Story by Rhonda Minton '90 & '99, director of strategic communications for advancement at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee
Being in the spotlight is one of the last places Bob Sitton '60 prefers to be. However, when asked to write about Bob for Sawdust, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share my appreciation of everyone's favorite Lumberjack.
As the leader of the SFA Alumni Association from 1972 to 1998, Bob established himself as the face of SFA alumni. During his tenure, the association's membership increased exponentially, and the scholarship fund grew into the millions. The monumental growth and success of the Alumni Association under his leadership merited his induction into the SFA Alumni Hall of Fame in 2015.
During Homecoming 2021, the accolades of the annual Homecoming golf tournament being renamed the Bob Sitton Classic and the dedication of the new Bob Sitton Head Men's Basketball Coach Office at Johnson Coliseum amazed him. When Bob called in September to tell me the news, he was excited and in shock. "I've been so blessed and honored, and I can't believe this is happening," he said.
Although retired, Bob remains the quintessential alumni guy. He never meets a stranger and is always ready to talk about SFA. Even when he meets someone for the first time, Bob makes some type of connection between his new friend and something (or someone) from his experiences. Here's a typical conversation:
"Bob Sitton," he announces as he offers his hand and proceeds to rest his other hand on the individual's shoulder. "Now who are you, and where are you from?"
"My name is (insert name), and I'm from (insert city)."
"Well, I'll be. Say, do you know … ?"
That is how I met Bob in 1988 at the alumni office when I was an SFA student and alumni scholarship recipient. He asked about my hometown, and we discovered we are both small-town products — he is from Cushing, and I'm from Maud. We hit it off, much like others who meet Bob. "Rhonda, the Pride of Maud," he called me that day and continues to do so every time we greet each other. Bob always made time for me, and when I graduated from SFA and took a job in Washington, D.C., he hugged me and said, "Now, don't forget where you came from."
Bob was among the first to welcome me back to SFA when I joined Ken Kennamer's university news staff and worked alongside the alumni staff as part of my role at SFA. Bob shared his grand ideas and trusted his staff to implement them to benefit the association, the university and students. Two of the things I admire most about him are his humble attitude and utmost sincerity. If Bob tells you he will do something, it will be done. He treats everyone with kindness. He is a strong family man and good friend to all.
Bob has been a coach in some manner to hundreds of individuals — whether they suited up for him on the sidelines when he was a high school football coach or worked alongside him.
In my role as director of strategic communications for advancement at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, I often think about how Bob works his alumni magic, his unassuming way of dealing with a variety of personalities and his overwhelming desire to serve and help others. Bob is a legend in the alumni relations field, and I am grateful he is one of my mentors. And when I meet Lipscomb alumni and students, introduce myself and ask, "What is your name, and where are you from," I can't help but smile as I automatically start thinking of possible connections and resist the instinctive urge to say, "Well, I'll be. Say, do you know … ?"