Unsung heroes: Donald "Mr. Dee" Fuller
Most students would not be able to guess that the lively tutor clarifying their math problems in the Learning Center is actually 73 years old. Donald Fuller, better known as Mr. Dee, has an animated, youthful presence that inspires students every day.
Since 2001, Mr. Dee has worked in the Learning Center helping students with their homework. He covers everything from physics to mathematics.
“When I first started here, the Learning Center was just a little cubby hole on the first floor of Lanier,” Mr. Dee said. “I was really needed, and I would come in four days a week and stay until eight or nine o’clock at night. The school has evolved so much since then—the school itself and the students.”
When Mr. Dee was one-year-old, his family moved to Milledgeville from Pennsylvania because his father got a job as head of the business department at GC.
Eventually, Mr. Dee graduated from the University of Georgia with an English degree, received his master’s in English, then joined the Navy and taught English at the Naval Academy.
He met his wife, Katherine “Kathe” Mclean, through his mother.
“I was still in the Navy, and my mother told me there was this great girl in town,” Mr. Dee said. “I wanted a girl to come home to when I got out of the Navy, so I just wrote her a letter out of the blue, and we started writing to each other for a few months.”
When he came back to Milledgeville after returning from the Navy, she was there waiting for him. They will celebrate their 48th wedding anniversary this year.
After returning home, he went back to school, this time focusing on mathematics. He taught math at what is now the University of North Georgia in Gainesville for 27 years.
Mr. Dee also has a strong interest in the news. He said he reads The Colonnade every week and underlines what he finds interesting so that he can go home and show his wife.
Mr. Dee keeps his newspapers in a briefcase, but he will eagerly hop out of his chair to get them and show you which articles stood out enough to be underlined.
In the mornings, Mr. Dee reads The New York Times online while Kathe reads The Washington Post. They both send each other any articles that they find interesting.
As for Mr. Dee’s energetic demeanor, physical fitness is a tremendous contributor.
He started running when he was in graduate school in 1965. He was writing his master’s thesis in English and did not have time for sports, so he found something that he could do any time of day at any place.
“They did not even make running shoes back when I started, but discovering running was like taking a magic pill,” Mr. Dee said. “If they did make pills that made you feel like that, they’d be illegal!”
Due to hip replacement surgery and back issues, his running career has to come to an end, but this has not stopped him from continuing to be active. He walks three miles every night and goes to BodyPlex. His wife also takes walks and does Pilates.
“Going out and least walking for a half hour every day changes everything,” Mr. Dee said. “I am convinced that once you start making yourself do it, you will want to on your own. It’s just getting over that first hurtle.”
Students and faculty have taken notice of the spirit that Mr. Dee adds to the school.
“Mr. Dee is a living legacy with the LC,” said Jeanne Haslam, director of the Learning Center. “He is so dedicated to our students and their success. Every single student who has the pleasure of his help walks away with better content knowledge, genuine encouragement and increased confidence with their subject matter.”
Due to his teaching and tutoring experience, he also helps to improve the skills of the other tutors in the LC.
“He takes such interest in his fellow tutors as well and provides them with wonderful insights into the world of math and higher education, mentors them in their work and has blessed us all with his devotion to GC,” Haslam said.
The other tutors are grateful to have him around.
“Mr. Dee brings a great energy into the Learning Center,” said sophomore Halle Jankowski, an accounting major who tutors in the LC. “He is eager to help students with any math-based questions they may have.”
Any student who is struggling with mathematics, or who just wants to have an insightful conversation, should go to the Learning Center Monday, Tuesday or Thursday and sit down with Mr. Dee.