2021 – Debbie ’76 & John Bethancourt ’74
Debbie and John Bethancourt are lifelong, passionate supporters of Texas A&M, both partially inspired to attend the university by their former student fathers. Their multimillion-dollar giving history spans disciplines, pairing the couple’s passions with student, faculty and college needs. The couple supports multiple petroleum engineering and horticulture scholarships, a professorship, a President’s Endowed Scholarship and athletics.
They also contributed a major gift toward the Memorial Student Center renovation to name the Bethancourt Family Grand Ballroom and another toward the Aggie baseball program. In recognition, the scoreboard at Blue Bell Park is named in their honor. John, a petroleum engineering graduate of Texas A&M, is a retired Chevron Corp. executive vice president. Debbie, who studied floriculture at Texas A&M, is a member of The Gardens at Texas A&M University project task force.
In 2011, John was named a Distinguished Alumnus by The Association of Former Students. A year later, he was named an honorary Maroon Coat by the Texas A&M Foundation. John and Debbie have four children, all of whom graduated from Texas A&M, and 14 grandchildren. The couple served as co-chairs during the university’s $4.25 billion Lead by Example campaign. All four children have spouses who also graduated from Texas A&M, and two of the Bethancourts’ grandchildren are Aggies.
2021 – SuSu & Mark Fischer ’72
Raised together in the small town of Cuero, Texas, SuSu and Mark Fischer have made a big difference together in Aggieland. Mark graduated from Texas A&M with an aerospace engineering degree and worked in the petroleum industry before founding Chaparral Energy, a privately held independent oil and gas company based in Oklahoma City, with his brother Charles in 1988 and retiring in 2017. SuSu graduated from Texas State University with a degree in elementary education and has previously taught elementary and middle school.
The Fischers started giving back to Texas A&M through contributions to The Association of Former Students, the Texas A&M Foundation and the 12th Man Foundation. They made substantial contributions to support the construction of the Zachry Engineering Education Complex and the renovation of Kyle Field. Their namesake Fischer Engineering Design Center offers Aggie engineers ample space and cutting-edge resources to bring their creative ideas to life.
Mark has served on The Association of Former Students’ Board of Directors since 2013 and was named its chair in 2019. As head of Chaparral, he earned Aggie 100 honors four years in a row and an Outstanding Alumni award from the College of Engineering in 2014. The couple served as co-chairs during the university’s $4.25 billion Lead by Example campaign. Though the Fischers reside in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, they remain resolutely Texan at heart.
2021 – Amy ’84 & Tim Leach ’82
Driven to create a lasting impact at Texas A&M, Amy and Tim Leach have helped positively transform much of campus. A petroleum engineering graduate, Tim is currently the executive vice president of ConocoPhillips and former chairman and CEO of oil and gas producer Concho Resources in Midland, Texas. Amy, who studied education at Texas A&M, is involved in numerous social, charitable and faith-based projects in Midland. In addition to supporting multiple campus projects, the Leaches direct their gifts broadly across projects that improve academics, athletics and campus life.
The Leaches have invested in numerous transformative construction projects on campus. They were the first to contribute a multimillion-dollar gift to support the construction of the Zachry Engineering Education Complex and were ardent supporters of renovations to Kyle Field. Notably, the couple also helped spearhead The Gardens project with a lead gift for its first phase.
In 2017, Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Tim as a member of The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. He served as vice chairman of the board from 2019 until 2021, when he was elected chairman of the board. He was named a Distinguished Alumnus by The Association of Former Students in 2020. The Leaches also served as co-chairs during the university’s $4.25 billion Lead by Example campaign. Loyal to the community where they found success, they still call Midland, Texas home.
2020 – Allan Marburger ’60
Allan Marburger, a Central Texas cattle rancher, has funded hundreds of scholarships for Aggie students over the last three decades.
Allan initially funded four Endowed Opportunity Awards and a President’s Endowed Scholarship between 1989 and 1993. In 2006, oil was discovered on land across the road from his 800-acre property, which has been passed down through his family since 1883. A company soon contacted him about drilling rights, and he negotiated to keep one-quarter of the royalties. Over the years, he has used the proceeds from royalties to fund numerous Texas A&M scholarships.
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.
Allan has served on the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Development Council and received the college’s Outstanding Alumni Award in 2012.
2019 – Sue Harris Smith & Craig Brown ’75
Sue Harris Smith and Craig Brown have been generous patrons of numerous Texas A&M campus building projects, such as the Memorial Student Center, Zachry Engineering Education Complex, the John D. White ’70 – Robert L. Walker ’58 Music Activities Center and the Men’s/Women’s Natatorium Center. In addition, the Craig and Galen Brown Engineering Honors Program and the Craig Brown Outstanding Senior Engineering Award Program have contributed to the success of Texas A&M’s College of Engineering.
The couple’s flagship program, however, is the Craig and Galen Brown Foundation, which awards competitive scholarships to students recognized as National Merit Finalists. During the past 30 years, the couple has personally recruited and provided scholarships to more than 500 Aggies through the Brown Scholarship Program, attracting the nation’s top talent to Texas A&M. Craig and his wife, Sue, also annually recruit and provide undergraduate and graduate eight-year scholarships for 15 incoming freshmen who enter the Engineering to Medicine (E2M) Early Assurance Program.
Recently, the couple also provided a lead gift for Texas A&M’s innovative Engineering Medicine (EnMed) program, a collaboration between the colleges of engineering and medicine and Houston Methodist Hospital to train doctors with an engineering mindset.
Craig is Co-Founder and Chairman of Bray International, the world’s largest rotary valve and actuator manufacturer with 85 facilities located in more than 50 countries. He is a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus, an Outstanding Alumnus of the College of Engineering and Mays Business School, and a Corps Hall of Honor member. He also serves on the College of Engineering’s Advisory Council, the Engineering Honors Executive Committee and the Corps of Cadets Board of Visitors.
Sue serves as a board member for the Houston Methodist Academic Institute, Brighter Bites and KIPP Houston Public Schools. She is also a past president and current member of the Board of Directors of Bo’s Place. Sue is also the executive vice president of the Craig and Galen Brown Foundation and director of the EnMed Program. She is a founding member of the Translational Research Initiative at the Houston Methodist Research Institute as well as a member of the President’s Leadership Council at Houston Methodist.
Sue and Craig have seven children and nine grandchildren.
2019 – Judy Ley Allen & Robert H. “Bob” Allen ’50 (1928-2015)
Judy Ley Allen and her late husband, Bob, have provided extraordinary leadership at Texas A&M for more than 40 years. They have provided endowed funds for a professorship, a graduate fellowship and a discretionary fund for Mays Business School. They supported the expansion of the Wehner Building and the continued growth of the business honors program. They were also instrumental in helping complete the campus of the Bush School of Government and Public Service. In gratitude, the campus’ main building bears their name.
Bob, a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus, served on numerous advisory boards and councils at Texas A&M, culminating in a term as a university regent, appointed by then-Gov. George W. Bush, from 1995 to 2001. He was the former CEO of Gulf Resources & Chemical Corp., a Fortune 500 company.
Judy, one of the first women to graduate with an MBA from Harvard in 1963, started her career with an architectural firm. She later joined her brothers in the Ley family property development business, where she still works. She has served on both the Dallas Federal Reserve Board as well as its Houston branch. She has also served on many nonprofit boards, including the Rice University Board of Trustees.
2019 – Donna Walker & Dr. James “Mike” Walker ’66 (1943-2018)
Mike and Donna Walker are longtime benefactors of Texas A&M, having endowed a scholarship and graduate fellowship for mechanical engineering students. However, it was their $40 million gift in 2018 to name the departments of mechanical engineering at both Texas A&M and The University of Texas at Austin that will have the greatest impact. In recognition, both universities have renamed their departments of mechanical engineering to honor Mike and his successful career in the industry.
Mike earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Texas A&M and graduated first in his class. He went on to earn a master’s degree from The University of Texas on a National Science Foundation Fellowship before returning to Texas A&M for a Ph.D.
After college, he worked at Exxon as a subsea engineer. He later formed his own company, Dril-Quip, which specialized in offshore drilling and production equipment. When he retired as chairman, president and CEO in 2011, the company had 2,200 employees worldwide and a market cap in excess of $4 billion.
Mike was named a distinguished mechanical engineering graduate at Texas A&M and The University of Texas before his passing in late 2018.
2018 – Rhonda & Frosty Gilliam Jr. ’80
Rhonda and Frosty Gilliam are strong supporters of Texas A&M’s petroleum engineering program and the university’s football, basketball, baseball and track programs.
A native of Odessa, Texas, Frosty began working in the petroleum industry as a teenager in his father’s oil field service company before attending Texas A&M to study petroleum engineering. Eight years after graduation, Frosty founded Aghorn Energy Inc., an oil and gas exploration company, with his brother, who attended The University of Texas.
For the next two decades, Frosty focused on building his company and raising his family. In 2005, when the couple’s son Forrest “Matt” Gilliam III enrolled at Texas A&M, the Gilliams renewed their involvement with the university. Rhonda, a graduate of Sam Houston State, fully immersed herself in the Aggie culture and became active in the Sandstorm Aggie Mom’s Club in Odessa.
Rhonda and Frosty are members of the Chancellor’s Century Council and E. King Gill Award recipients, while Frosty has also served on the 12th Man Foundation Board and is involved with the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering Industry Board.
2018 – Patricha “Trisha” & Charles “Chaz” Neely ’62
The Neelys’ financial support of Texas A&M has extended to many organizations across campus, and the dedicated couple has served as some of the university’s most active ambassadors in San Antonio.
Trisha and Chaz are equally passionate about supporting academics and athletics. They have funded scholarships in Mays Business School as well as two faculty chairs in the college, including one that supports a fellow of the Hagler Institute for Advanced Study. Their generosity also extends to capital building projects and the Corps of Cadets, where numerous cadets annually benefit from their scholarships. In the athletic realm, the couple has supported projects such as the Bright Complex, Blue Bell Park, the Davis Player Development Center, the R.C. Slocum Nutrition Center and the redevelopment of Kyle Field.
As the first in his family to attend college, Chaz realized that earning a college degree would significantly increase his options personally and professionally. After positions with several companies, he purchased San Antonio Steel Co. in 1979. Through his leadership, the company grew into the largest wholesale distributor of agricultural fencing in the United States. During Chaz’s tenure as president, San Antonio Steel was named one of the Top 500 Fastest Growing Private Companies by Inc. Magazine and one of the Top 50 Private Companies in San Antonio by the San Antonio Business Journal. The company was also recognized as a winner during the inaugural Aggie 100 awards.
The Neelys have dedicated their time and leadership on several Texas A&M Foundation capital campaign committees. Chaz has further served on the 12th Man Foundation Board of Trustees and The Association of Former Students’ Board of Directors as well as the Chancellor’s Century Council, Mays Business School’s Development Council and the President’s Board of Visitors for the Corps of Cadets.
Chaz was named an Outstanding Alumnus of Mays Business School in 2005 and a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus in 2006. He was also inducted into the Corps Hall of Honor in 2013. In recognition of their lifetime of steadfast support, the Neelys were also named E. King Gill Award recipients in 2019.
2017 – Kay ’02 & Jerry Cox ’72
While the Coxes’ efforts at Texas A&M have been broad, much of their impact can be seen at Mays Business School, where they have contributed generously and served countless volunteer hours. Their fund supporting the Business Honors Program gave a huge leg up to students in the program, while part of the Wehner Building bears their names: the Jerry and Kay Cox Hall. Acknowledging the importance of strong faculty, the Houston couple also created the Jerry and Kay Cox Endowed Chair in the business school.
Jerry, former president of Cox & Perkins Exploration Inc., earned a bachelor’s degree in finance, following in the footsteps of his father, Truman ’44, who played football at Texas A&M. Kay later attended Texas A&M for an advanced degree.
The Coxes are E. King Gill Award recipients, while Jerry, a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus and Corps Hall of Honor member, has also given support and counsel in searches for top administrative positions, from university president to head football coach. In addition, he is proud of his involvement with Breakaway, a non-denominational weekly Bible study group on Texas A&M’s campus.
2017 – Susanne “Susie” & Melbern “Mel” Glasscock ’59
Susie and Mel Glasscock support a wide range of areas at Texas A&M. In addition to funding scholarships for first-generation students, they established the Melbern C. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research in the College of Liberal Arts, which awards grants and fellowships in the humanities and sponsors lecture series and other events. The Glasscocks believe the humanities are particularly important for engineering and science majors. They also endowed the center’s directorship and created the Susanne M. Glasscock Humanities Book Prize for Interdisciplinary Scholarship, awarded annually to a U.S. faculty member who publishes a scholarly work in the humanities. In addition, the Glasscocks created an endowed chair in American history to further support the liberal arts in Aggieland.
Uniquely, the couple also created the Texas A&M Foundation Trustees’ Outstanding Student Award. As he was finishing his term as a trustee for the Foundation, Mel endowed a gift that allows the trustees to annually fund a cash award to a graduating senior as a boost for their next phase of life. Recipients are primarily judged on their achievements but must have overcome personal or family financial challenges during their time on campus.
Other gifts from the Glasscocks include a President’s Endowed Scholarship, several endowed scholarships for the Corps of Cadets and an endowed Faculty Excellence Award.
After graduating from Texas A&M and serving in the Air Force, Mel began a career in the petrochemical industry and eventually founded Texas Aromatics LP, a petrochemical marketing firm. A Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus and Corps Hall of Honor member, he also served on the Texas A&M Foundation’s Board of Trustees, the 12th Man Foundation Champions Council, and the executive committees of both the One Spirit One Vision and Lead by Example campaigns.
2017 – Alice & Erle Nye ’59
The love Alice and Erle Nye feel for Texas A&M was passed down by their fathers, who were both Aggie veterinarians. In recognition of Texas A&M’s role in their lives, the Dallas-based Nyes began to give back to the university financially and with their time. Erle has served on a host of boards and committees, including the 12th Man Foundation Champions Council, the College of Engineering’s Advisory Council and the Corps of Cadets Development Committee. For 12 years, he also served on Texas A&M’s Board of Regents. The couple has funded scholarships and contributed to building funds, such as the renovation of the Memorial Student Center.
In 2005, the Nyes created the Erle Nye ’59 Chair for Engineering Excellence in the College of Engineering. The achievement that means the most to them, however, is the Alice and Erle Nye ’59 Academic Center, part of the Bright Football Complex. The 24-hour academic center provides tutors, learning labs, study areas and laptops for more than 600 student athletes on campus.
While Alice attended North Texas University for her teaching degree, Erle earned a Texas A&M degree in electrical engineering and a law degree from Southern Methodist University. In 2004, he retired as CEO of TXU Corp., the state’s largest publicly held utility company.
The Nyes are E. King Gill Award recipients, while Erle is also a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus and Corps Hall of Honor member.
2016 – Joan (1921-2020) & Thomas “Tom” Read (1920-1991)
As part of their lifelong dream to help those less fortunate, Joan and Tom Read opened Deerfoot Youth Camp in Magnolia, Texas, to serve underprivileged boys in 1978. They partnered with Texas A&M University to get support for the camp in the form of supervision, coaches and students-turned-counselors.
After attending camp for four years, attendees receive financial support if they are accepted to Texas A&M; today, more than 800 Aggies have been supported by Read scholarships. The couple also funded memorial scholarships and supported the Department of Engineering Technology & Industrial Distribution as well as the colleges of education and veterinary medicine.
Originally from Cleveland, Tom and Joan knew each other as children but married after they crossed paths again in Houston in 1956. Joan worked in a bank and later at an advertising firm, while Tom joined the U.S. Army and became a World War II bomber pilot. After the war, he worked for Crawford Fitting Co., which manufactured pipe fittings to petrochemical companies. In 1951, he founded Thomas A. Read & Co. to distribute Crawford products.
2016 – The Ed Rachal Foundation
The Ed Rachal Foundation is a Corpus Christi, Texas, nonprofit established after the deaths of Ed Rachal Jr. and his wife, Louise. A rancher from Falfurrias, Texas, Ed Rachal stipulated in his will that his estate be used to establish a foundation benefiting “charitable, scientific, literary or educational purposes within the State of Texas.”
Since his passing, the Ed Rachal Foundation has contributed millions of dollars to Texas A&M University, amounting to almost one-third of the foundation’s total distributions in its more than 50 years of existence. Its support began with scholarships for Brooks County and Falfurrias students, and has grown to include more than 30 scholarship endowments; an endowment for the Texas A&M Singing Cadets; five faculty chairs in four Texas A&M colleges; multiple professorships and faculty fellowships; and contributions to the Corps of Cadets’ Hollingsworth Leadership Excellence Program for cadets who choose corporate careers.
Additionally, in 2016, the Foundation gave a $10 million gift to name Texas A&M’s Music Activities Center after John D. White ’70 and Robert L. Walker ’58.
2015 – Verlin & Howard Kruse ’52
Verlin and Howard Kruse have established scholarships supporting the President’s Endowed Scholars Program, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the School of Public Health and student athletes. They have also provided funding for faculty professorships in the Bush School of Government and Public Service and support for the Corps of Cadets’ Leadership Excellence Program. A $9 million gift jointly made by the couple, Evelyn and Ed Kruse ’49 and Blue Bell Creameries supported the renovation of Olsen Field. In recognition, the field now bears the name C.E. “Pat” Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
Howard graduated from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 1952 and became president and CEO of Blue Bell Creameries after his brother’s retirement in 1992, running the company until his own retirement in 2004. A key player in the family’s philanthropic decisions, Verlin was a lab technician at Blue Bell when she met her husband more than 50 years ago. Howard credits the success he achieved while leading Blue Bell to Verlin’s support and devotion to their family.
Howard is a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus, a member of the Corps Hall of Honor and an Outstanding Alumnus of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
2015 – Evelyn & Edward “Ed” Kruse ’49 (1928-2015)
Evelyn and Ed Kruse have contributed scholarships supporting the President’s Endowed Scholars Program, the Sul Ross Scholarship Program and graduate students in the Bush School of Government and Public Service. They have also given several faculty fellowships supporting the Bush School and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. A $9 million gift jointly made by the couple, Verlin and Howard Kruse ’54 and Blue Bell Creameries supported the renovation of Olsen Field. In recognition, the field now bears the name C.E. “Pat” Olsen Field at Blue Bell Park.
At age 13, Ed began working for his father, E.F. Kruse, who served as Blue Bell Creameries’ CEO and president for 32 years. At Texas A&M, he pursued a degree in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and was a varsity letterman in swimming. After his father died, Ed led the company until 1992, when his brother Howard took over management.
Until his passing in 2015, Evelyn was by her husband’s side the entire time, supporting their household and professional endeavors. Ed was a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus, a member of the Corps Hall of Honor and an Outstanding Alumnus of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
2015 – Modesta & Clayton Williams Jr. ’54 (1931-2020)
Clayton and Modesta Williams have contributed more than $7 million to Texas A&M. Their most recognizable contribution is a $2.5 million gift to The Association of Former Students to help complete the organization’s headquarters, the Clayton W. Williams Jr. Alumni Center. The couple has also funded scholarships for the Corps of Cadets and supported a variety of activities, including the Berg-Hughes Center for Petroleum and Sedimentary Systems within the College of Geosciences.
Clayton graduated from Texas A&M in 1954 with a degree in animal husbandry. A jack-of-all-trades, he bred cattle, developed real estate, worked as a banker, served as a telecommunications mogul and ran for Texas governor. He later became president and CEO of Clayton Williams Energy Inc., cementing his legacy as one of the state’s most well-known oilmen.
A former model who managed a modeling school in Midland, Texas, Modesta attended Texas Tech University and studied business at Texas Christian University. She served as a director of ClayDesta National Bank and also designed the 183-acre ClayDesta Plaza.
Clayton was a member of the Corps Hall of Honor and an Outstanding Alumnus of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
2014 – Dorothy & Arthur “Artie” McFerrin Jr. ’65 (1943-2017)
Dorothy and Artie McFerrin have contributed more than $25 million to expand numerous athletic facilities on campus. While their name is featured on the McFerrin Indoor Athletic Center as well as the Cox-McFerrin Center for Aggie Basketball, they also funded the Dale Watts Cross Country Course, Bill Byrne Student Success Center, the Gary Blair Nutrition Center for women’s basketball and an athletes dining hall in the R.C. Slocum Nutrition Center. In recognition of their support of Aggie athletics, the McFerrins are E. King Gill Award recipients.
Equally passionate about student life and academic programs, the couple has also extended support to the Becky Gates Children’s Center, the Memorial Student Center renovation, the Music Activities Center, the Marilyn Kent Byrne Student Success Center in the College of Education and Human Development, and the Zachry Engineering Education Complex. In 2005, the couple committed $10 million to establish an endowed fund in the Department of Chemical Engineering, which now bears Artie’s name.
Before Artie’s passing in 2017, they also gave $10 million to support and name the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship in Mays Business School, a hub for providing training, networking and assistance to enterprising students. Since Artie’s passing, Dorothy has continued the couple’s philanthropic tradition by funding the arena for Parsons Mounted Cavalry, providing operational funds for the Thornton-McFerrin Coaching Academy and supporting the Olson Intelligence Studies Program at the Bush School of Government and Public Service.
Artie earned his chemical engineering degree in 1965 and married Dorothy a year later. In 1967, he joined Shell Oil and, two years later, he completed his master’s degree in chemical engineering at Texas A&M. A successful businessman, Artie was president of KMCO Management Inc. He was also a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus, a member of the Corps Hall of Honor, and an Outstanding Alumnus of the College of Engineering and Department of Chemical Engineering.
2014 – James “Doug” Pitcock Jr. ’49
Doug Pitcock made his first major gift to the Corps of Cadets in 2004, giving $100,000 for two General Rudder Corps Scholarships. Two years later, he founded the Corps of Cadets 21st Century Scholarships with a $1 million gift to match 10 endowments of $100,000 each. He hoped the program would create 20 new scholarships to help “diversify the Corps and ensure that future military leaders came from Texas A&M.” The program was so successful that more than 30 scholarships were started in three years and, in 2010, Doug gave another $1 million to match 10 more Corps 21 scholarships.
The first in his family to attend college, Doug chose Texas A&M because he wanted “the best education” and thought he might have to serve in World War II. The war ended when he was 18, and although he still considered a military career, he studied engineering instead.
In 1950, he married Eleanor “Puddie” Hall. Several years later, he partnered with J.K. and C.K. Williams to establish Williams Brothers Construction Co. In 1984, Doug became the company’s sole owner, chairman and chief executive officer and, under his leadership, it became one of the largest highway and bridge contractors in the state and nation, completing more than 350 projects valued at $2 billion-plus.
Doug is a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus, a member of the Corps Hall of Honor and an Outstanding Alumnus of the College of Engineering.
2013 – Reta & Harold “Bill” Haynes ’46 (1925-2009)
Reta and Bill Haynes have given more than $50 million to Texas A&M. Their gifts have established two faculty chairs in geosciences; supported numerous civil and ocean engineering graduate students; and supported Aggies through merit-based scholarships and the Haynes Scholars Program. Their donations have further created such campus landmarks as the Reta and Bill Haynes ’46 Coastal Engineering Laboratory and the Haynes Ring Plaza outside of the Clayton W. Williams, Jr. Alumni Center, where thousands of Aggies pose every year after receiving their Aggie rings.
Following his 1947 graduation, Bill put his civil engineering degree to use during a 34-year career with Standard Oil Co., now Chevron, in which he advanced to chief executive officer. After retiring from Chevron in 1981, he embarked on a 28-year consulting career for the Bechtel Corporation, the Bechtel Family and the Fremont Group. Bill was a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus and an Outstanding Alumnus of the College of Engineering.
After Bill’s passing, Reta has continued to add to the couple’s commitment in Aggieland with gifts supporting the College of Education and Human Development, the College of Engineering, the Music Activities Center and the Texas A&M Singing Cadets, Corps 21 Scholarships, the Bush School of Government and Public Service, the EnMed Program and Aggie Park. In addition, her estate gift will further grow the Haynes Scholars Program to impact many more students as well as provide increased funding for two dean’s chairs established in the College of Engineering and the College of Education and Human Development.
2013 – Patricia “Patti” (1934-2020) & Weldon Kruger ’53
Patti and Weldon Kruger have backed the university through gifts that support scholarships, study abroad experiences and building projects such as the Memorial Student Center and Sterling C. Evans Library. They have also made countless contributions to the Corps of Cadets, supporting the programs, academic excellence and leadership of the organization. A real estate gift in 2007 further created their Aggie Spirit endowment, which benefits students and organizations within the Division of Student Affairs.
The couple traces the start of their relationship to Texas A&M, where they met the day after the university’s Freshmen Ball in 1952, during which Patti had been selected Sweetheart of the Fish Class. Weldon became Corps Commander before graduating in 1953 with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in petroleum engineering, while Patti completed an English degree in 1956 from The University of Texas at Austin. As Patti worked for Hunt Oil Co., Weldon began a career at ExxonMobil and later advanced to senior executive.
Weldon is a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus, a member of the Corps Hall of Honor and an Outstanding Alumnus of the College of Engineering.
2012 – Dan Hughes ’51 (1929-2016) & Dudley Hughes ’51 (1929-2015)
In 2009, twin brothers Dan and Dudley Hughes provided the lead gift for Texas A&M’s Berg-Hughes Center for Petroleum and Sedimentary Systems. Their gift to the center enables Aggie students to conduct high-impact interdisciplinary research and education in petroleum studies.
Proud supporters of the College of Geosciences, the brothers further created faculty chairs in geosciences and geology, while Dudley also contributed to the Robert R. Berg Professorship in Geology and the William R. Bryant Oceanography Chair for Teaching, Research and Mentoring Excellence. These efforts have significantly bolstered the college’s potential to recruit and retain top-tier faculty.
In 2010, Dan also gave a $4 million gift to renovate Military Walk, rejuvenating the 1,500-foot walkway at the heart of campus in honor of the university’s history and its Corps of Cadets.
Dan and Dudley graduated with degrees in geology from Texas A&M in 1951. They built a stellar reputation in oil exploration and recovery with their company, Hughes and Hughes. When the brothers eventually decided to divide their company, Dan Hughes’ son, Dan Allen Hughes Jr. ’80, stepped in as his father’s new partner. Their business, the Dan A. Hughes Co., is headquartered in Beeville.
Both brothers were Texas A&M Distinguished Alumni.
2012 – Nancy (1927-2012) & Howard Terry (1916-2012)
In 1986, Nancy and Howard Terry founded the Terry Foundation—the largest private source of scholarships in Texas. As of 2020, the Terry Foundation had supported more than 5,000 Texas students across 13 universities. It has provided some $70.5 million in funds to 1,510 Aggies alone since 1987, primarily in the form of full scholarships.
Howard received a business degree from The University of Texas, which he attended on a football scholarship—an opportunity he would later credit as one of the most important events in his life and a major philanthropic inspiration. After graduation, he found tremendous success in the lumber, building, development and financial industries. He served as director and chairman of the executive committee of Penn Central Corporation and later founded the Terry Companies—a multistate oil and gas corporation.
A native of Ogdensburg, New York, Nancy attended the University of Rochester’s School of Nursing, graduating at the top of her class. Nancy lived a passionate, active life, pursuing hobbies such as gardening, painting and photography. In 2011, the Houston City Council proclaimed March 22 as Nancy and Howard Terry Day in honor of their contributions to the city. The couple became the first non-Texas A&M graduates to receive the Sterling C. Evans Medal in 2012.
2011 – Jack Brown ’46 (1925-2015)
Jack Brown and his late wife, Frances, contributed $5 million to name the architecturally distinct, research-enhancing Jack E. Brown Building, home to the Department of Chemical Engineering. The couple also endowed a faculty chair in engineering and made significant contributions to the Bush School of Government and Public Service, the Corps of Cadets, the Robert L. Whiting Technology Fund, the 12th Man Foundation and The Association of Former Students.
In 1943, Jack entered the U.S. Army and was among the first occupation troops in Japan during World War II. After four years of military service, Jack graduated with degrees in petroleum and mechanical engineering from Texas A&M in 1946. Soon after, he enjoyed a successful career with Wagner & Brown, a Midland-based independent oil and gas operation, and held extensive business interests in financial investments, real estate and manufacturing services.
Jack’s volunteer leadership at Texas A&M included serving on several engineering industry advisory councils and as a geographic chairman and board director for the Private Enterprise Research Center. A servant to his community, he also served on the boards of Midland College, the Midland Community Theatre and the Petroleum Museum. Jack was named an Outstanding Alumnus of the College of Engineering and was a member of the Corps Hall of Honor.
2011 – James “Jim” Nelson ’49
Jim Nelson and his late wife, Audrey, have given more than $10 million to support petroleum engineering programs. The couple chose to honor three of Jim’s former professors by naming the Harold J. Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering and the Albert B. Stevens and Robert Whiting Chairs in Petroleum Engineering. Their gifts have also created an endowed student scholarship program.
The Nelsons further endowed two Corps of Cadets scholarships, while the lobby exhibit hall in the Bright Football Complex is named in their honor.
Jim is a petroleum and mechanical engineering graduate from Texas A&M. He is former owner of Grey Wolf Drilling Company in Houston. Jim has held many offices in A&M Clubs and groups affiliated with Corps leadership, while also serving on several campus advisory boards and councils over the years.
He is a Distinguished Alumnus of Texas A&M; an Outstanding Alumnus of the College of Engineering; a Distinguished Graduate of the Texas A&M Petroleum Engineering Academy; and a member of the Corps Hall of Honor.
Since 2015, Jim has been happily remarried to Edna “Eddie” Earle Mattei.
2010 – Lowry Mays ’57
During the mid-1990s, Lowry Mays and his late wife, Peggy, contributed $15 million to the College of Business, later renamed Mays Business School. In 2009, the couple gave $7.5 million for nine endowed faculty chairs in the business school. They have continued support of the school through their Mays Family Foundation, including a $25 million gift in 2017 that was the largest in Mays Business School history. They have also given nearly $2 million to the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum.
Lowry graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in petroleum engineering. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, serving three years in the U.S. Air Force and earning a master’s degree in business from Harvard University, Lowry worked as an investment banker in San Antonio. He became owner of an FM radio station in 1972 when a borrower defaulted on a loan he co-signed. Today, he is the founder of Clear Channel Communications and a former chairman of Texas A&M’s Board of Regents.
Lowry is a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus, an Outstanding Alumnus of Mays Business School and a member of the Corps Hall of Honor.
2008 – Henry “Bartell” Zachry Jr. ’54 (1933-2020)
An avid supporter of the Corps of Cadets, Bartell Zachry Jr. funded two endowed General Rudder Corps Scholarships. His gifts and inspired thinking were the catalyst for the formation of the Corps’ Hollingsworth Leadership Excellence Program, a four-year curriculum that develops leaders of character.
He also funded two President’s Endowed Scholarships in memory of his father and, along with his family, company and foundation, created several faculty chairs, professorships and fellowships. He also funded many scholarships for exceptional civil engineering students. As a result, the Department of Civil Engineering was named in honor of the Zachry family in 2005, while the Zachry Engineering Education Complex bears the family name as well.
Bartell was a Texas A&M civil engineering graduate. He was chairman of Zachry Group Inc., a collection of companies including Zachry Construction Corp. and the Zachry Foundation. He was a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus, an Outstanding Alumnus of the College of Engineering and a member of the Corps Hall of Honor.
2006 – George Mitchell ’40 (1919-2013)
George Mitchell and his late wife, Cynthia, were among the most financially supportive benefactors in Texas A&M’s history, with involvement that spanned decades. Their gifts to the Department of Physics totaled nearly $45 million and have played a leading role in the department’s skyrocketing rise to national prominence.
They also provided major funding for the Department of Petroleum Engineering and the campus tennis center, which bears the Mitchell name. The Mitchells were also major benefactors of Texas A&M University at Galveston; among other gifts, George donated the 135 acres for its main campus, named for his father, Mike Mitchell.
George was a 1940 graduate of Texas A&M with a degree in petroleum engineering. He was former chairman and CEO of Mitchell Energy & Development Corp., one of the largest independent gas and oil producers in the nation, which merged with Devon Energy in 2002. He also founded The Woodlands, where he resided for more than 20 years, as well as the Houston Advanced Research Center.
George was a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus and member of the Corps Hall of Honor.
2005 – Jon Hagler ’58
Jon Hagler ushered in a new era in Texas A&M Foundation history through his vision of its headquarters, the Jon L. Hagler Center, as an investment in Texas A&M’s future. Among his other numerous gifts to Texas A&M are a $5 million commitment to the One Spirit One Vision campaign and the funding of 100 Foundation Excellence Award scholarships. He also made a considerable gift to the College of Education and Human Development to bolster its sports management program, while a $20 million contribution in 2017 named the Hagler Institute for Advanced Study and secured the program’s long-term ability to bring the brightest minds to study at Texas A&M.
Jon was also a leader in Texas A&M’s landmark strategic planning initiative, Vision 2020, serving as co-chair of the executive committee and later as co-chair of the advisory council.
A resident of Dover, Massachusetts, Jon was director of GMO, a Boston-based investment firm. He served on the Foundation’s Board of Trustees for seven years, serving as chairman in 1999, where he was instrumental in altering the Foundation’s investment mix to improve returns. In recognition of his dedication and leadership, the Foundation named him Trustee Emeritus in 2003; only three individuals have been awarded the honor in the organization’s 50-year history.
Outside of his Texas A&M involvement, Jon has publicly served as an executive of the Ford Foundation, an advisor to the World Bank and the Rockefeller Family Fund, and as a trustee of the Africa-America Institute. His philanthropy has also extended to institutions such as Massachusetts General Hospital and PBS, through which he has supported its “FRONTLINE” program.
Jon is also a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus and member of the Corps Hall of Honor. In the ultimate show of gratitude, Texas A&M University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Letters degree in 2015; the elite designation recognizes those who have demonstrated an extraordinary lifetime of accomplishments and a track record of public service to Aggieland and beyond.
2004 – The Late Minnie Belle and Herman Heep ’20
In the decade before his death, Herman Heep devoted himself to advancing Texas higher education. His service to the Texas A&M College Development Fund was critical to the university’s long-term success. As director of the fund, he played a lead role in launching what is now the Texas A&M Foundation. The Heeps gave the fledgling organization $250,000 between 1956 and his death in 1960.
The culmination of their devotion came in 1986, when Minnie funded the Heep Foundation, which continued to support the university. Built on West Campus in 1977 with funds from Minnie, the namesake Minnie Belle and Herman F. Heep ’20 Center houses the university’s soil and crop sciences and entomology departments. Their name also graces the 1957 Heep Laboratory Building. Known affectionately as “Old Heep,” the former biochemistry building now provides lab space for various campus disciplines.
After Minnie’s death in 1993, the Heep Foundation continued to provide more than $20 million for the benefit of Texas A&M and its agriculture and engineering agencies. The Heeps were the first couple, and Minnie the first female, to receive the Sterling C. Evans Medal.
2002 – Harvey “Bum” Bright ’43 (1920-2004)
As the former owner of the NFL Dallas Cowboys, Bum Bright made a $25 million unrestricted commitment to Texas A&M in 1997. His gift funded a matching program that helped other donors endow 25 new faculty chairs and numerous Corps of Cadets scholarships. In 2000, he pledged another $5 million to support construction at Kyle Field.
After graduating with a petroleum engineering degree in 1943, Bum served in the Army Corps of Engineers and deployed to Europe during World War II. After he returned to Texas in 1946, he invested in oil and natural gas leases, soon expanding to encompass trucking, banks and real estate. He became a millionaire before his 32nd birthday, purchased the Dallas Cowboys in 1984 and was one of the 100 wealthiest Texans in 1990.
Bum chaired Texas A&M’s Board of Regents from 1981 to 1985 and was an honorary chair of Texas A&M’s One Spirit One Vision campaign. In recognition of his generosity to Texas A&M, the Harvey R. “Bum” Bright Building, home to the university’s aerospace engineering department, bears his name. Bum was a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus and member of the Corps Hall of Honor.
2001 – Leslie “Les” Appelt ’41 (1919-2007)
Real estate developer Les Appelt gave almost $3 million to Texas A&M, including $1 million for the university’s Appelt Aggieland Visitor Center. He pledged an additional $5 million during Texas A&M’s first capital campaign, Capturing the Spirit. Fulfilled through his will, his pledge benefited the Visitor Center, the Private Enterprise Research Center, the Division of Student Affairs and undergraduate programs.
Les began building his real estate career after serving as an officer during World War II. In 1957, he founded Leslie L. Appelt & Associates. In time, he proved a state and national industry leader, serving as president of the National Society of Industrial & Office Realtors, the Houston Board of Realtors, the National Association of Realtors and as a member of the American Society of Real Estate Counselors.
Throughout his career, Les carried a deep admiration for Texas A&M and the Corps of Cadets. He was also a founding donor of the President’s Endowed Scholarship program and served as president of The Association of Former Students in 1971. He is a Texas A&M Foundation Trustee Emeritus and was a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus and member of the Corps Hall of Honor.
2000 – John Lindsey ’44 (1922-2016)
For more than 50 years, John Lindsey generously supported Aggie students, faculty and staff. As the national chairman of Texas A&M’s Capturing the Spirit campaign—the university’s first capital campaign, which raised $637 million—he inspired countless gifts to the university. A former Houston resident, he also served as a Texas A&M Foundation trustee and as a member of Texas A&M’s Board of Regents.
Called to active duty in 1943, John served as an Army officer in both Europe and the Pacific before earning his economics degree from Texas A&M in 1947. After graduation, he formed Lindsey Insurance Agency with his father and was a founding director and member of the executive committee of Southern National Bank. He also served as president of the executive committee of the Alley Theater and as vice president of the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.
John worked tirelessly to garner support for a coeducational Texas A&M, establish a university press and influence the selection of Texas A&M as the site of the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. He and his late wife, Sara, made numerous gifts, including three faculty chairs, nine scholarships and a $3 million Capturing the Spirit campaign gift. John was a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus and a member of the Corps Hall of Honor.
1998 – William “Bill” McCord ’49 (1928-1998)
Bill McCord was a first-year recipient of the Sterling C. Evans Medal, after leaving a legacy of leadership worthy of being modeled by Aggies of all ages. He held a long list of significant leadership positions at Texas A&M and gave more than $1 million to the university.
After graduating from Texas A&M with a bachelor’s degree in 1949, Bill exhibited tremendous leadership in a 46-year career with ENSERCH Corporation. His leadership garnered recognition by his colleagues through his appointments to the boards of the American Gas Association, the American Petroleum Institute and the Gas Research Institute. He was also a board member of the State Fair of Texas, the Salvation Army and the Dallas Chamber of Commerce.
At Texas A&M, Bill served on the Target 2000 Project, the development councils for engineering and business, and the Texas A&M Foundation Board of Trustees. He crowned a lifetime of service to the university by taking a lead role in Capturing the Spirit, the university’s first capital campaign, which raised $637 million.
Bill was also a Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus, an Outstanding Alumnus of the College of Engineering and a member of the Corps Hall of Honor.
1998 – Sterling Evans ’21 (1899-2001)
The first to receive the Sterling C. Evans Medal was Sterling himself. Owner of the U-Ranch in Brackettville, Texas, he was a founding trustee of the Texas A&M Foundation in 1953. A Texas A&M Distinguished Alumnus, he also served as president of Texas A&M’s Board of Directors in 1963.
Evans studied animal husbandry at Texas A&M, graduating in 1921. While working for the Texas Agricultural Extension Service at Texas A&M, Evans sojourned across the state helping extension agents and spurring the development of 4-H programs. In 1932, he was named president of the Houston-based Farm Bank for Cooperatives, where he employed innovative policies to create rewards for the bank and its rural customers. His success eventually earned him the same position at the Federal Land Bank.
Over the years, Sterling committed almost $10 million to Texas A&M. Using his banking experience, he helped found a loan fund for families who wanted to send their children to the university. He remained active in Texas A&M Foundation affairs and was the pinnacle example of a lifetime commitment to progress and excellence at Texas A&M. His efforts were not limited to personal gifts and interests; he also devoted his energies to seeking new contributors willing to work for Texas A&M and was one of the key proponents for the admittance of women alongside Gen. James Earl Rudder ’32.