Remembering Russ Meekins

Celebration of life service set for Jan. 23.

 The university community is invited to a celebration of life at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23 in the My Carolina Alumni Center in memory of Russ Meekins, executive director of University Foundations who died unexpectedly Dec. 23.

Meekins, 63, earned degrees in accounting and finance at Carolina in 1981 and 1983, respectively, before obtaining his CPA license. He was the chief financial officer of University Foundations, which includes the Educational Foundation and Development Foundation, from 1997 to 2012 and executive director from 2013 until his death.

Because of Meekins’ key involvement in important projects such as developing the Inn at USC, the Children’s Center at USC, the Gamecock baseball stadium and 650 Lincoln student housing, many university administrators worked closely with him.

Terry Parham, the university’s general counsel, remembers Meekins warmth and kindness.

“Russ loved his family, and he loved Carolina. He was uncommonly kind, always smiling, quick to laugh, and a friend to all who had the good fortune to know him,” Parham says. “He took pride in the many successes of his children, and he worked tirelessly on behalf of the university’s foundations to assist in advancing Carolina. I will miss my trusted colleague; I will miss my friend."

Jerry Odom, former executive director of the foundations whose career at Carolina included service as professor, dean and provost, remembers daily walks with Meekins on the Horseshoe.

“Russ and I worked together in Osborne [Administration Building], and we both loved the Horseshoe. We often took mid-morning walks to discuss items of mutual interest — university donors, foundation business and family,” Odom says. “He was always so positive. No matter the situation, he could find something good to say about everybody and everything.

“He loved talking about his son and daughter and always knew what was happening in their lives.”

Bill Kirkland, executive director of the university’s Office of Economic Engagement, worked closely with Meekins on several projects.

“My respect for him as a businessman is surpassed only by my respect for him as a person,” Kirkland says. “I may miss his sharp wit and infectious laugh most of all. No matter what we were meeting about, I always left Russ’ office happier than when I arrived.

“Russ was a true friend and was always generous with his insight and wisdom. I know that his loss will be deeply felt by my team, the entire USC community and anyone blessed to have known him.”

More tributes about Meekins will come at Tuesday’s celebration of life service from Bob Coble, former mayor of Columbia; Ed Walton, USC’s senior vice president for administration and chief operating officer; longtime university trustee Mark W. Buyck Jr.; and Susie H. VanHuss, secretary/treasurer of the Development Foundation board. USC President Harris Pastides will also deliver special remarks.

The My Carolina Alumni Center is located at Senate and Lincoln streets with parking on the street and in an adjacent parking garage. Faculty and staff attending the event may take a shuttle from Pendleton Garage starting at 9 am on Tuesday. The shuttle will run for an hour after the event is over. Also, there will be limited free parking available in the Discovery Garage.

Memorial gifts can be mailed to the Russell H. Meekins Carolina Scholar Endowed Scholarship Fund at USC Office of Gift Processing (checks payable to USC Educational Foundation), 1027 Barnwell St., Columbia, S.C. 29208, or online at


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