Joachim Gauck, the president of the Federal Republic of Germany, awarded the Order of Merit First Class to Barry Spurlock, the chairman of the board of the Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta. Spurlock, a Georgia Tech alumnus (ME 1965) is a friend of and donor to the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.
The highest civilian honor was awarded to Spurlock for his outstanding philanthropic leadership fostering German-American cultural relations in the Southeastern United States. Consul Olaf Ladegast presented the decoration to Spurlock during the 40th Anniversary Ball of the Goethe-Zentrum Atlanta on August 27, 2016.
“For more than a decade, Barry Spurlock has been one of the most dedicated contributors to the German-American cause in the southeastern United States,” Ladegast said. “He has been instrumental in shaping the Goethe-Zentrum in Atlanta and his invaluable contributions made it possible that the Goethe-Zentrum can present the image of a modern Germany to the community in the region.”
After his election as Chairman of the Board of the Goethe-Zentrum in 2007, Spurlock used his leadership skills to guide the institution out of its financial crisis and to pave new ways for the language classes and an intensified commitment to volunteer work.
Spurlock has also dedicated his time to being an active member and board member of the German Church in Atlanta for more than two decades, serving as its treasurer.
In his reply, Spurlock told the audience that his enthusiasm for all things German started with his love for German automobiles.
“When I began restoring a Mercedes-Benz in the 1970s and discovered that the only manuals I had were in German, I just had to enroll in a German class at the Goethe-Zentrum,” Spurlock said.
His affection for German-American relations is evident in his continued support of the German program in the Ivan Allen College School of Modern Languages at the Georgia Institute of Technology where he provides financial support as well as mentorship for young students. Spurlock, a Georgia Tech alumnus (ME 1965) established the Spurlock Study Abroad Scholarship Endowment Fund with his wife, Gail Spurlock, in 2012. The fund enables students enrolled in the Georgia Tech’s German and German Languages for Business and Technology (LBAT) programs to study in Germany for a semester.
“The future of the transatlantic relations will need to be maintained by future generations,” Spurlock said. “This is why my wife Gail and I helped to underwrite a scholarship for German students at my alma mater.”