March 15, 2010

Margaret Bradley Poole

In honor of women's history month in March, we thought we would highlight a few inspiring Clemson female alumnus who have made an impact in their lives.

If you know of someone you feel should be featured this week, please email us at

Margaret Bradley Poole - One of Clemson's Finest First Ladies

Sarah Margaret “Margie” Bradley was born on Oct. 6, 1898 in Abbeville, SC. Her grandfather, John E. Bradley, was a member of Clemson's first board of trustees. The two were very close until he unexpectedly passed away right before she left for college.

Margaret left to attend Due West Woman's College (Erskine College). She was very creative and excelled in her studies. A college friend of hers said Margaret was "full of fun and good humor...she kept things lively."

While at Erskine, Margaret frequently visited Clemson because of her family ties to the school. In the Spring of 1916, she was asked to sing a solo with Clemson's glee club at one of the graduation ceremonies. Her performance caught the attention of a young cadet, R.F. "Frank" Poole. They began dating soon afterwards. The couple married in 1921 at Margaret's parent's home soon after Frank served his time in World War I.

The couple lived in New Burnswick, N.J. and Raleigh, N.C. while Frank finished his graduate studies at Rutgers Univ. and worked at N.C. State. During this time away from South Caroline, Margaret and Frank had five children.

In 1940, Frank Poole became the seventh president of Clemson College (Clemson Univ. old name). During his presidency, Margaret became known as "Clemson's Ambassador of Good Will" because of her service to the community and for hosting many college events. She was known to be able to handle any situation that came her way. One such incident occurred at a large dinner party Margaret and her husband were throwing for 43 guests. The hired cook never showed, so Margaret went into the kitchen and got right to work - cooking all of the food for the guests. She even greeted each and every guest - still covered in flour.

In 1958, Frank Poole passed away and Robert Cook Edwards became Clemson College's president. Knowing how much Clemson students loved Margaret, Robert asked Margaret to continue her service to the school as a counselar to students. He even once said about Margaret, "The students call on Mrs. Poole as special counselor to talk to them, and they love and respect her. Many are the benefits in manners and poise as she instructs them, but greatest of all is the influence her marvelous personality and zest for living has on them. They simply love her."

In 1947, Margaret established the Clemson Woman’s Club. It's purpose was to foster sociability among the women associated with Clemson and to serve as a social and service extension for the college.

Margaret also received many recognitions and awards in her lifetime. She was named Clemson's Mother of the Year in 1963 by Tiger Brotherhood. In 1965 she was recognized as South Carolina's Mother of the Year. And in 1972, the Clemson chapter of Delta Delta Delta (Margaret was a founding member) created a scholarship in her name.

Margaret Poole passed away on Jan. 22, 1975 and is buried in Cemetary Hill. Her legacy lives on in each and every Clemson female student who represent the university with class and service to the community.

This is a summarized and abridged version of the Clemson World Cemetary Chronicles article, "Beloved First Lady" by Rita Bolt Barker, Spring 2005.


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