USC Upstate News

Gail and Clary Hood Recall Struggle To Raise Family and Finish College Education

08- 13- 2009

Spartanburg, S.C. - Gail and Clary Hood know first-hand what it’s like to struggle with raising a young family while trying to complete a college education. Married now for 40 years, the couple can easily recall the days when Gail was an elementary school teacher working to finish her master’s degree in education at the University of South Carolina Upstate (then USC Spartanburg) as they juggled caring for three children and growing Clary’s business ventures.

Gail and Clary HoodWhile those years were chaotic and hectic, today they can look back on them with nostalgia but savoring the life lessons they learned. And, they want to use their blessings to help others who may be following in their paths.

The couple recently established the Gail Hogan Hood Scholarship in Education at USC Upstate with a gift of real estate valued at $170,000.  Proceeds from the sale of the land will fund an endowment to provide scholarships to students pursuing a degree in education with preference given to those who are married, residents of Spartanburg County, S.C., and demonstrating a financial need.

“I hope that this scholarship fund will help students who don’t otherwise have the financial means to pursue a college education,” said Gail, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Limestone College in 1972 and her master’s degree from USC Upstate in 1980. “When I started college, it was hard to make ends meet and college is so much more expense now. The expense alone prohibits many people from attending college so I hope this helps produce more teachers for our area.”

Dr. Charles Love, dean of the School of Education at USC Upstate, said he was absolutely delighted to hear the news of the Gail Hogan Hood Scholarship in Education.

Clary and Gail Hood with Charles Love“As a result of Mr. and Mrs. Hood’s generous scholarship support, the University will be able to continue our efforts of producing the highest quality of teachers for South Carolina schools,” said Love. “Scholarships of any level allow students to concentrate more on schoolwork without having to worry so much about their finances.”

According to Mike Irvin, vice chancellor for university advancement at USC Upstate, “This gift is also important because it represents the inaugural gift to the recently launched Access to Success-An Investment in the Future scholarship campaign at USC Upstate.  This is a two-year, $750,000 campaign to raise student support in the form of endowed and annual scholarships, with a focus on freshmen recruitment and transfer students.  The campaign also places an emphasis on student retention for those who struggle to retain their state-supported financial aid.”

The establishment of the Gail Hogan Hood Scholarship in Education comes as great news to the approximately 950 students enrolled in the education programs at USC Upstate, which include Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Middle Level Education, Special Education--Learning Disabilities, Secondary Education, and Physical Education. The University also offers master’s degree programs in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, and Special Education: Visual Impairment. Both the number students pursuing a degree in education and the number of degrees being offered have increased insignificantly since Gail earned her master’s degree on the Spartanburg campus in 1980.

Clary says he is proud of both is wife’s commitment to education and the growth of her alma mater.  He says they’ve watched the USC Upstate campus grow from being a commuter campus with one building when Gail was a student to the bustling residential campus that it is today.

“We’ve had a certain amount of success and happiness and we want others to benefit,” said Clary, who is the CEO of Clary Hood, Inc.; owner of Specialized Parts and Equipment, LLC; principal owner of Regional Utilities; and investor in several real estate deals. “I love Gail and she loves USC Upstate so it is a win-win deal for me.”

Gail and Clary, who are originally from Pacolet but now reside in Cowpens, are the parents of Jennifer Hood Sellars, Laurie Hood Cothran and Wesley Lamar Hood. Laurie earned a degree in communications from USC Upstate in 1998. They also have nine grandchildren.

For more information on the Access to Success – An Investment in the Future campaign or to learn how you can contribute to student scholarships at USC Upstate, contact Bea Walters Smith at (864) 503-5235 or