Rudolf Anderson, Greenville High School, Class of 1944 (awarded posthumously)
Major Rudolf Anderson, a 1944 graduate of Greenville High School, went on to graduate from Clemson University as a member of Air Force ROTC Detachment 770 in 1948. Commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, he completed Primary and Advanced pilot training and received his U.S. Air Force aeronautical rating as a pilot. He earned two Distinguished Flying Crosses for reconnaissance missions during the Korean War. After qualifying on the U-2 in 1957, he became the 4080th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing's top U-2 pilot with over 1,000 hours, making him a vital part of the United States' reconnaissance operation over Cuba in late October 1962. Major Anderson, who died when his U-2 aircraft was shot down, was the only person killed by enemy fire during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Kris Bruton, Greer High School, Class of 1989
Mr. Kris Bruton was raised in Greer by his grandmother, who instilled in him an impeccable work ethic. He graduated from Greer High School in 1989 and attended Benedict College. While at Benedict, he so impressed the men’s head basketball coach during a pick-up game he was recruited and offered an athletic scholarship. Bruton’s basketball career soared as he earned National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) First Team All-America honors and won the 1994 Slam Dunk contest as a college senior. He was drafted by the Chicago Bulls in 1994, but his NBA career was derailed by injuries. After playing basketball overseas, he signed a contract with the world-renowned Harlem Globetrotters. Bruton, AKA Hi-Lite, is currently playing in his 17th season with the Globetrotters in a career that has taken him to dozens of countries.
Matthew Cordell, Hillcrest High School, Class of 1993
Mr. Mathew Cordell, a 1993 graduate of Hillcrest High School, is an author and illustrator of children’s books. While at Hillcrest, Cordell won the school’s Art Student of the Year award and Gold Key Scholastic Art Award. Cordell studied graphic design at Winthrop University, and later moved to Chicago to pursue his passion, graphic design and the fine arts. Soon, his paintings and drawings were being shown in galleries throughout the Windy City. Cordell is the 2018 Caldecott Medal-winning author and illustrator of Wolf and the Snow, which also received a 2018 Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Award. He is the illustrator of numerous highly acclaimed children’s books, and he speaks to students at schools across the nation about the joy of writing and drawing.
Kelly Hall-Tompkins, Wade Hampton High School and the Fine Arts Center, Class of 1989
Mrs. Kelly Hall-Tompkins is a world-renowned professional violinist. She attended Wade Hampton High School and the Fine Arts Center, where she studied under the tutelage of Lenny Schranze and Jon Grier. Hall-Tompkins continued her studies at the Eastman School of Music in New York and completed graduate work at the Manhattan School of Music. She found success in professional music circles, playing more than 200 performances with the New York Philharmonic. In 2017 she was named a New Yorker of the Year. More recently, Hall-Tompkins performed on Broadway as the “Fiddler” violin soloist in the production of Fiddler on the Roof, with numerous solos written especially for her. Her philanthropic work includes the creation of Music Kitchen, where she brings chamber music performances to homeless shelters. An avid polyglot, Mrs. Hall-Tompkins speaks eight languages.
Jim Mattos, Greenville High School, Class of 1950
Mr. Jim Mattos graduated from Greenville High School in 1950 and entered Furman University as the school’s first recipient of a track scholarship. He graduated from Furman with a degree in Health and Physical Education, and earned a master’s degree in Secondary Education from Clemson University in 1972. Mattos taught physical education at Berea High School for 19 years and was honored with the highest award presented to an educator when he was chosen the 1978 South Carolina Teacher of the Year. Upon retirement from education, Mattos was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives, where he served for 10 years. In this capacity, he received numerous honors including Legislator of the Year. In 2017, Coach Mattos was inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame.