In 1921, three years after the Armistice was signed, Furman University and Greenville paid tribute to the university's World War I veterans in a moving ceremony that unveiled a memorial statue of a doughboy. The copper soldier was one of numerous doughboy statues designed by E.M Viquesney - depicting a soldier rushing into battle, wielding a grenade in one hand and a rifle in the other - dedicated to honor veterans of World War I. When the Furman Doughboy was first dedicated, hundreds of area residents turned out at the old campus in downtown Greenville. A bugler played taps as Mrs. T.J. Lyons, the mother of a Furman student who died in France during the war, gently loosened the fastening of the American flag that shrouded the statue.
An article in the July 1921 issue of the Furman Bulletin reported that the "handsome statue with splashes of molten gold and the youthful figure of an American Doughboy in France, preserved in lasting metal and stone, stood revealed to the eyes of the expectant throng." When the statue was uncovered, "applause broke forth. Tears filled the eyes of beholders. The base's rear reads: "More than 500 Furman men served in the World War." and ex-service men wept as they saw the figure, so life-like, emerge."
Five hundred and forty Furman men, almost the entire student body of the then all-male college, volunteered for service during the Great War. Six of them died during the war: Pvt. Thomas J. Lyons Jr.; Pvt. Otis Brodie; Lt. John H. David (the first South Carolina officer killed in action); Lt. Charles S. Gardner (who, though seriously wounded, refused to be removed from the battle); Sgt. Charles E. Timmons Jr. (who "went to death beyond the call of duty, while aiding men from another company"); and Cpl. Talmadge W. Gerrald (who gave his life trying to save a wounded comrade). Their names are inscribed at the base of the Doughboy.
Since that dedication day, the Furman Doughboy has become one of the university's most enduring landmarks. When Furman moved to its current location, so did the Doughboy. It was erected near the south end of the lake in 1957 and is one of the few surviving remnants of the old campus.
Over the last forty years, the Doughboy has lost its luster. The weather has taken its toll, and on two occasions it has been vandalized. The statue was moved for refurbishing to the Upcountry History Museum and the Furman University Library, and in 2004 a completely new replacement was cast in bronze by sculptor Maria J. Kirby Smith and placed back on campus at Childers Plaza.
The plaques that were with the Doughboy at its former location were also moved to Childers Plaza.
Two new plaques read: (on the low left brick column)
ARTIST: E. M. VIQUESNEY
STATUE ORIGINALLY INSTALLED IN 1921 AT
THE DOWNTOWN GRENVILLE MEN’S CAMPUS
AND RECONSTRUCTED IN 2004 BY ARTIST
THE DOUGHBOY FACES EAST TOWARD
THE BATTLEFIELDS OF FRANCE. and on the low right brick column:
ELAINE DUFFY CHILDERS ’43
WACO F. CHILDERS, JR. ’47