Nita Tammarine reacts as she crosses the finish line during the Dempsey Dash 5K, a race celebrating the memory of Brenau's longtime Executive Vice President and CFO Wayne Dempsey, on Saturday, March 11, 2017. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)
Nita Tammarine reacts as she crosses the finish line during the Dempsey Dash 5K, a race celebrating the memory of Brenau's longtime Executive Vice President and CFO Wayne Dempsey, on Saturday, March 11, 2017. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Brenau Hosts Inaugural Dempsey Dash 5K in Honor of Late Executive Vice President

Mar. 11, 2017
Kristen Oliver

More than 120 runners, spectators and supporters gathered at the Brenau University Amphitheatre on Saturday morning for the inaugural Dempsey Dash 5K, celebrating the memory of the university’s longtime Executive Vice President and CFO Wayne Dempsey, who died May 2, 2014.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Wayne W. Dempsey Endowed Scholarship Fund, which provides assistance for students seeking a better life through a Brenau education in the College of Education or the College of Health Sciences.

Jason Dempsey, right, and Martha Dempsey, center wave while thanking participants in the inaugural Dempsey Dash 5K, a race celebrating the memory of Brenau's longtime Executive Vice President and CFO Wayne Dempsey, on Saturday, March 11, 2017. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Jason Dempsey, right, and Marsha Dempsey, center wave while thanking participants in the inaugural Dempsey Dash 5K, a race celebrating the memory of Brenau’s longtime Executive Vice President and CFO Wayne Dempsey, on Saturday, March 11, 2017. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

The male overall winner and first-place finisher of the inaugural race was Keith Camp, and the female overall winner was Julie Nicholson. Of the many participants and volunteers were more than a dozen of Dempsey’s family members and friends from his hometown of Rome, Georgia, including his wife, Marsha.

“It has touched our hearts tremendously,“ Marsha Dempsey said. “That Brenau wants to do something like this in his memory to benefit others is so appropriate. His life was to help other people, and he especially enjoyed working with students and enabling them to get a good education even when it was difficult.”

Dempsey’s grandchildren were actively involved in the event, including his youngest grandchildren awarding medals to the top finishers in each age group. All participants received a gift bag with their T-shirt and coupons from sponsors, plus a thank-you note from the Dempsey family.

“It is a testament to his legacy that so many people he impacted are here today, former students from Shorter College and Brenau University; friends from Rome, Gainesville and the Atlanta area and family from across the state,” the letter stated.

Dempsey was born and raised in Rome, Georgia, where he met Marsha. He came to Brenau in 2005 with new university president Ed Schrader, who was his former boss at Shorter University in his hometown. Although he was a science teacher early in his career, Dempsey’s forte became institutional management, and Schrader credits Dempsey for putting Brenau’s financial house in order.

Maddox Dempsey reacts while crossing the finish line during the Dempsey Dash 5K, a race celebrating the memory of Brenau's longtime Executive Vice President and CFO Wayne Dempsey, on Saturday, March 11, 2017. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Maddox Dempsey reacts while crossing the finish line during the Dempsey Dash 5K, a race celebrating the memory of Brenau’s longtime Executive Vice President and CFO Wayne Dempsey, on Saturday, March 11, 2017. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

His focus on decreased spending, cash flow and a developed endowment formula allowed the Women’s College enrollment to skyrocket despite the challenging financial times. The financial stability he afforded Brenau allowed the university to expand its Augusta and North Atlanta campuses and to open a new campus in Fairburn in 2009. It also grew its footprint in Gainesville with Brenau East Campus at Featherbone Communiversity and the Brenau Downtown Center.

However, Dempsey’s legacy at Brenau is greater even than the campuses he left behind. His cheerfulness, even to the end, is remembered. So, too, is his passion for fried chicken. He rarely missed a “Fried Chicken Wednesday” in the campus dining hall. His great love of music – which he expressed by using his polished singing voice and talent with orchestral instruments – led him to create the ongoing All-Steinway program, an endeavor to raise money to replace Brenau’s aged collection of pianos with fine Steinways.

The university hopes to continue his legacy through the scholarship fund in his name and the creation of this recurring event – a hope shared by Dempsey’s wife.

“I think it would be a wonderful thing to do, to continue it,” she said. “I think it was a great turnout for the very first one, and I look forward to this in the future and to raising even more money to help others.”

General inquiries: info@brenau.edu, +1-770-534-6299 or +1-800-252-5119 | Admissions: admissions@brenau.edu, +1-770-534-6100 or +1-800-252-5119 ext. 6100