Buzzing about Benedictine: Crider '71 gives ultimate legacy gift to alma mater

By Noell Barnidge

Mr. Fretwell Goer “Buzz” Crider, Jr., Benedictine Military School Class of 1971, and his wife, Sandy, made the ultimate legacy gift by joining BC’s 1902 Heritage Society.

A legacy gift is a planned future gift that designates some part of an individual’s estate as a donation to a nonprofit. Legacy gifts enable individuals to create a powerful philanthropic legacy by making a direct impact on the causes that are important to them. The 1902 Heritage Society recognizes those who have made a commitment to Benedictine through a planned gift, through bequests (gifts by will), life insurance policies and life income gifts (annuities and trusts).

“I’m the person I am today, whether it be personally or professionally, as a result of my time at Benedictine,” said Crider, 66, a salesman for Veritiv Corporation, a Fortune 500 company that is a leading North American business-to-business distributor of packaging, and print and publishing products. He lives and works in Savannah for Veritiv’s corporate office in Jacksonville, Fla.

Crider was nicknamed “Buzz” by his mother because “I was running all over the house when I was a youngster,” he said. “The next thing I know, I’m Buzz, and I’ve been that ever since.”

Crider has a lifelong connection with Benedictine. He and Sandy are celebrating 41 years of marriage this year. They met at the wedding of his best friend, Joe Herb (BC Class of 1970), and “we fell for each other right away,” he said. They have two children: Matthew (BC Class of 2001) and Brian (BC Class of 2002). Crider’s brother, Doyle, graduated from BC in 1972. Their uncle, John Lyons, graduated from BC in 1941. “He fought in World War II,” Crider proudly said. “When he came back from World War II, he got a scholarship to The Citadel.”

Crider, a past board member of the Benedictine Alumni Association, said leaving a portion of his estate to Benedictine Military School was a logical decision.

“My wife is committed to Benedictine, too,” he said. “She loves Benedictine. She went to Savannah Christian years ago but she fell in love with BC. She didn’t have much of a choice, you know what I mean? It wasn’t a hard sell when it came time for our sons to go to high school.”

Through the years, the monks have changed but the mission of Benedictine has remained the same: to form and educate young men from diverse backgrounds, support a deeper commitment to their faith, prepare them for life through a quality academic program, and instill leadership skills through a JROTC program, athletics, extra-curricular activities and community service. Crider said he and Sandy had no doubt that their sons would thrive at Benedictine.

“The older you get, the more you realize how important an education is, a Catholic education, an education like Benedictine and what comes along with it,” he said. “Sandy and I have done plenty for our boys over the years, and we plan to continue doing more for them now and in the future, but I just felt like I wanted to leave something for Benedictine, which gave so much to me. And my wife agreed.”

Crider said the late Fr. Albert Bickerstaff, O.S.B., had a profound impact on his life. Fr. Albert, as he is affectionately known, was a beloved teacher, coach, mentor and counselor to thousands of BC Cadets. He came to BC in 1967 when the Benedictines from Latrobe, Pa., assumed the responsibility of Benedictine Military School. Fr. Albert served BC until his passing from cancer in 2003. BC’s new synthetic-turf athletic field is named in his memory.

“Fr. Albert Bickerstaff had a big influence on me, and on a lot of my classmates,” Crider said. “Fr. Albert, my freshman year, came down to Benedictine from Latrobe, Pa., and Benedictine flourished with the Benedictines from Latrobe coming in. What a guy he was. I’m looking through an annual right now, looking at him, and he was probably in his late ‘20s, and here we are, 16, 17, 18, and we could relate to him. You know how it is. Not that you couldn’t relate to the other teachers but when they’re the younger person on the staff they go the extra mile to reach out to you. My whole experience at Benedictine, I had good days and bad days but the good days far, far outweighed the good days.”

At BC, Crider played football and baseball. “I’ve got the annual open in front of me,” he said, laughing. “Let me see what Buzz Crider did. Honor Roll. Spanish Club. Student Council. Honor Society. Boys State Delegate. You don’t need all this. ‘B’ Club - that was the letterman club. Optimist Youth. Captain of the football team in 1971. We went 8-2, Jim Walsh’s first year. We had a heck of a year.”

Crider said Fr. Albert wanted him to attend the University of Notre Dame but Crider said he knew in his heart that his path was from Benedictine was onward to Athens.

“He knew right away that I was college material,” Crider said of Bickerstaff. “I graduated from the University of Georgia in 1975 and a lot of that had to do with his influence. He loved Notre Dame, but I wasn’t going to Notre Dame. I was going to Georgia.”

Crider earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at UGA before working in the advertising business (radio and television). After a few years, he “got into the paper packaging business and I’ve been in that ever since, 38 years,” he said.

His days at Benedictine were magical, Crider said. The memories remain vivid.

“Just the relationships I forged in my four years at Benedictine with my classmates and teammates and the faculty and the coaches and the monks … it was just four of the greatest years of my life,” he said. “I just couldn’t really pinpoint one thing. I played for Jim Walsh his first year. That was exciting. That was memorable. I played for Vic Mell his last year. That was exciting and memorable. I got to know the priests there and, I’ll be honest with you, they made me the man I am today.”

Crider said he looks at Benedictine now with all of its growth, from an enrollment of 400-plus Cadets to the creation of the Brown STEM Wing, and marvels at how far BC has come in such a relatively short time. The catalyst, be believes, is the people who have a passion for BC.

“BC grads, that’s all I hang around with,” he said. “I’m very, very selective. I’ve got enough friends and they’re all BC guys. My friends, over the years, have remained BC guys. BC is like a big fraternity. I wasn’t in a fraternity at the University of Georgia. BC is like a big fraternity. We’ll welcome anybody. We’ll welcome you, man. You don’t have to be Catholic. You don’t have to be Irish. You don’t have to be this or that or the other. We’ll welcome you. If you want to come into our family, you come on in. We’ll welcome you with open arms.”

To become a member of the 1902 Heritage Society, simply inform the Advancement Office in writing that you have named Benedictine Military School as a beneficiary in your financial or estate plans. If you have named Benedictine Military School in your estate plans, please notify Director of Advancement Mr. Greg Markiton ’92 at (912) 644-7016 or