BLUEFIELD, Va. — The Quota Club of South Bluefield roast of retiring Concord University President Dr. Jerry Beasley turned into more of a marshmallow roast Friday night at Fincastle Country Club as Beasley’s associates couldn’t seem to find anything bad to say about the 22-year veteran college president.

Dr. J. Douglas “Doug” Machesney came about as close as anyone to get the roast simmering, but what proved to be a good set-up about Beasley’s death defying interstate driving routine turned out to be little more than a lesson in multi-tasking at 70 miles-per-hour. Of course, Machesney and Beasley have been friends for 40 years, and it had to be hard to find anything bad to say about someone who likes to hike and read.

Machesney tried though, by calling a 15-mile walk into the Cranberry Wilderness Backcountry a “march from hell,” and saying that Beasley stores books under his bed at home.

“I met him 40 years ago in a bookstore,” Machesney said. After taking a few soft jabs at his friend and colleague, Machesney said: “I know of no other person that has the compassion for people that Jerry Beasley has. He turns the proverbial lemons into lemonade.”

The crowd of more than 100 people gathered for the event were probably waiting for retired Navy Commander H.D. “Bart” Harvey to fire a few volleys over Beasley’s prow, but it just didn’t happen. Harvey was working in the administration of former Concord President Dr. Joe Marsh when he met Beasley, and the worst thing he could recall about that time was that Beasley “knew more big words than the rest of us.”

Harvey did take a swing at Beasley’s golf game by implying that he once won a “closest to the tee” contest, but for the most part, Harvey was kind to his long-time friend and associate. “One thing he won’t be recognized for is running a football school,” Harvey quipped.

A.A. “Al” Modena, served as master of ceremonies. Past Quota honorees include Katharine Tierney (1986), Dr. J. Elliot Blaydes (1987), R.E. “Perk” Perkinson (1988), Al Land (1989), Dr. James Bailey (1990), Mrs. Bea C. Paine (1991), Dr. Robert B. Miller (1993), R.W. “Buz” Wilkinson (1994), Nelson Walker (1996), June Shott (1998), Paul Cole (1999), Charlie Peters (2000), Marshall Miller (2001), Annette Osborne (2002), Dr. T. Keith Edwards (2003), Nick Ameli (2004), Norris and Doris Sue Kantor (2005), and Jim Jones (2006).

Modena spoke of everything Jerry and his wife Jean Beasley have done for the community through the years they lived in Athens and served Concord University. “Admired and loved by many,” Modena said.

Ted Rogers, chair of the CU presidential search committee brought down the house with a sort of caveman, sort of Mike Ditka poking fun at Ricky Williams’ dreadlocks look that drew a lot of laughs. Perhaps the biggest jab Rogers landed was pretending to get a cell phone call from President George Bush and claiming that the president wanted to talk with Beasley. “He must not have made his quota either,” Rogers said. He then presented a “Silver Tongue Award” to Beasley.

Beasley appeared laid-back and relaxed in his response. He commented on what a “good day today has been in Bluefield and Mercer County” starting with the Rotary pancake breakfast in Princeton, the inauguration of Dr. David Olive as the ninth president of Bluefield College and his roast. But there was a great deal of warmth in his tone as he discussed the good work Quota International does through its support of WE CAN, Energy Express, TASK, the Alice Kennedy Transitional Living Center, the West Virginia Kiddie Fair, the West Virginia Youth Deaf Camp, Healthy Families and its own scholarship fund.

“Basically, what we (as college presidents) do is ask people to help our institutions,” Beasley said. “As I look out on your faces tonight, all of you have responded when I’ve asked. The purposes of Quota aren’t small purposes. What you’re about is our community.”

Pat Miller, president of Quota gave the welcome and Donna Kelly, second vice president of Quota provided closing remarks. Beasley was accompanied at the roast by his wife, Jean.

— Contact Bill Archer at barcher@bdtonline.com