Early served at Limestone from 1973 until 1979. Early also served as the President of what was then Pfeiffer College in Misenheimer, N.C. from 1969 until 1971. He left Pfeiffer to become the Executive Director for Education at the American Bankers Association in Washington. He then returned to academics to serve as the president of what was then Limestone College. He also served as president of Dakota Wesleyan University.
During Early’s term as Limestone’s 17th President, there was a significant increase in student enrollment and three buildings were constructed, including the Camp-Swofford Chapel, the George L. Stephenson Center, and the Timken Physical Education Center.
A native of Cobin, Ky., Early held several advanced degrees, including an Ed.D. from the University of Kentucky and a bachelor of divinity degree in religious education from Lexington Theological Seminary. A lifelong Methodist, he became an ordained minister in 1954, but he began preaching as a high school student.
Early was elected to the Kentucky State Legislature in 1952, where he served as assistant minority leader of the House of Representatives.
Early was preceded in death by Nancye Whaley Early, his wife of 64 years. He is survived by several daughters, sons-in-law, grandchildren, and a great-grandson.
Following Early’s tenure, Dr. William J. Briggs, Sr. served as Limestone’s president 1979-1985. Presidents to follow included Dr. Francis W. Bonner (interim, 1985-1986), Dr. G. Frederick Payne (1986-1991), Dr. Dan Champion (interim, 1991-1992), Dr. Walt Griffin (1992-2017), and Dr. Darrell Parker (2018-Present).