Hunter, Maddox Named Darlington School Distinguished Alumni

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As Darlington School kicks off its Alumni Weekend celebration today, the Alumni Office is pleased to announce that Nancy (Smith) Hunter (’65T) and The Hon. Don Maddox (’59) are the recipients of the 2012 Distinguished Alumnus Award.

As Darlington School kicks off its Alumni Weekend celebration today, the Alumni Office is pleased to announce that Nancy (Smith) Hunter (’65T) and The Hon. Don Maddox (’59) are the recipients of the 2012 Distinguished Alumnus Award.

“It is an honor to be able to introduce this year’s award recipients,” said Jere Drummond (’57), chairman of the Board of Trustees. “They are both great examples of the Darlington Motto – Wisdom more than Knowledge, Service beyond Self, Honor above Everything – and they exemplify it in everything they do.”

Hunter, only the second woman in school history to receive this award, is a retired educator who is well-known in Rome and Floyd County for her dedication and service to the community.

“This is the first time this award has been given to a classroom educator,” she said. “We don’t make a lot of money, but we touch a lot of lives and I’m proud of that. The confidence that your teachers instill in you is one of the finest gifts you will receive… It will follow you right out of these gates.”

Hunter grew up in Lindale, Ga., and is a graduate of Thornwood School, the all-girls school that merged with Darlington in 1973. In high school, she was very involved in student government, serving as secretary/treasurer her junior year and president her senior year. She was also a member of the yearbook staff, the Thornwood Chorus and the A Cappella Choir. As a senior, she received the DAR Citizenship Award and was named “Best All Around” by her classmates. She went on to attend St. Mary’s Junior College in Raleigh, N.C., and graduated from the University of Georgia in 1969 with a B.S. in Education.

She started her career in Cobb County, where she taught from 1970 through 1977. She then moved back to Rome, where she taught at the Pepperell schools for 30 years until her retirement in 2007. In 1988, she was recognized as Pepperell Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year.

Hunter has always been active in her community. In fact, she and her husband, David, were among the recipients of the 2012 Heart of the Community Award for servant leadership, presented by Redmond Regional Medical Center. She has worked with various organizations such as Alpha Kappa Delta Educational Sorority, Claws for Paws, Good Neighbor Ministries and the Empty Bowls Project. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Hospitality House for Women and Rome Area Council for the Arts. She was also named Junior Service League’s Sustainer of the Year in 2008 and is active at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. But Hunter says the organization that is dearest to her is Camp Sunshine, a camp for children with cancer, where she has volunteered as a counselor for 28 years.

“Camp Sunshine is my heart,” Hunter said. “Our dear friends lost their 3-year-old son to cancer a long time ago, but something good came out of this sadness because they helped start Camp Sunshine. The first year, 40 campers attended. This past year, 30 years later, there were over 400 campers and one-third of the counselors were former campers. Down the road, you’ll find organizations that mean something to you and I trust that you’ll continue the habit of giving back [that you learned at Darlington]. You’ll enjoy it – the rewards are unbelievable.”

And though she never actually attended Darlington, Hunter remains an active member of the school community. She is a longtime member of the J.J. Darlington Society and has supported several capital campaigns over the years. She has served two terms on the Alumni Council and was co-chairwoman of two all-Thornwood reunion celebrations. She has also been a Rome parent to two female resident students and a member of the Thornwood 50th Anniversary of the Founding Committee, the Thornwood Restoration Committee and the Thornwood Campaign Cabinet for the Second Century Campaign.

“At our last Thornwood reunion, we voted to endow a scholarship for a local girl, and this year we were excited to be able to give a partial scholarship,” Hunter said. “We look forward to fully endowing this award in the near future. Additionally, one of the newest girls’ dormitories has been named Thornwood Hall, ensuring that Thornwood will always have a permanent place on the Darlington campus. It’s exciting to know that the Thornwood legacy lives on here at Darlington.”

Maddox could not attend today’s ceremony, but will return to Darlington on Oct. 29 to accept his award and address the student body. A lifelong attorney, he was appointed district judge for New Mexico’s 5th Judicial District by Gov. Gary Johnson in 2000. He was elected without opposition and retained his post in subsequent elections until his retirement in 2010.

Born in Bristol, Va., Maddox was raised in Gastonia, N.C., and attended public school there most of his life. His senior year, he became a resident student at Darlington School and enjoyed his time as a member of the varsity wrestling team. After graduating from high school, he went on to earn a B.S. from Pfeiffer University in 1964 and a Juris Doctor degree from Wake Forest University School of Law in 1967.

Maddox worked throughout high school, college and law school in the oil fields of Southeastern New Mexico. He loved this area of the country so much that after graduating from law school, he moved permanently to New Mexico and has lived in Hobbs ever since.

He passed the New Mexico Bar Exam in 1968 and served as an assistant district attorney for several years. In 1970, he formed a law practice with his brother, Jim. He is permitted to practice before the Supreme Court of New Mexico, U.S. District Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals (5th and 10th Circuit), and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Maddox has received multiple awards and honors throughout his career, including the Trustee in Free Enterprise Award from the University of the Southwest and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Pfeiffer University. He was also named a Paul Harris Fellow by Rotary International. In 2011, he and his brother received the Distinguished Leadership Award from Leadership New Mexico for their numerous contributions to Hobbs, Southeastern New Mexico and the State of New Mexico.

As a lawyer and as a judge, Maddox has been active in various professional organizations. He has served as president of the Lea County Bar Association, as well as chairman of the New Mexico Bar Disciplinary Board, prior to being appointed to the bench. Additionally, he was previously active in Rotary International and other civic activities, and attends First United Methodist Church in Hobbs.

Currently, Maddox serves as officer and director of the J. F Maddox Foundation, a position that he has held for over 40 years. He maintains an office in Hobbs, where he is involved in the management of the foundation.

Maddox remains active in the Darlington Community. He is a visitor emeritus and a member of the J.J. Darlington Society. He was also privileged to give the Commencement address several years ago. He and his wife, Susan, have two children, Ann Maddox Utterback of Albuquerque and Ben Maddox (’91) of Taos, and four grandchildren, Sarah and Toby Utterback and Asher and Stella Maddox.

Nominees for the Distinguished Alumnus Award must have distinguished themselves in one or more of the following areas since graduating from Darlington or Thornwood – notable achievement within a professional field; service to his or her community, state or nation; service to the arts, sciences or humanitarian causes; or loyalty to Darlington. After nominations have been solicited from the alumni body, the award recipient is selected by an Executive Committee of the Alumni Council, composed of the president of the Alumni Council, the chairman of the Board of Trustees and the director of alumni relations.

Located in Rome, Ga., Darlington School is an independent, coeducational, college-preparatory school for students in pre-K through grade 12, with boarding in grades 9-12. The school offers motivated students rigorous academics, numerous fine arts opportunities and a competitive athletics program in a nurturing environment. Stretching for more than 400 acres, Darlington’s campus is nestled around a small lake in the foothills of the Lookout Mountain Range in Rome, Georgia, a medical center and college town 65 miles northwest of Atlanta. Our students are the center of all that we do, and together, we empower them to learn with passion, act with integrity and serve with respect. For more information, visit

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