Mississippi College Welcomes 101-Year-old Graduate Rev. Edwin Hewlett
October 24, 2013
Born in 1912 when headlines shocked the world about the Titanic’s sinking, Rev. Edwin Hewlett returns to Mississippi College as the oldest MC alumnus attending the 2013 Homecoming.
Just getting to the Clinton campus for Thursday evening’s 50-Year-Club reception wasn’t easy for the 101-year-old retired Baptist minister.
He motored down to Mississippi with his 71-year-old son, Ed Hewlett, Jr. from their home in Clarence, New York near Rochester. Their three-day trip in a 21-year-old Buick spanned more than 1,186 miles.
“That is amazing,” retired MC chemistry professor John Legg said of Rev. Hewlett’s visit. The Clintonian will be among the 50-Year-Club members welcoming both grads to the Clinton campus.
A 1932 Mississippi College graduate who attended school amid America’s Great Depression, Rev. Hewlett was ordained in 1933 and preached in Kentucky, Missouri and New York before retiring at age 88. He delivered his last sermon at a Baptist church in Rochester, N.Y. two years ago.
Born in Colt, Arkansas, but raised in Greenwood, Mississippi, Rev. Hewlett enrolled at Mississippi College for a couple of good reasons.
“He wanted to attend a great Baptist college with an excellent reputation,” said his son, Ed Hewlett, Jr., while driving earlier this week from the Empire State. “He loved MC.” His dad served as business manager for the “Tribesman,” the school yearbook, and was a high hurdler on the Choctaws track team.
His admiration for Mississippi College was contagious. His son, Ed Hewlett, Jr., is a 1964 MC graduate and served for nine years as the university’s dean of men through 1974. The younger Hewlett later was president of two Baptist colleges in Missouri.
It’s been quite a few years since the century-old gentleman from Clarence, New York visited Mississippi College. He traveled to Clinton when his son worked at the Baptist-affiliated university in the 1970s.
Much has changed. Enrollment at the Christian university now tops 5,000 students, and there’s a building renaissance on the Clinton campus, including a new medical sciences building, parking garage and bookstore. MC Choctaws athletic teams are taking steps to return to NCAA Division II and the Gulf South Conference next fall.
Rev. Hewlett should spot some familiar landmarks. Opened in 1860, Provine Chapel remains Mississippi College’s oldest structure and serves as home of the Department of Christian Studies. When Rev. Hewlett began his undergraduate studies at MC beginning in 1929, Alumni Hall was just four years old. Chrestman Hall was constructed in 1926, the university’s centennial year, and remains in use as a dormitory.
After Rev. Hewlett moved to upstate New York to get involved in church missions, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary graduate preached at Browncroft Baptist Church in Rochester and served as president of the New York Baptist Convention.
Although retired, Rev. Hewlett continues to dress in a coat and tie each day and spread the gospel message. “He talks to people. He strikes up conversations and asks – are you a Christian?,” said Ed Hewlett, Jr. He tells the lost about Jesus Christ.
Rev. Hewlett has accomplished much during his lifetime. As a Baptist pastor in St. Louis for 35 years, he quickly raised $400,000 to rescue a Baptist college that briefly closed due to financial straits. Today, Missouri Baptist University is thriving with more than 3,000 students. Years after the school reopened, Ed Hewlett, Jr. served as the institution’s president.
Just like his father, Ed Hewlett, Jr. was an active MC student. He was a pole-vaulter on the Choctaws track team, was named Mr. Mississippi College, sang in the Baptist Student Union Choir and was selected to the university’s Hall of Fame.
Meeting old friends and making new ones, the Hewletts will make the rounds at several Homecoming events. A downtown Clinton parade, MC Singers concert, Choctaws football game, and an alumni awards dinner are some of the activities for thousands of MC graduates. President Lee Royce plans to give a special welcome to the two New Yorkers with deep roots at Mississippi College.
Photo: Rev. Edwin Hewlett in his seminary days is now 101-years-old, Mississippi College's oldest alumnus and most anticipated Homecoming guest.