For South, All Roads Lead Back to Tech

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Perched on a shelf in Richard South’s office is the kind of 1960s desktop cigarette lighter you’d spy in an episode of “Mad Men.”            

It’s a rectangular wooden box, about 6 inches tall, decorated with Georgia Tech-themed scenes. It’s a reminder of South’s grandmother, Mary Louise Holybee, who worked at the Institute from 1964 to 1984.   

“In those days, everyone smoked, and she kept the lighter handy for the important people who visited her office,” said South, who is a financial administrator and recruiting coordinator for Career Services. “She passed away in recent years, and the lighter is one of the reminders I have of grandma and the memories I made with her at Tech when I was little.”

As a child, South would help Holybee deliver Christmas cards to people across campus every December, and he would often accompany her to the Carnegie Building once a year to deliver a homemade coconut cake that she made annually for the sitting president of Tech.  

“Tech has always been such a big part of my life, so after graduating from high school, I took a job in the police department (GTPD) in 1988 as the morning watch dispatcher,” South added.
He worked his way up through the ranks of the department until he became the liaison between GTPD and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. But in 1995, he realized it was time to pursue another dream outside of Tech — his love for ministry and music.

Recently, The Whistle had an opportunity to learn more about South’s story and his time at Tech.

How did you get back to Tech?          
After I left, I traveled full time as a gospel singer and minister. I also became involved in a Christian television ministry and have been on a variety of programs over the years. Although I loved doing this (and still continue to minister and make music in my free time), as the economy went downhill, I needed to find a way to supplement my income. So in 2009, I was lucky to find my current position.

Tell us a bit about your job.      
I manage all of the finances for Career Services and manage the logistics (including scheduling rooms and times) for companies that visit campus to recruit our students.

Where is your favorite spot on campus?   
Actually, my favorite spot closed in 1992 when Ferst Place opened. It was the faculty and staff dining room, which was located in the Library. This was one of the places my grandma always took me as a child, and I continued to eat there when I worked in GTPD.

What piece of technology could you not live without?
Because I love music so much, it would have to be my CD player.

What is the greatest risk you ever took?
It would have to be leaving my job at Tech in the 1990s to pursue my dream of being a musician and joining the ministry. I didn’t have a booking or much of a plan, but it paid off.

Where is your favorite place to eat lunch?
Lately, I’ve been on a diet — and have lost 50 pounds so far — so it’s probably the salad bar at Ferst Place in the Student Center.

Tell us something unique about yourself that others might not be aware of.
I was working at a church that was looking to get rid of an old typewriter. I took it, and the next thing I knew, I was collecting old IBM typewriters and adding machines. It’s always a great icebreaker when the IBM recruiters visit campus.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
No one can make you feel bad about yourself without your permission — so don’t give your permission.



  • Workflow Status:Published
  • Created By:Amelia Pavlik
  • Created:09/17/2012
  • Modified By:Fletcher Moore
  • Modified:10/07/2016