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Alumni Profile: Claude Dillard '86

Following his graduation from Rabun Gap and the University of Georgia, Claude Dillard '86 has been an active alocal community member. He currently serves as the President of the Rabun County Bank, where he has been working for the past 34 years, and began his tenure as Mayor of the City of Dillard this year. While at Rabun Gap, Claude competed on our State Championship Cross Country team and was a member of the tennis team. When looking back at his time at Rabun Gap, he remembers the friendships he made and the classmates and teachers who helped him along the way! 

Tell us what you have been doing since graduating from Rabun Gap.
I graduated from the University of Georgia and feel incredibly fortunate that I was able to come back home to work at Rabun County Bank where I have been for the last 34 years. Last year I took on two new roles as I began serving as President of Rabun County Bank and also started my tenure as Mayor of the City of Dillard.  My wife, DeeDee, is an educator and basketball coach for the Rabun County School District. In September, we will celebrate 29 years of marriage! We have two children - Bryce is on the coaching staff for the women's basketball team at the University of Alabama, and Bailey is currently teaching kindergarten in Buford but will be moving back home to teach at Rabun County Primary School in August.
What is something interesting about you that we wouldn't find on your resume? 
Southern Gospel music is near to my heart, but not quite as much as my grandmother's strawberry pie, which I enjoy baking with fresh strawberries from Osage Farm. I have 9 brothers and sisters and my least favorite thing to do is visiting the dentist office.
How did Rabun Gap help to prepare you or influence your future goals? 
I felt like I was as prepared as my fellow peers when I went to college. The teachers at Rabun Gap were always willing to help, and I felt like they genuinely cared about my education. The smaller class sizes were beneficial for me with the learning process, especially in the more advanced academic classes since I was able to receive more one-on-one assistance.
Do you have a favorite memory from your time at Rabun Gap? 
I have too many great memories to mention from my time at Rabun Gap, but most of them involve my best friend, Stephen Arbitter. We still talk about the “good times” in high school and all the “stuff” we got into.  Sports have always been an integral part of my life, and winning the State Championship in Cross-Country during my senior year was definitely memorable. Our tennis team also advanced to the State Semi-Finals, and I still play tennis to this day whenever I have the chance. I think for me, what I remember most were the friendships I had as well as the great classmates who helped me along the way. 
Is there a specific faculty member or coach who had a particularly important impact on you? 
Morris Brown, Don Arbitter and Mary Frank Yates were all my favorite educators at Rabun Gap.  Morris Brown was a wonderful man who truly cared for everyone and was respected by all. Don Arbitter was a tremendous tennis coach but an even better Bible teacher and person! Mary Frank Yates was an incredible math teacher who treated me like I was her own and made me feel like I could accomplish anything. 
What advice do you have for current Rabun Gap students that you wish someone had told you during your time at school? 
My advice to current Rabun Gap students would be "Don’t be afraid!"
Don’t be afraid to try new is good to step outside your comfort zone!
Don’t be afraid to ask questions...most people are just like you and don’t know the answer either!
Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know something...we all learn everyday! 
Don’t be afraid to admit you made a mistake...that is how we grow!
What would you like to see happen at Rabun Gap in the next 10 years? 
I absolutely love seeing the growth Rabun Gap-Nacoochee has made over the last several years. The school is a very important part of our community, and I look forward to seeing the “Rabun Gap” story continue to unfold for our new generation of students, faculty, staff, and alumni.
Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School is a private, coeducational day and boarding school for grades Pre-K through 12. Centrally located between Atlanta, GA, Greenville, SC, and Asheville, NC, we prepare young people for college, career, and a lifetime of leadership and service.