Sit-In Student Remembers Quillian - - ABC13

Sit-In Student Remembers Quillian


Lynchburg, VA - People are remembering Dr. Bill Quillian, the longest-serving president of the institution that would become Randolph College.

Quillian died Tuesday at the age of 100.

Randolph-Macon Woman's College lost donors, and trustees resigned after the arrest of two students during a Civil Rights protest in 1961.

One of the women arrested says the college president was there for them through it all.

She was sitting right in the middle of the lunch counter in 1961, but there's still one thing Mary Edith Bentley Abu-Saba wants to be up front about.

"We did not ask his permission to go down there and have a sit in. He did not know anything about that happening," Abu-Saba said.

Until Bill Quillian, who was president of what was then Randolph-Macon Woman's College, got called to bail two of his students out of jail.

They were part of the Patterson 6, arrested in a drug store sit-in.

"They asked us who we wanted to call to bail us out right away and we said well let's call the president of the college and we did," Abu-Saba explained. "They asked for $1,000 for each of us and the president, President Quillian paid for each one of us to be let out of jail."

Mary Edith says it was pretty quiet in that car, driving back to campus with President Quillian. But she says it's what he told her later that became a life lesson she carries with her to this day.

"He was very proud of us, and he said that. But he said you have to understand that not every people, all the people who run the show here, alumni, they don't understand this," Abu-Saba said.

Quillian would later bring them their textbooks during their 30 day jail sentence for trespassing so the seniors could keep up with their studies.

"He was very very kind, but firm and he said, don't you go and do it again before you graduate, OK," Abu-Saba said.

A visitation will be held Sunday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Westminster Canterbury in the 3rd floor commons area.

Quillian's funeral is set for 11 a.m. Monday at Court Street United Methodist Church in Lynchburg.

Arrangements are by Tharp Funeral Home.

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