Today’s Alumni Update is a guest blog by Oak Hill Academy President, Michael D. Groves. We recently had a tremendous opportunity for our student body to hear from someone for whom Oak Hill Academy provided a Turning Point. It was powerful for them to realize that they are part of Oak Hill Academy’s long history and are part of such an important, effective, and life- changing tradition and mission! We were so happy to have Mr. Pelton and his wife, Leslie (’67), on campus. Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Pelton met as students at Oak Hill Academy!
“In May of 2017, the Oak Hill Academy Board of Trustees nominated Oak Hill Academy alumnus George R. Pelton to be honored as Trustee Emeritus. The nomination was received and passed unanimously. The designation of Trustee Emeritus is an honorary title conveyed by a governing board upon a former trustee of an institution to recognize exemplary service. And George R. Pelton, OHA Class of 1967, certainly qualifies.
Mr. Pelton is an alumnus who has served his alma mater with distinction as a member of our Board of Trustees for many years. And, he is likely one of our school’s most successful alumni—and, given the names adorning the wall of Turner Gymnasium, that is truly saying something! A successful businessman who operates a large chain of car dealerships throughout Virginia (he is founding CEO of First Team Auto), George was a student at Oak Hill Academy from 1965-1967.
A glance at the yearbook reveals a sincere, serious-looking young man; George was very involved; and, yes, he did play basketball here (“short shorts” era!). He was also a recipient of a Senior Accolade. Mr. Pelton, was it “Most Studious?” (no). Was it “Most Athletic?” (no). Given that he is clearly one of our most successful alumni—it is a bit ironic that he was not selected as most likely to succeed. George Pelton was voted by his peers as … “Best Dressed.”
Mr. Pelton has created and funded a scholarship at Oak Hill in memory of his late son Geoffrey, who was killed by a drunk driver in 1993. He and his company are very involved and active in his Roanoke community, providing televised public service announcements—speaking out against drunk driving and texting while driving. George is also supportive of OHA by generously providing for the usage of vehicles from his dealerships, by contributing financially to our Annual fund, and—of course, supporting the Geoffrey Pelton Memorial Fund.”
Upon receipt of the plaque and official Oak Hill Academy “Jordan Brand” Jersey, Mr. Pelton addressed the gathering. He expressed appreciation for the honor and shared with the student body that he recalls vividly beginning his tenure on “The Hill” as a student. He needed structure and a place where he could be surrounded by people “who would not allow him to settle for less than who he should be.” He admitted that although there were many times he struggled as a student, “Oak Hill eventually won, and look where I am today.” A Turning Point, indeed.