has forgotten, makes him very special. One of that rare breed of men, who leaves in his wake an aura of goodness [emphasis added].

Chapman’s commitment to the Community Partnership for the Homeless was a spiritual commitment. In 1991, the Chapman’s were in the process of building a new home and the location required that a new route be taken to work. As Chapman drove the new route, he noticed an area where more than 8,000 homeless people were living. He recalled that his initial reaction was that “surely, with a problem of this magnitude, someone was working on it.” Later investigation revealed that no one was addressing the problem. No one was providing leadership or that had taken ownership of the problem. In the 37th week of a 39 week of a Discipleship Bible Class, he and Betty were attending at First Untied Methodist Church in Coral Gables, Florida, the ownership and leadership problem was resolved. As a part of the class, attendees were asked to make a commitment to a project of Christian service, to “better serve the Lord.” Alvah and Betty chose the homeless.
From that commitment was birthed the Community Partnership for Homeless (CPHI). The CPHI story is one that has received national recognition as one of five cities in America with a plan that is a potential national model. At the time of that commitment,
90% of all homeless seeking shelter in the Miami area were turned down due to lack of space. Today, with the help of local churches, and a private public partnership, Dade County Florida provides funding for shelters, which has assisted thousands with temporary shelter and food. Chapman considers private public partnership a miracle in its own right. At the time of its conception, there was much doubt about whether the Florida legislature would approve a bill whereas a 1% sales tax would be imposed on the sale of food and beverages in the larger restaurants within the county. According to Chapman, prayer meetings were held in various churches throughout the county and the bill passed in the last six minutes of the 1993 legislative session. The Miami-Dade County Commission and the Board of Community Partnership for Homeless unanimously voted to name the first Homeless Assistance Center, the Alvah H. Chapman, Jr., and Betty B. Chapman Center.
When asked why such a passion for the homeless, Chapman responded, “That’s exactly what Jesus would do. Christ came for the least, the last, and the lost.”
Chapman’s name is associated with many great causes within the community. His name is attached to the Betty and Alvah Chapman Conference Center Miami-Dade Community College, Wolfson Campus, and Alvah Chapman Boulevard, a portion of N.E. 15th Street in Miami. In addition, there is The Alvah H. Chapman Jr. Graduate School of Business at Florida International University. His generosity as a philanthropist has earned him a long-standing reputation for supporting what he believes in.
Chapman’s faith has been clearly manifested in his works. When he passed the homeless that day, he did not say a silent prayer of “peace be with you.” Rather, he chose to follow the Biblical mandate found in the book of James, which reads:

 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,
 and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?
Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.


The Citadel

Chapman’s record at The Citadel is commendable, to say the least. As with everything he endeavored to undertake, he did so with excellence. Chapman believes in The Citadel. As is his nature, when he believed in something, he poured everything he had into it. He believed in The Citadel when he entered in 1938, and his accomplishments as a senior in 1942 are recorded in the Sphinx:

Cadet Colonel A.H. Chapman, Jr. Regimental Commander
Member of the Regimental Cadet Committee
Summerall Guards: Guide
Junior Sword Drill
Economic Honor Society
Gold Stars
Round Table
Standing Hop Committee
Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges

At The Citadel, Chapman was committed to being the best he could be at whatever he did. However, he was not first honor graduate of his class of 1942. He was third. The two who finished ahead of him went on to become atomic scientists. Chapman credits much of the success of his 50-year career in the newspaper and communications business to what he learned as a cadet at The Citadel. Today he holds an Honorary Doctor of Law Degree, The Citadel (1971). He received The Citadel Board of Visitors Palmetto Award for Distinguished Service in 1985. He is currently on The Citadel Advisory Council and in 1989 he and his wife Betty funded an endowed chair in the Department of Business Administration, which encourages innovation in business concepts. During the Sesquicentennial Homecoming Celebration ceremony, November 2002, Chapman was inducted into the Arland D. Williams Society. Chapman’s portrait as a Distinguished Alumni currently hangs in the Daniel Library reference room.

Battlin Betty

Alvah Chapman also believes in Betty Bateman. When he was Regimental Commander in 1942, she was there by his side as sponsor in The Sphinx yearbook. In spirit, Betty was with him two years later Sunday, February 20, 1944, when, as part of the 401st Bomb Division in an operation to Leipzig, Germany, the 8th Air Force struck what some call “the greatest blow yet to German aircraft production.” For their achievement, they received messages of commendation from General Doolittle. According to the 401st Bomb Group (H) –Combat Mission Summary:

Lt. [later Major] Alvah Chapman, with Capt. Silver, Deputy Group Commander, in the co-pilot's seat, brought his aircraft, ‘Battlin Betty,’ back safely, flying across much of Germany at low altitude after having had two engines shot out and suffering major damage to brakes, flaps and fuselage.

On that particular mission, Chapman maneuvered his B-17, “Battlin' Betty,” back to base at treetop level on two engines. Members of the crew later remarked that the trip home was like "touring Europe in a sightseeing bus." Chapman flew 37 combat missions as a Lead Pilot and Air Commander. For his performance as a WWII pilot, he received a Distinguished Flying Cross (with two oak clusters), the Air Medal (with five clusters) and the Croix de Guerre, which attest to both his aerial skills and bravery in combat.
After more than 60 years, Betty is still by his side. She was there in 2001 at the dedication of The Betty B. Chapman Student Plaza at Florida International University. The school named a key student thoroughfare and gathering spot for Betty. She was a longtime supporter of FIU and leader in Miami charitable and community organizations.
No doubt, Chapman believes “Battlin Betty” provided moral support for him during the combat missions. And it would be reasonable to conclude that the leadership training, education and sense of discipline he received at The Citadel proved to be an asset as well. Chapman, however, credits his Christian faith as his greatest source of support.


His Christian Faith

An octogenarian, Alvah Chapman is still active in his church and community. In 1998 upon establishment at Florida International University of The Alvah H. Chapman, Jr. Eminent Scholars Chair in Management and Ethics (which is said to reflect Mr. Chapman's insistence on professional integrity), Chapman was asked about his future plans. With Betty at his side, he said he foresaw a future dedicated, at least in part, to what he had done best for the last 40 years: community service. "I'm a student of the Bible," he explained. "There's nothing in the Bible about retirement."
A speech given on the occasion of Chapman’s leadership of the Miami-Dade County Mayor’s Economic Summit January 26, 1998, gives deeper insight into that source of strength. In his speech, he told those gathered that to be successful the Economic Development Plan must have planning, persistence and passion. Then he gave them the key ingredient:

There is one more essential that was common to the three earlier activities that I described, and that is prayer–and this could be the most important of all! Before the first meeting of the Miami Coalition We Will Rebuild, and the Miami-Dade county Community Homeless Plan, the leadership of each knew that the matter was too complex to achieve success without God's help, His guidance and His blessing.
That is certainly so today with this vital but complex problem of economic growth. I suggest that prayer be an essential part of this undertaking. And to that end, let me close by asking you to join me in prayer for this great and noble undertaking that engages us today. Let us pray–the Old Testament prophet Isaiah wrote, ‘even before you ask, God knows your needs.’ and in Paul’s letter to the Philippians he wrote, ‘be not anxious about anything but in all things by prayer and petition with thanksgiving present your requests to God.’
So our heavenly father, we this morning come to you with praise and thanksgiving to seek your guidance on the complex matter before us. Bless the commitment of each of us to devote our energy and thought to this noble task of seeking jobs for even the poorest among us. Let success attend our endeavors. Above all inspire our leaders, Mayor Alex Penelas and Jay Malina, to always seek your wise counsel. Bless this mission we pray.

In Thy Holy Name. Amen!

In an interview for this book, Chapman was asked about his leadership style, and why he thought he was so successful. He immediately referenced the Romans verses, which read:

We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Alvah H. Chapman, Jr. could be the model for the “whole man.” He is the embodiment of the physical, intellectual, military, and spiritual. He was so during his youth and has been throughout his illustrious career. His years at The Citadel were punctuated by achievement. Chapman stood out in a crowd of outstanding men. In his class of 1942 were four future Generals, two future Presidents of The Citadel, a Governor of South Carolina and a U.S. Senator. His civic involvement is that of legends. Moreover, he did this all the while maintaining his faith as well as a family life worthy of respect. Those who wonder if the whole man” is an achievable goal need look no further than the life of Alvah H. Chapman, Jr. He is truly a man of selfless ambition.