Deep Appreciation

Pool Gifts photo
The Poole family — Brad, Jenna, Dawson, Lynne and John -- at the dedication of the Lee and Brad Poole Aquatics Center at the USC Upstate Rec Center.

Competitive and recreational swimmers alike will be able to enjoy a top-notch swim facility for years to come thanks to a gift from two community leaders.

John and Lynne Poole of Spartanburg gave $250,000 to the USC Upstate Foundation that will help cover pool maintenance and repairs. The facility also will be renamed the Lee and Brad Poole Aquatics Center, in honor of the Pooles' two sons.

“We could not be more excited and grateful for the Poole family,” said Benita Hopkins, the university’s associate vice chancellor for Development and Alumni Affairs. “Their investment in USC Upstate will ensure our students and community have an excellent facility for maintaining their health and fitness.”

Swimming has been a significant part of the Poole family’s lifestyle for many years. It goes back to John’s collegiate career at the University of South Carolina, where he was a swimming letterman attending on a full scholarship.

After the couple left the University of South Carolina, they carried on the tradition with their sons. Brad Poole swam on club teams throughout his childhood and later earned a scholarship and a captain’s rank at Davidson College. No one cheered louder for him than his mom, who had been a varsity cheerleader for the Gamecocks.

Brad coached high school swim teams after college and then became regional sales director for a major cardiac device manufacturer. These days, he and his wife, Jenna, reside in Charlotte, North Carolina, teaching their daughter the same valuable lessons learned from her grandfather and a shared passion for swimming.

Lee Poole, 18 months older than his brother, died in 2009 at age 27. Shortly after he was born prematurely, he suffered a brain hemorrhage that left him with permanent disabilities. But his family ensured he lived a full and happy life. Lee loved attending McCarthy-Teszler School and seeing his friends, his mother recalls, and particularly enjoyed the school prom each year. He graduated from the program at 21, and stayed active at the Charles Lea Center for adults with special needs.

The brothers were close, and Lynne says her older son’s face would light up when he heard his little brother’s voice. She says Lee also loved when his father would race him through the house in his wheelchair.

That love of family, coupled with a strong commitment to giving back to the community, is reflected in the Pooles’ latest gift to USC Upstate. After many years of supporting USC Upstate students through their endowed scholarship, the Pooles wanted to dive deeper to show their appreciation.

“This is our chance to honor our two children, Lee and Brad, who are so special to us and have been an inspiration to us and many others in such different, yet meaningful ways,” the Pooles said in a statement. “It’s an opportunity to further the mission of USC Upstate; to primarily educate young people who are not only from the Upstate of South Carolina, our home for over 35 years, but who will most likely continue to reside in the Upstate upon graduation and help our local economy grow and prosper for years to come.”

The Pooles are longtime members of the Upstate community with a long record of service on many boards and organizations, including John’s more than 20 years on the USC Upstate Foundation board.