John Laney Plyler, Jr. was born in 1934, oldest son of then Greenville County Judge John L. Plyler and his wife Beatrice Dennis Plyler. John L. Plyler, Jr.’s connection to Furman University began the year he was born, as his father, a Furman alum (1913) was an instructor in business law in the department of economics and business administration, having already served as Professor of Law and Dean of the Furman Law School before it closed in 1932. John L. Plyler assumed the presidency of Furman University on January 1, 1939, just weeks before John Jr.’s fifth birthday. The family moved into the president’s home on 308 University Ridge and John Jr. grew up on Furman’s downtown Greenville campus where he and his brothers explored its buildings and became acquainted with faculty and staff.
John L. Plyler Jr. graduated from Furman in 1956 with a degree in Economics. While a student he was a member of SAE and ROTC. Plyler graduated from the United States Naval Academy and was commissioned as a reserve officer in an artillery branch of the Army. He attended the UNC Business School and graduated from Duke with a Master’s in Hospital Administration in 1970. Plyler served as CEO and COO of several hospitals before retiring in 1996 as senior vice president of SunHealth. He is a life fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives, has served two terms on Furman Advisory council, and is the recipient of Furman’s 2002 Alumni Service Award.