February 22, 2013
'Double Impact': Comers Create Memorial Scholarship, and Open IT Center
Bill Comer, ’82, accounting, and his wife Nancy, ’79, ’80, nursing, hail originally from Union, S.C., where the growth of USC-Union is as near and dear to them as progress on the Columbia campus.
Their recently endowed memorial scholarship expresses their passion for both. In honor of Bill’s parents, The Marshall and Juanita Comer Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund
provides financial assistance to USC-Union
students transferring to Columbia in order to complete bachelor’s degrees in business
“Nancy and I are glad to help the University of South Carolina in this way,” Comer said. “My father and mother instilled in us a great appreciation for education, and always encouraged and supported our educational endeavors. USC prepared us well, and as a result, Nancy and I have shared careers that have afforded us experiences about which we only dreamed growing up in Union.”
Marshall Comer was a member of the SC House of Representatives and a tireless advocate for Union. He worked as hard in his hometown textile mill, church, and family-owned insurance business, as he did representing Union residents, his son said. He was also instrumental in establishing USC-Union through his work on the Union County Delegation with the Commission on Higher Education, and always had a strong interest in USC-Union’s continued active presence in the community.
Comer’s Belief in Carolina Leads to New Innovista Tenant
The memorial scholarship is one of two ways the Comers are making a difference at Carolina. In November, American Specialty Health
, with headquarters in San Diego where Bill serves as CFO, opened a new health technology innovation center in the IT-oLogy@Innovista building
on Gervais Street. Employing 15 to start, Comer hopes the site—focused on information technology to develop mobile applications for specialty health care programs—will eventually become an east coast operations center for the company that has 1,000 employees.
Even better, Comer said American Specialty Health will collaborate with USC’s College of Engineering and Computing and Arnold School of Public Health. The company’s focus on specialty health, including wellness, fitness and physical medicine, fits nicely with the Arnold School’s innovations in exercise and overall wellness. Six seniors in Computer Science are already participating in two collaboratively designed Capstone research and development projects for credit toward their degree.
“The University has worked with us on a close basis since 2011, identifying opportunities to develop a talent pool at Innovista that will be beneficial for us all,” Comer said.
The difference that giving back can make to create a strong workforce in the health fields is always close to Bill and Nancy. The day that his father died in 2006, Comer said his mother suffered a heart attack. While hospitalized and unable to attend Marshall’s funeral service, a nurse who was caring for his mother told her that while attending nursing school and working full-time, Marshall helped make her financial burdens bearable by paying her insurance premiums for a time. She was an insurance customer of the family.
“My father stepped in to help someone he knew,” Comer said. “She was one of many people from Union that my father and mother helped over the years, which is why giving back is so important for us now.” Our intent is to live by my parents’ example.
–Larry Di Giovanni, Development Communications