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President's Corner: December 2018

One of the most touching moments in our farewell to Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium after the VMI game in November occurred in a room under the west stands. There, two of A.H. Foreman's grandchildren, Herbert Foreman Hargroves and Peggy Bartlett, turned off the lights to the old stadium for the final time.

As we look ahead with excitement to the opening next fall of S.B. Ballard Stadium, we also should look back to remember the contributions of Alvan Herbert Foreman, who helped create not just the previous stadium but also this institution.

Foreman was an influential community leader. His positions included lawyer, principal, library director and school superintendent. Perhaps even more important, Foreman served as chairman of Norfolk's School Board and member of William and Mary's Board of Visitors (for 28 years!).

He had always thought Norfolk needed a college. When the city decided to construct a replacement for Larchmont Elementary School, Foreman saw an opportunity. He lobbied officials from the city and William and Mary to transform the old elementary school into a college building. In 1930, the two-year Norfolk Division of the College of William and Mary opened.

That pleased Foreman, but he felt there was an unfinished piece of business. The school needed a football stadium to accommodate the crowds when it would eventually become a four-year college. He used his connections, including a college classmate who was friends with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and secured $300,000 in funding, most from New Deal agencies, for the stadium.

Foreman Field opened in 1936. At the time, it was the second-largest stadium in the commonwealth. Foreman's two alma maters, William and Mary and the University of Virginia, faced off in the first college football game there. U.Va. won, 7-0.

Foreman died in 1958 at the age of 80. His tombstone at Riverside Memorial Park in Norfolk bears a four-word epitaph: "His deeds yet live." We will make sure that remains true. When you go through the middle entrance of the east side of the rebuilt S.B. Ballard Stadium next fall, you will see a tribute to A.H. Foreman and his contributions to Old Dominion.

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