Harold Dean Propst ATLANTA, Ga. Harold Dean Propst died peacefully at his home, Nov. 12, 2012, following a long illness. He was born on Feb. 7, 1934, in Catawba County, N.C., the youngest child of Charles Clayton Propst (1895-1969) and Sarah Isabel Hilder-brand (1898-1973). He grew up on the family farm at Propst Crossroads and was a typical farm boy, picking cotton and being responsible for a number of other chores. A very studious boy who loved books, he was also a very mischievous one. As a youngster, he decided to be a preacher after attending a revival meeting at his Baptist church. He adopted a congregation of chickens to whom he preached, "saving" some of them. The "saved" ones, of course, had to be baptized. Doing so, he killed them, an act not appreciated by his parents. Consequently, his career took an academic path instead. After graduating from Blackburn High School (1952), he received an Associates Degree from Mars Hill College. He then attended Wake Forest College from which he was awarded the Bachelor of Arts degree in English, in 1956. Following his graduation, Propst served in the United States Navy for two years, primarily on the battleship Iowa. After his discharge from the Navy, he returned to his studies, earning a Master of Arts degree and a Ph.D. in American Literature from Peabody College (now a part of Vanderbilt University). Propst's first academic assignment was as a teacher of high school English in Vandalia, Ohio (1958-59). He also taught for one year at Wake Forest on a temporary appointment (1960-61). He served for seven years (1962-1979), on the faculty of Radford College (Va.), first as Assistant Professor of English with subsequent promotions to the ranks of Associate Professor and Professor of English. During this period, he also served for two years as chairman of the department. His full-time career as a higher education administrator began with his appointment as Dean of the faculty and later, Vice President at Armstrong State College (Savannah), a post that he held from 1969-1979. In 1979, he accepted appointment by the Board of Regents of The University System of Georgia, as Vice Chancellor for Academic Development (1979-81). He was subsequently appointed to the positions of Vice Chancellor and Executive Vice Chancellor. Propst was chosen by the Board of Regents to be the Chancellor of the University System, July 1, 1985, a position he held until his retirement, Jan., 1994. The Chancellor is the chief executive officer of the Board of Regents, which is the governing body for the University System of Georgia. In that role, Propst was responsible for the administration, through the Presidents, of all of the publicly supported senior colleges and universities in the state. In 1993, the system's total budget was in excess of $2 billion, supporting the enrollment of 206,000 students. Among many other honors and recognitions, Propst was awarded honorary doctorates by Mercer University and Armstrong Atlantic State University (Savannah). He is listed in Who's Who in America. He was also selected to receive Distinguished Alumnus awards from each of his alma maters. Throughout his life, Harold Dean Propst carried with him the seeds of honesty, hard work, and dedication to serving humanity that were planted by his parents and the church and community that nourished him as a child and young adult, always striving to nurture the growth that sprang from them. On his official portrait which hangs in the offices of the Board of Regents, are etched these words: "Character Above All". By this goal, his life will be measured. Those qualities were recognized by his church through the award of its annual Heart of Oakhurst award in 2009, an award given annually to an individual who demonstrates the spirit of Oakhurst Baptist Church. Preceding Propst in death, were his sisters, Frankie Mull and Rea Gilchrest; and his brothers, Will Propst and Charles Propst; as well as his niece, Sandra Gilchrest Harbinson. He is survived by nieces, Rita Propst Floyd, of Winston-Salem, and Robin Propst Eggers, of Max Meadows, Va.; and nephews, Kenneth W. Propst and Richard Mull, both of Hickory. A funeral service for Harold Dean Propst will be held at Corinth Baptist Church in Vale, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 17, at 2 p.m. Viewing will begin one hour prior to the service, and the family will receive friends immediately following the service. A memorial service will be held at Oakhurst Baptist Church in Decatur, Ga., on Saturday, Dec. 1, at 1 p.m. The family requests in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Corinth Baptist Church, 7929 West NC Highway 10, Vale, NC 28168, OR to the Oakhurst Baptist Church Building Fund, 222 East Lake Dr., Decatur, GA 30030. Bass-Smith Funeral Home, Hickory, is in charge of local arrangements. A. S. Turner & Sons Funeral Home and Crematory, Decatur, Ga., is serving the family.
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