Sonny Merryman Jr. to receive William H. Ruffner Medal
May 8, 2006
Virginia Tech will honor alumnus Floyd W. “Sonny” Merryman Jr. of Rustburg, Va., with the William H. Ruffner Medal during the commencement celebration on May 12.
The William H. Ruffner Medal, the university’s most prestigious honor, is awarded annually to recognize individuals who have performed notable and distinguished service to the university. Merryman will be honored for his service and leadership to Virginia Tech, his profession, and to his community.
“We are pleased to honor Sonny Merryman with this prestigious honor,” said Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger. “Through dedication, service, and contributions to the university, he has continued to show his love for Virginia Tech. His generosity has helped the university serve its students and the community.
A native of Rustburg, Va., Merryman began his entrepreneurial career as a paperboy, delivering the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Lynchburg News & Advance. In 1942, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and enrolled at Virginia Tech where he studied Animal Husbandry.
In 1953, Merryman began a career as a salesman for Smith Moore Body Company. Now he is chairman of the board of Sonny Merryman, Inc., a company based near Lynchburg, Va., that began as an enclosed back porch office of the Merryman home and has become one of the state’s largest transportation distributors.
For more than three decades, Merryman has supported the advancement of Virginia Tech and its students. His contributions have ranged from scholarships to renovations and construction of facilities on campus, including the Merryman Center athletic facility, which has been a key component in recruiting some of the top athletes in the country, which has led to the success of the athletic programs at Virginia Tech.
The Sonny Merryman Inc. Endowed Scholarship provides funding for two Campbell County residents to attend Virginia Tech, and also provides funding for two students from the surrounding area to attend Virginia Tech. In addition to student scholarships, the Merryman family has also created the Sonny Merryman Inc., Endowed Professorship in the College of Business, and contributed to the Alumni and Conference Center and the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. It is his hope that his generosity towards Virginia Tech will enable students to receive an exemplary education so they may become role models for future philanthropy.
The Virginia Tech connection with the Merryman family spans three generations. His father Floyd Merryman Sr. was a member of the class of 1924, and his son, Floyd Merryman III, graduated in 1981.
Founded in 1872 as a land-grant college, Virginia Tech is the most comprehensive university in the Commonwealth of Virginia and is among the top research universities in the nation. Today, Virginia Tech’s eight colleges are dedicated to quality, innovation, and results through teaching, research, and outreach activities. At its 2,600-acre main campus located in Blacksburg and other campus centers in Northern Virginia, Southwest Virginia, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Roanoke, Virginia Tech enrolls more than 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries in 180 academic degree programs.