|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,
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
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
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
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.
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,
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.