For Cy Aman ’34, there’s no time like the present for giving

From Carolina Connections, Winter 2013 issue, Written by Hope Baptiste

Cy Aman
Cy Aman ’34, accompanied by his daughter, Jane Liepis, met men’s basketball coach Roy Williams ’72 before Carolina’s home game against Florida Atlantic University.

 For most of us, milestone birthdays are marked with a zero—10, 20, 30, 40, etc. But for UNC Class of 1934 alumnus Cyrus “Cy” W. Aman, his latest milestone required two!

Aman celebrated his 100th birthday on Dec. 2, 2012, and he is still checking things off his bucket list:

  • Attend basketball game in the Dean E. Smith Center
    Check. On Nov. 11, 2012, during Homecoming weekend, Aman got to see UNC defeat Florida Atlantic.
  • Meet Hall of Fame Coach Roy Williams ’72
    Check. Prior to the UNC vs. Florida Atlantic basketball game, Williams surprised Aman with birthday wishes to go along with his fourth-row seats.
  • Tour the Tar Heel Basketball museum
  • Shake hands with UNC basketball great Lenny Rosenbluth ’57 and meet the retired voice of the Tar Heels Woody Durham
    Double Check.

But as amazing as it was for him to return to UNC after nearly 30 years (he was last on campus for his 50th class reunion), Aman said the best thing about coming back was giving back.

Aman made a $100,000 gift to the University to celebrate his 100th birthday and also to mark the 100th anniversary of the General Alumni Association. Divided between Kenan-Flagler Business School, the Chancellor’s Unrestricted Fund and Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Aman’s gift is intended to keep the doors open to the future for the next generation.

Aman reminisces in the Carolina Basketball Museum prior to the UNC vs. Florida Atlantic University basketball game during Homecoming on Nov. 11, 2012.

“UNC opened doors for me to most anywhere I wanted to go,” said Aman, who graduated with a degree in accounting and retired from a career with Mason and Dixon Lines freight service. “I had been wanting to make this gift for a number of years, and I’m just glad I could do it in such a memorable way for me, my family and the University.”

While he was in Chapel Hill, Aman also visited the historic Davie Poplar, the Old Well, Kenan-Flagler Business School and the Charles Kuralt Learning Center (he said he is distantly related to late broadcast journalist and fellow alumnus Charles Kuralt ’55).

Aman said the visit also brought back vivid memories of washing dishes and waiting tables in Swain Hall when it was the campus dining hall. “When I approached my dad about going to college here, it was during the Great Depression. I recognized the challenges and I knew I was going to be pretty much on my own,” Aman said. “But my dad sent me on my way and told me: ‘OK, then, good luck to you.’ I came to Carolina and got a job in Swain to pay my tuition, and it was well worth the effort.”

A native of Onslow County in North Carolina, Aman resides in Richmond, Va. His daughter, Jane Liepis, also of Richmond, brought him down to North Carolina to visit his 95-year-old “kid” brother, Wilbur, who lives in High Point, N.C., and to visit his alma mater. Of the seven Aman children, three are still living: Cy of course, baby brother Wilbur and older sister Pauline, who turns 102 in February!

Aman said the secret to his family’s longevity is trying every day to stay sharp and stay active both physically and mentally. He played golf until he was 97, and remains involved with his community. Currently he is serving as the president of the Imperial Plaza Foundation, the service organization in his retirement community.

“It’s true what they say about time moving faster as we get older. We’ve just been fortunate to stay out ahead of it, and I intend to continue doing that as long as possible!”