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Bennette Eugene Geer Collection: Biography
Bennette Eugene Geer
Photograph from Furman University Archives

Bennette Eugene Geer was born in Anderson County, South Carolina on June 9, 1873. He married Rena McGee Rice in 1900, and they had six children. He graduated from Furman University in 1896 with a B.A., and received his M.A. in 1897. He continued on at Furman to serve as an assistant professor of Latin (1897), professor of English (1901), dean of the faculty (1907), and treasurer (1911-1927). He was conferred a Doctor of Letters degree from Furman in 1916.

In 1911, he began work in the cotton mill industry, and became the president and treasurer of Judson Mills in 1913. Geer served as president of the American Cotton Manufacturers Association from 1930-1931, and was a founder of the Cotton Textile Institute. He was president of the American Bank and Trust Company of Greenville, and director of the First National Bank, Peoples National Bank, Liberty Life Insurance Company, Union Bleachery, and Piedmont and Northern Railway. In World War I, he was a fuel administrator for South Carolina, and in World War II, he served as a member of the National Labor Relations Board, for the textile industry, and also as a member of the Code Committee of the Textile Industry under the National Recovery Act.

As a Furman University trustee, Geer secured Furman as a beneficiary of the Duke Endowment, and in 1933, he was chosen as the sixth president of Furman University.

His accomplishments included working with others to develop the Greenville-Furman arboretum, construct Sirrine Stadium, begin a nursing program with Greenville General Hospital, begin the Greenville Symphony Orchestra, and form the Greenville County Council for Community Development. He also received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award as an outstanding alumnus and friend of the university. Geer died in Greenville, South Carolina in 1964 at the age of 91.

See also a Bennette Eugene Geer: Educator, Businessman, and President by Charlie Murphy, former student in the "Furman in the World" freshman seminar.