In an effort to assist our loyal constituents and friends, Campbell has established a planned giving website at legacy.campbell.edu. Develop a plan that coincides with your goals and to live with the security that your wishes will be met. Planned Giving Director Peter Donlon is available for a complimentary discussion to help you get started. Contact him at email@example.com, or (910) 893-1847.
Alumna Kay Bissette’s love for Campbell has translated into a lifetime of service and giving back
Kay Bissette remembers seeing the billboards during her freshman year in 1975: Campbell College; a place to be, a place to become. She had no idea at the time just how much those words would mean in her future.
She was driving to a place where she really didn’t know anybody. She had so many questions — most importantly, “Would I make friends?” and “How would I get along with my professors?” It wasn’t long until she became involved in Baptist Student Union and other club opportunities for undergraduate religious education majors. Through BSU, she thought those she met would be lifelong friends. Such an easy thought for a 20-year-old. She began to feel she had found her place.
As a sophomore work study student in the religion department, she was the student assistant for Dr. Jerry Wallace, chair of the department and future Campbell president, working alongside Vivian Simpson, his administrative assistant. Aside from being a great team, Simpson provided wonderful ministry to the students through her listening ear. She also became a role model for Bissette as she made career decisions.
The department was also made up of Dr. Perry Langston, Dr. Don Keyser, Dr. Dean Martin and others at that time. Langston became her chief advisor and major professor while she was at Campbell and learned a great deal from him. He became a friend and one she could turn to regardless of if a need arose. She fell in love with the Campbell community — loved living on campus and met friends who indeed were lifelong. So it was difficult when it came time to graduate in 1979. Her fellow students and professors had become a profound part of her life.
Bissette met her husband David in 1981 on a blind date through a friend at Southeastern Seminary, where she attended after graduating from Campbell. David, now retired, would go on to a career with FCX and Southern States Cooperative. They married in ’82 after a whirlwind romance. A fun fact— while at Southeastern, Bissette babysat the children of Dr. Bruce Powers, who would later become the associate dean at Campbell Divinity School.
Today, Bissette considers Campbell “heaven and God’s place on earth.” She says her life trajectory would have turned out very differently if it weren’t for Campbell. Her initial Campbell financial aid was facilitated by her pastor, the Rev. James Burch. That financial aid was necessary at the time, as her parents were limited in their ability to provide for her college expenses. Scholarships, grants and the additional financial aid made it possible for her to attend. And her Campbell education gave her the ability and the opportunity to become a public speaker, a writer and a leader.
It gave her confidence and showed her she could accept a challenge and develop objectives, action plans and goals. It also showed her she could achieve success in the process.
Professionally, Bissette has worked for the Baptist State Convention and the Woman’s Missionary Union, and in retirement, she volunteers with the Raleigh Baptist Association, where she recently led the Baptist Women’s World Day of Prayer Conference. She was also the coordinator of the Convention’s annual meeting. She credits these skills from lessons learned under Perry Langston while at Campbell (Langston ended up serving on the undergraduate religion faculty for 35 years until his retirement in 1986).
Bissette has since experienced the ups and downs of life with both classmates and professors over the last 47 years — Campbell football games, alumni events, weddings, children and grandchildren, professional working relationships, holiday and birthday cards, phone calls (back when long distance charges applied), letters and more recently on social media. Recently, one member of this friend group passed away, and seven of the group members were there together, and still others had also been to visit. All coming full circle since her Campbell days.
As Bissette feels that Campbell gave her so much, she has found ways to give back. She established a fund through the N.C. Baptist Foundation that goes to a Divinity School AID fund to help students with emergency needs. She has also chosen to put Campbell in her estate plans to be a part of both the legacy and the future of the school. The next time you are in Butler Chapel on campus, look in the hymnals. They have been dedicated to the memory of Dr. Perry Langston, Clara Langston and Vivian Simpson as an additional gift from Bissette.
Speaking of a legacy — her son Keith Bissette is a 2013 graduate. Although he experienced Campbell much earlier — at 2 years old and in a stroller — his mother introduced him to the community as a prospective student years later. She arranged a prospective student tour for Keith, a tour that included a lunch opportunity with Wallace, who was now president. As they discussed scholarships and gifts to the school, Keith turned to Wallace and said, “I have to fight you for my mom’s money.” They all had a good laugh.
Keith graduated in 2013 with a degree in mathematics. His mother was able to give the invocation at his graduation ceremony, which was very meaningful to the family. He later met his wife LeAnne at Trinity Baptist, and they became an item shortly after chaperoning a youth trip together.
From Dr. Jeff Roberts, senior pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Raleigh:
“Kay’s leadership in the area of missions involvement and education has been vital to Trinity’s identity. Kay led our Missions Steering Committee for more than 20 years and was instrumental in developing the Shaw Mission Fund to help our members go on mission trips. In addition, she helped us create our Trinity Baptist Church Heritage Scholarship for Campbell Divinity School. Each year the church honors a person who has been a leader in either our church or the greater Baptist family with the Baptist Heritage Award, which Kay received in 2012. In addition to the award, a donation is made to Campbell Divinity School in their honor. It is a blessing to know that many Divinity students have benefited from this scholarship.”
Chancellor Jerry Wallace on his longtime friendship with Bissette:
“I love Kay Bissette. Kay was always good to and good for Campbell through her academic career. Her closeness to faculty in the Religion and Philosophy department was apparent, especially to Dr. Perry Langston. Kay’s life has been a life of service and an inspiration to others. Kay Bissette is exhibit number one of what it means to be a winsome Baptist and a Christian.”