Riverside Military Academy

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Riverside Military Academy is a private, college preparatory, boarding and day school for boys in grades 7 through 12. Riverside's 206-acre (0.83 km2) campus is located on Lake Sidney Lanier at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Gainesville, Georgia, United States. Its academic year runs from August through May. Each summer, Riverside hosts a four-week summer school program which may be attended by boys from any high school.

Riverside Military Academy
2001 Riverside Drive
Gainesville, Georgia
United States
Type Private military boarding school
Motto Mens Sana In Corpore Sano (Latin), A Sound Mind in a Sound Body (English)
Established 1907
President COL William J. Gallagher, U.S. Army, Ret.
Grades 7-12
Gender Boys
Enrollment 520
Campus Rural
Mascot Eagle
Nickname Eagles
Newspaper Reveille
Yearbook Bayonet


Riverside Military Academy, began with two Gainesville businessmen and professors, Haywood Jefferson Pearce and Azor Warner Van Hoose, Jr. Pearce was president of the local women's school, Brenau College, and based upon his success there, these men gathered support from more than 30 local investors to charter an all-male, military school. As a result, construction for Riverside Military Academy began in 1907. The doors opened in the fall of 1908.

By 1913 the 25-acre campus included two brick buildings and a small wooden cottage. That same year, Pearce needed to fill a vacancy in Riverside's administration and discovered Sandy Beaver, a talented young educator in Stone Mountain, Georgia.

Once at Riverside, the early years of Beaver's presidency were hectic. In the spring of 1916, Lanier Hall, the administration building, burned. Arrangements were made to transfer the students to Chick Springs Military School in South Carolina, and Riverside was closed for rebuilding. Beaver's primary job was to secure funding for the rebuilding. Using the property as collateral, he borrowed $15,000 to repair Lanier Hall. By September 1917 the facilities had been rearranged so that a mess hall, kitchen, office, and classrooms were set up on the first floor of South Barracks and the second and third floors were used for dormitories for the 40 enrolled students. Work on rebuilding Lanier Hall continued throughout the year with many "Bull Ring" hours being served by cadets going toward the rebuilding. The work was finished in the summer of 1918.

In the 1920s, Riverside cadets and faculty continued to work hard and reap the rewards. Riverside became an official JROTC program in 1923 and earned its first Honor School designation in 1925. It was one of only ten such schools designated by the Secretary of War, and the only one in the South. The post-World War I faculty included Lloyd D. Brown, who commanded the 28th Infantry Division in World War II.[1]

General Beaver's son, Colonel John L. "Judge" Beaver, graduated in 1929, went on to serve in World War II, and was awarded the Bronze Star. He later served as superintendent from 1946 to 1963, when he retired. He was chairman of the RMA Board of Trustees from 1969 to 1993. John Beaver is credited with increasing Riverside's assets during the 24-year period of his chairmanship nearly eight-fold, providing the school with a secure financial base larger than that of many colleges and universities.

To assist in the expansion of the facilities and thereby to increase the size of the student body, the people and merchants of Gainesville donated matching funds during the 1920s, which over the next decade helped put the Academy on solid financial footing. Local residents also purchased from the Georgia Power Company about 40 acres of land bordering the northern boundary of the Academy property for the construction of a nine-hole golf course. It was used for about 12 years, but during the Depression the course was used very little and the Academy eventually bought the land in 1935. An area of approximately 35 acres was also purchased by the Academy, so that between 1923 and 1936 the Academy added enough land to bring the campus up to approximately 200 acres.

Hard times descended on the nation during the 1930s. Riverside, however, benefited from the frugal stewardship of Sandy Beaver. It was during these lean years that Riverside managed to enter a golden era. It had long been General Beaver's dream to create a Riverside campus in Florida and move the students and faculty there during the rough, cold winter months in the Georgia mountains. Three properties were available, and Beaver settled on a 200-room, three-story hotel in Hollywood that had been built in 1928 to house guests who wanted the Florida sunshine but did not want to be on the ocean. The building's original cost was $800,000, but because it was idle after only one season's use, the corporation owning the property was eager to sell and get out of paying the yearly property taxes. On that basis General Beaver proceeded with the real estate coup of the century – he purchased the property for the total sum of $10. To complete the campus, a nearby school, which had been built by the city of Hollywood, but never used, was leased by Riverside for $150 a season. Riverside furnished desks, tables, chairs, blackboards, etc., but later installed these in its own facilities which were built in 1937 on property acquired south of the original circle.

The idea of two campuses and spending three months a year in Florida was attractive to parents and cadets. Enrollment increased and additional facilities were necessary at both locations. By the late 1930s both were of approximately equal size and capable of handling student bodies of about 600 students. This size of the student body was maintained until the end of World War II.

During the 1930s, many apple dishes were featured on the Riverside menu. The forward-thinking General Beaver invested in a Georgia apple orchard, but rain, drought, low prices, and poor apples all contrived over several years to render it a poor investment. However, the cadets benefited from more than an apple a day, and Beaver eventually managed to unload the venture without a loss.

It was in the early 1930s that Sandy Beaver earned the rank of general. Eugene Talmadge was elected governor of Georgia and, in appreciation for services rendered, he appointed Beaver a brigadier general in the Georgia State Militia. Because of his knowledge of languages, Beaver had been appointed in the 1920s as a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve of the United States, Staff Specialist Section. Governor Talmadge also honored Beaver with an appointment to the board of regents of the University System of Georgia. He was soon named chairman of the education committee, and later served as chairman of the board.

On April 6, 1936, a devastating tornado struck Gainesville. The storm killed 200 people and the town lay in ruins. Riverside cadets who had just returned from the Florida campus marched downtown to the rescue and provided protection against looting until the National Guard arrived. Other cadets served as infirmary assistants and ham radio operators, and one even assisted the local undertaker. It was one of Riverside's finest hours.

During the WWII era, interest in military schools exploded and enrollment leaped to nearly 800. RMA added a junior college and graduates received commissions as 2nd lieutenants. The Fuseliers Honor Military Society, a voluntary special drill platoon, was created in 1947. Meanwhile, the students remained in Gainesville throughout the academic year as travel was curtailed. During those years, from 1942 to 1947, the Florida campus was leased to the Navy for use as an aerial gunnery school. Over 2,000 graduates of RMA served in World War II and 77 alumni lost their lives in the war.

In 1941 Riverside Military Academy Inc. was incorporated as a nonprofit Georgia corporation, and soon thereafter received a determination from the predecessor to the Internal Revenue Service of its charitable tax-exempt status. A board of trustees was formed, and minutes show that the first board meeting was on June 30, 1941. Membership consisted of Beaver, president; John H. Hosch, secretary; A.C. Wheeler; Hammond Johnson; John L. Beaver; and Annice L. Beaver. Records show that these members remained on the board until 1976. The custom was for the board to meet only once a year in May, at which time General Beaver reported on the school year. It is understood from oral history that General Beaver ran the school nearly single-handedly and the board's role in the school’s operations was minimal.

The 1950s were marked by strong enrollment in the post-WW II years and during the Korean War.

A notable personality arrived at Riverside in 1951 by the name of Col. William D. Maginnis, who came from Gulf Coast Military Academy. He joined the staff as head football coach and epitomized the Academy's motto of "Mens Sana in Corpore Sano,” that is, "A sound mind in a sound body." For more than 42 years Maginnis served in the positions of coach, athletic director, principal, and eventually superintendent.

On January 5, 1959, after the cadets arrived at the winter campus in Florida, a fire broke out in the main building, which was evacuated. The cadets stood by for the rest of the day, and were in dire straits over the following night in the town, forced to make out as best they could.The next morning, they were grouped together, and bussed back to the Gainesville campus. The cadets were allowed to choose whether to go home, or to stay while the campus was made suitable for winter occupancy. Most opted for the former. A week or so later, classes resumed. The Florida campus was shut down permanently.

The 1960s began with a scare as General Beaver suffered a heart attack. Legend has it that he maintained it was only indigestion, but by diet and sensible exercise he recovered and lived until the close of the decade. He died at the age of 86 on December 7, 1969. Of his passing, one of his students wrote, "General Sandy Beaver died without an enemy in the world; he had outlived all of them!" Thanks to the visionary strategy and strong financial foundation laid by General Beaver, Riverside was able to weather the societal storm that negatively affected so many military schools in the 1960s and 70s. More than a schoolmaster, he was the school's chief strategist and his mark remained well beyond his death. He was succeeded by Col. James K. Mooney as head of the Academy, the first of eight men (including two interim heads) who would lead Riverside over the next 40 years.

With the death of General Beaver, membership on the board of trustees changed. John L. Beaver left the faculty due to illness in 1963; he remained on the board and became chairman at the time of his father's death. He was joined by his sisters, Louise Beaver Chandler and Lucile Beaver. Frank Wiegand, a local Gainesville stockbroker, also joined the board.

The Academy weathered the anti-military climate of the 1970s and maintained enrollment. New buildings were built on the Gainesville campus, including the impressive John L. Beaver Field House, which was completed in 1982. The 1980s marked the close of the Florida campus on March 23, 1984, bringing to an end an era of dual campuses and school at the beach. Urban sprawl had encroached upon the campus to the degree that safety and security for the cadets became a concern. The sale price of $8 million, however, was not a disappointment.

By 1992 membership on the board still included Heywood Hosch, Lucile Beaver, Louise Beaver Chandler and Frank Wiegand. Gainesville representation came from local media mogul John Jacobs, '40, who served for 30 years. Other alumni on the board included Don Misner, '53, of McLean, VA; and Jerry Blackstock, '62, of Atlanta. This board was responsible for the design, financing, and rebuilding of the present-day Riverside campus.

The 1990s were not an easy era for Riverside and military schools in general. Since the 1960s, military schools had waned in popularity and struggled financially with low enrollment. Confronted by shrinking enrollment and outdated facilities in need of maintenance and repair, between 1998 and 2000, RMA borrowed approximately $85 million through the issuance of the Series 1999 Bonds and the Series 2000 Bonds. The Academy spent another $20 million from the endowment to essentially rebuild the entire campus. The rebuilding program began in 1997 and was completed in 2004.

The famous Riverside endowment was created with proceeds from profitable investments made by General Beaver and later by Col. J. L. Beaver, Sandy Beaver's son. The endowment grew from $15 million to more than $120 million. Historically, the endowment was used to supplement tuition revenue to operate the school. It was a known fact that every cadet's tuition was paid, in part, out of the endowment, thereby keeping their parents' costs artificially low. An independent and forceful leader, General Beaver felt Riverside should be self-sufficient and operate without the financial support of alumni or donors. He was known to have torn up checks or returned them, if a well-meaning supporter sent in a donation. Consequently, Riverside did not cultivate effective relationships with its alumni until the early 2000s.

Colonel William J. Gallagher, USA (Ret.) became the ninth President of Riverside Military Academy on June 1, 2016.


Riverside Military Academy's Corps of Cadets consists of over 500 students from 22 countries.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ Army-Navy-Air Force Register and Defense Times, Army and Navy Register, Volume 68, October 16, 1920, page 407
  2. ^ http://www.vopm.net
  3. ^ Panacrédito.do préstamos rápidos
  4. ^ "Backlash Against U.S. in Iran Seems to Gather Force After Nuclear Deal". The New York Times. November 3, 2015. 

Coordinates: 34°19′44″N 83°49′59″W / 34.32888°N 83.83311°W / 34.32888; -83.83311