Every year, the Texas A&M Foundation’s Board of Trustees awards the Sterling C. Evans Medal to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Texas A&M University. The Foundation’s highest honor recognizes individuals who have offered significant philanthropic support, service and volunteer leadership over time to help the university remain among the world’s top public higher education institutions. Additional qualifications include motivating other individuals to support the university and a personal history of integrity and excellence. Established in 1998 and named for Sterling C. Evans ’21, the honorees receive a sterling silver medallion custom designed by James Avery Craftsman of Kerrville, Texas.
The 2020 honoree is Allan Marburger ’60, a Central Texas cattle rancher.
Allan Marburger '60 on his 800-acre ranch that spans Bastrop County.
BORN ON JULY 4: Marburger takes great pride in having been born on the nation’s birthday. An avid baseball fan, he also notes that he was born on July 4, 1939, the day that Lou Gehrig, the New York Yankees’ legendary first baseman, gave his renowned farewell speech before stepping away from the game to battle amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.
DEEP ROOTS IN CENTRAL TEXAS: Marburger’s property, which spans Bastrop County, has been in his family for generations. His great grandparents purchased some of the land in 1883, while his grandparents, August and Minnie Fuchs, purchased more in 1900. Over the years, the 800-acre ranch endured drought and experienced an anthrax outbreak among livestock. Growing up, Marburger was surrounded by cattle, sheep, chickens, geese, guineas, dogs and cats, which primed him for an agricultural career.
ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT: Marburger’s family has always been deeply committed to education. In 1895, August Fuchs joined with relatives and other area residents to fund and build the Paige School in Paige, Texas, and hire a teacher. That school educated Marburger’s mother, Elsie, and was still in use when Marburger reached school age. His father, Arthur, also served on the school’s board of trustees. The school was eventually donated to the Paige ISD.
AN AGGIE CONNECTION: Marburger’s uncle, Arthur Fuchs ’20, attended Texas A&M but left to serve in World War I as a second lieutenant and never completed his degree. Arthur’s brother, Herbert, took Marburger, then 12 years old, to an Aggie football game in 1951. That experience influenced the youngster’s college decision.
A SIGN OF THE TIMES: Like many of his classmates, Marburger was involved in various Texas A&M organizations. He was a delegate to the 1960 Memorial Student Center Student Conference on National Affairs, which focused on issues surrounding Fidel Castro and Cuba. He also participated in the Agronomy Society and the Cotton Pageant and Ball Fundraiser. A member of the Corps of Cadets and Ross Volunteers, he also represented Texas A&M at the Ralston Purina month-long summer fellowship in St. Louis, Chicago and Lake Michigan.
A RETURN TO HIS ROOTS: After graduating with an agronomy degree, Marburger worked as a crop and livestock statistician for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Austin office for almost a decade. While being recruited for a potential move to Washington, D.C., Marburger took an aptitude assessment that revealed he had a knack for working with computers, which at the time involved large mainframes. But because he wasn’t interested in pursuing that profession, he returned to his family’s ranch after working briefly with the Production Credit Association. His aversion to technology continues; to this day, Marburger doesn’t own a computer, have an email address or use text messaging.
Marburger has used oil royalties to fund hundreds of scholarships for Aggies. Most support students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, and the Corps of Cadets. Included are several of his scholars (left to right): Cheyenne Byrer '23, Jacob Muhl '20, Lauren George '20 and Jewell Glover '23.
NEGOTIATING A GOOD DEAL: In 2006, oil was discovered on land across the road from Marburger’s property, and a company soon contacted him about drilling rights. The bachelor, who prides himself on driving a hard bargain, negotiated to keep one-quarter of the royalties, which was more than the standard agreement at the time. The company eventually agreed to Marburger’s terms. The rancher deposited the royalty checks and then donated those amounts to the Texas A&M Foundation. “A lot of people who receive this award have been really successful in business. They amassed a lot of money, and they’ve given a lot of that money back to Texas A&M,” he said. “My story is different because I found my fortune in the land my ancestors acquired and passed down to me; it’s a gift that I feel fortunate to share with my Aggie family.”
INVESTING IN STUDENTS: Marburger, who has also served on the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Development Council, understands firsthand the value that scholarships play in helping students get an education. He received an Endowed Opportunity Award as a student, which provided $1,000 for four years, and paid for the remainder of his Texas A&M education by working summer jobs and raising and selling calves.
His experience led him to initially fund four Endowed Opportunity Awards and a President’s Endowed Scholarship between 1989 and 1993. After four oil wells were drilled on his property from 2007 to 2009, he began using the oil royalties to fund scholarships. By 2017, he had created even more scholarships by investing some of the royalties in a rising stock market.
Now, those scholarships—which are primarily spread across the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, the Corps of Cadets and The Association of Former Students—assist approximately 200 Aggies annually. Some of the scholarships are earmarked to support students from his hometown area in Bastrop or Lee counties. “On a farm, you plant that one seed; it germinates and comes up, and in turn, produces many seeds,” he said. “I’m trying to use my scholarships to plant a seed for Aggie students, who will bloom down the road and give something back to our society as better citizens of our state and nation.”