Georgia Tech’s Oldest Living Alumnus Roy Bethune Turns 106
George "Roy" Bethune, a resident of Cartersville, Georgia, was born March 10, 1914, in Atlanta. He remembers celebrations marking the end of World War I, living through the Great Depression, being on active duty in the Army during World War II, and witnessing the turn of the 21st century.
During his childhood, Bethune’s family lived in several Georgia locations including Cedartown, Gainesville, and Macon.
The Depression hit just as he was thinking about going to Georgia Tech, and it looked like he would not be able to go. His aunt and uncle lived In Atlanta, and they said he could live with them rent-free. But he still had to pay $100 in fees each quarter, and his family could not afford it. His mother earned $50 by winning a competition from Snow Dry Cleaning in Macon, and his family scraped together the remaining $50, allowing him to enroll at Georgia Tech.
While there, he was a member of the Briarean Society, Co-op Club, and Scabbard and Blade. He had a co-op job with Goodyear Tire & Rubber in Cartersville, and he graduated in 1937 with a bachelor’s degree in textile engineering.
Bethune met his wife, Ruth Gaines, in Cartersville. They were married from 1939 until her death in 1996. They had three children: Anne, Beth, and Bill.
Over the years he held various positions at Goodyear. His favorite was as a development engineer, which gave him free rein to work on projects of his choice and explore new ideas. He earned three patents related to machinery.
He’s a past president of the Kiwanis Club and former district chair for Boy Scouts of America and Scoutmaster. He played tennis well into his 90s, when he was sidelined by a shoulder injury. Today he is still an avid chess and croquet player, and he’s an online stock trader.
Bethune said that if he had to do it all over again, “I would still choose Georgia Tech.”
To learn more about interesting alumni, see Georgia Tech's Living History Progam, which has been gathering stories since 1994.