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Before they married, both Sylvia ’88 and Raul Fernandez ’59 came from families that stressed the importance of getting an education. Both of their fathers were unable to attend college after losing their own fathers, forcing them to work to support their mothers. Both of their mothers were raised in Mexico at a time when girls rarely attended class past elementary school.
Thanks to their parents’ encouragement, though, Raul earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Texas A&M while Sylvia earned degrees from The University of Alabama and The University of Texas at San Antonio before receiving her Ph.D. in educational administration from Texas A&M.
In gratitude to their parents and the teachers who backed them throughout their educational careers, the couple established the Mr. and Mrs. William Chapman Pena Endowed Memorial Scholarship named in honor of Sylvia’s parents. Their gift provides scholarships to first-generation students in the College of Education and Human Development who are pursuing a teaching certification.
“We attribute our success to hundreds of dedicated, caring, loving teachers who encouraged us to become lifelong learners,” Sylvia said. “We want to encourage those pursuing a degree in education by letting them know how important it is to have chosen a career that will not only impact, but often change, people’s lives. Texas A&M has richly enhanced our lives, and we can think of no greater way to honor the legacy of our beloved parents who loved God, country, family and education.”
When Dr. Cindy Green Weber ’84 thinks of her parents, she remembers their honesty, patriotism, strong work ethic and exemplary faith. While her father, Homer Green, proudly served in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division during World War II and Vietnam, her mother, Wilma, supported Homer from the home front. He retired from the military after 22 years of service.
Due to Homer’s circumstances growing up during the Great Depression, he received most of his higher education during his military service. In order to create more opportunities for veterans seeking a college education, Cindy and her husband, Tony Weber ’84, created the Wilma and Homer Green Aggie Veteran Freedom Scholarship to support Aggie student veterans.
“My parents loved Texas A&M and visited often,” Cindy said. “They supported the school while I was a student and in turn, Texas A&M treated my parents with much respect. My parents valued education, supported the U.S. military and loved America; therefore, it is so appropriate that their legacy includes helping others who share that passion.”
Throughout his career as a computer science educator, Dr. Walter Daugherity has impacted students’ lives by instilling in them his curiosity for computing, particularly quantum computing and artificial intelligence. Even when teaching large lecture halls full of Aggies, his passion for his field is contagious.
“I saw him counsel students many times over the years,” said Dr. Ronald G. Ward ’73, his colleague. “He earnestly cared about the students and wanted them to succeed.” As part of Daugherity’s retirement celebration, Ward and another colleague, Dr. Dilma Da Silva, were compelled to recognize Daugherity’s work through a gift that would encourage students to pursue a career in computer science. Together, they created the Dr. Walter Daugherity Endowed Scholarship fund for Aggie undergraduates studying computer science and engineering.
The fund was partially established to invite Daugherity’s former students, which number in the thousands, to participate in celebrating his legacy as an educator. “We chose to start this gift to provide his former students with an easy way to honor his dedication to their success,” Da Silva added. “Scholarships play a big role in helping students carve time in the day to work on their course projects and explore the field of computing, and we hope this gift enables more students to study at Texas A&M.”
Regina Beard, assistant vice chancellor for health services and clinical associate professor in the Texas A&M colleges of nursing and medicine, said her parents inspired her to enter the medical field. Her father, James Watts, was a medic in the U.S. Army while her mother, Vera Watts, aspired to be a nurse before circumstances led her to become a home health assistant instead.
“Watching me become a nurse was my mother’s greatest joy,” Regina said. “I allowed her to fulfill her dreams through me.” Grateful for the values her parents instilled in her and the opportunities they gave, Regina established the Vera and James Watts Endowed Nursing Scholarship for undergraduate and graduate students in Texas A&M’s College of Nursing.
Regina wants the scholarship to provide opportunities for future nurses that her mother did not have and stand as a testament to the values her parents passed down to her. “My mom and dad instilled in me a love for people and a desire to care for others,” she added. “They both taught me to appreciate what I have been given, and that made me want to give back a small part of what I have been blessed with to someone else.”
Brothers John and Tom Ritchey ’85 grew up in College Station rooting for the Aggies in every sports venue, whether on the field, court or diamond. Tom went on to graduate from Texas A&M with a bachelor’s degree in management, while John has enjoyed a 36-year career with Olin Corporation (formerly Dow Chemical Company.) Both siblings have had children attend and graduate from Texas A&M.
When their parents, Peggy and Willis Ritchey ’68, decided to make a gift to Texas A&M, they thought it best to name the gift in honor of their sons and customize it to benefit students who would lead similar career paths. Thus, they established the Tom Ritchey ’85 and John Ritchey Endowed Scholarship as a Christmas gift for their sons in 2017. The scholarship supports undergraduate students in the Department of Management at Mays Business School.
As former employees of Texas A&M, the Ritcheys have a longstanding, special connection to the university. “We have always felt a call to support Aggie students,” said Peggy. “As Tom and John both have children among Texas A&M’s alumni, this gift provides a way for them to stay in touch with their hometown and to continue to support their alma mater and the alma mater of their children.”
Ruth Neely cared. She cared for her husband, Bill ’52, whom she met while the two attended high school in Dallas, married during his junior year studying chemical engineering at Texas A&M University and loved diligently for 61 years. She cared for people enough that she became a registered nurse at age 42, working with world-renowned surgeons practicing state-of-the-art medical practices to heal patients more effectively. She cared for her family, sewing blankets and offering warmth whenever her children needed it most.
Texas A&M has always been near and dear to the Neely family, of which there are currently 16 former students and counting. After Ruth succumbed to cancer in 2011, Bill chose to honor his wife’s life and work by establishing three endowed undergraduate scholarships and a graduate fellowship to support Aggie students pursuing nursing degrees. He funded his gift to the Texas A&M Foundation through a charitable remainder unitrust.
“I owe my career to the education I received at Texas A&M, and I couldn’t have attended without a scholarship,” Bill said. “Likewise, I know Ruth would be pleased with the opportunity to help Aggie students become nurses.”
Owen Gent ’40 was a cattle rancher—like many generations of Gent men before him—and the first in that line to earn a college degree when he graduated from Texas A&M. He served in World War II alongside many other Aggies, during which his family’s land was obtained by the government to become part of Fort Hood. As a result, he remained in the U.S. Air Force after the war for a 26-year career before teaching public school for 15 years.
Andrea Gent ’07 was a sophomore pre-law student known for her optimism, compassion and everlasting smile. Tragically, she died at 19 years old from injuries sustained in a car accident. Because he could not travel to be by his granddaughter’s side in the hospital, Owen sent his Aggie ring instead. “Shortly before she passed, I knew Andrea would never have an Aggie ring of her own, so I put my 1975 ring and my father’s 1940 ring on her hand,” said David Gent ’75, Andrea’s father and Owen’s son. “For that moment, we were all together in spirit.”
To remember two beloved family members and Aggies, David and his wife, Joyce, established the Owen Fred Gent 1940 Memorial Endowed Scholarship for animal science students and the Andrea Grace Gent ’07 President’s Endowed Scholarship for high-achieving students.
“We hope the recipients of Owen’s scholarship will raise cattle, like my father always dreamed about while he was serving his country,” David said. “Andrea’s scholarship can be used for any course of study, and we have been pleased to see the variety of careers chosen by our recipients. We see some of Andrea’s Aggie Spirit in each one.”
A former Aggie Yell Leader, decorated Vietnam veteran and successful attorney, W. Mike Baggett ’68 has strived to be a loving family man as much as a model businessman. For him and his son, Carl Baggett ’96, family bonding time often meant a journey back to Aggieland.
“Some of our greatest memories as a family revolve around Texas A&M, be it going to Midnight Yell Practice or attending Muster or an Aggie football game,” Carl said. “We felt it only right to make a gift in his name.”
Carl and his wife, Dee Ann ’95, established the W. Mike Baggett ’68 Business Honors Endowed Scholarship to benefit students in the Business Honors Program at Mays Business School. To reflect Mike’s passion for sports, preference will be given to students who participated in high school football, basketball or baseball.
For more than 25 years, Martha Muckleroy ’94 has led Camp Adventure, a two-week day camp at Texas A&M University sponsored by the Department of Health and Kinesiology. Thanks to her service, children ages 8 to 12 in the Bryan-College Station community have enjoyed this fun and affordable outdoor adventure camp, where current Texas A&M health and kinesiology students also have the opportunity to get hands-on experience by working as camp counselors.
Her dedication has left such an impression that Daniel Gomez ’04, program director for the camp and a coach on Texas A&M’s judo team, spearheaded an initiative along with his wife, Lorinda Gomez ’04, to honor Martha. After Dr. Deanna Kennedy ’05, a colleague, mentioned the idea of naming a scholarship for Martha, they created the Martha Muckleroy ’94 Camp Adventure Endowed Scholarship together with other contributors to support undergraduate health and kinesiology majors who work as student counselors at Camp Adventure.
“Martha is one of the greats,” Daniel said. “Thanks to her dedicated service, there has been an affordable camp for kids in our community and a place for Aggies to work and gain experience. This scholarship honors her by continuing to help the health and kinesiology students who are so vital to Camp Adventure. We hope that future Aggies who work at the camp can pass forward what they learn in camp and school.”
Not one year after her graduation, Taylor Butler ’19 gave her parents an anniversary gift they’ll never forget. Both Leasa ’86 and Kurt Butler ’86 graduated from Texas A&M with degrees in petroleum engineering. Their passion for their work inspired Taylor to follow in their footsteps from a young age. With the help of several scholarships funded by former students, Taylor earned her petroleum engineering degree from her parents’ alma mater and accepted an offer to work for Southwestern Energy in Houston.
To show her gratitude for both her parents and the Aggies who made her education possible, Taylor created an endowed petroleum engineering scholarship of her own in Leasa and Kurt’s names. To her parents’ surprise, Taylor presented the scholarship in honor of their 25th wedding anniversary.
“Taylor has always been generous, but to establish such a wonderful gift so soon after graduation is incredible,” Leasa said. “We couldn’t be prouder of her. It is such an honor to be the namesakes of her gift.”
Six days after Lily Voelkel was born, doctors performed open-heart surgery to treat her several congenital defects. Her parents, Christi ’98 and Texas A&M Foundation President Tyson Voelkel ’96, learned that she would need special care and several critical surgeries during the following years. She was later diagnosed with CHARGE syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that took her life at age three. Despite her health challenges, Lily’s life was full of love and tenderness.
“Lily was unforgettable, courageous and unconditionally loving,” Christi said. “Her life gave us perspective in ways that are impossible to put into words.”
Grateful for the time she was in their lives and inspired to help others, the Voelkels established an endowed scholarship for students pursuing a special education degree in the College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M University.
“The field of deaf blind education consists of a small circle of passionate people who want to impact lives,” Tyson said. “By sharing Lily’s story with the next generation of caregivers, we hope to inspire courage, persistence and faith that make for a meaningful life. In addition to a positive financial impact for the recipients, we hope this scholarship offers students a chance for a more personal connection and deeper appreciation for the field of study and work they pursue because of Lily’s story and the example of her caregivers.”
Mary “Mary Jo” ’78 and Billy “Bill” Lay ’53 have been around the world and back but call Aggieland home. After Bill graduated from Texas A&M and entered the U.S. Air Force, he soon found himself stationed at Bryan Air Force Base less than 10 miles from campus. There, he met and married Mary Jo.
In the 64 years since, both became career educators at Texas A&M, where Mary Jo lectured for 17 years and Bill served as the Director of Admissions for more than 20 years. Their three Aggie daughters have also had careers in public education, inspiring the couple to establish the Karan Wester ’77, Mary Jane Petty ’83 and Kathryn Smith ’87 Global Study Scholarship for students pursuing a teaching certification in the College of Education and Human Development.
“As career educators, we have seen how important it is for people to receive a quality education, and global study expands those horizons,” Mary Jo said. “Since our retirement, we have had the good fortune of visiting all seven continents and all 50 states. We hope that the experiences gained through global studies will provide our new teachers with a better understanding of the people, history, culture and educational systems of the country visited. Well trained teachers are our most important assets; they are our hope for future generations.”
Though Dana Kristin “Kris” Kilpatrick was not a veteran or an Aggie, she held a deep love and appreciation for the military and for Texas A&M University. Her father, the late Robert L. “Bob” Kilpatrick ’61, graduated from Texas A&M with a business degree before serving two years in the U.S. Army, while her brother, Robert “Alan” Kilpatrick ’87, earned an engineering technology degree. Additionally, her grandfather, R.E. Kilpatrick, would have also earned a Texas A&M degree if not for financial struggles.
After Kris passed away in 2015, Bob and his wife, Shirley, decided their daughter would have wanted her legacy to be one of serving well those who have served. They established the Dana Kristin Kilpatrick Aggie Veteran Patriot Scholarship to provide support to veterans and spouses of veterans attending Texas A&M.
“This gift is our way of honoring those who serve and keeping the memory of Kris alive,” Shirley said. “I know she would be proud to have her name associated with a special connection to Texas A&M and to know that this gift will help veterans in need.”
For Glynna ’80 and Bob Leiper, honorary gifts to Texas A&M University allow the couple to pay tribute to those they care about by supporting initiatives they’re passionate about. So far, the Leipers have given not one, not two, but three endowed scholarships honoring their closest loved ones.
“We wanted to pay it forward as much as we could to help others,” Glynna said. “This way, we will continue having a positive impact even after we are gone.” While their son, Chad ’17, pursued degrees in biomedical science and business, he also participated in the Singing Cadets, Texas A&M’s premier men’s chorus. Recognizing the lessons he learned from the experience, Glynna and Bob established a scholarship for members of the Singing Cadets in Chad’s name.
For their daughter, Kelsey ’12, who graduated with a business administration degree, the couple created a scholarship for first-generation students at Mays Business School. Finally, the Leipers honored Bob’s mother, Frances Wright Leiper, a lifelong elementary teacher, with a scholarship for students in the College of Education and Human Development pursuing a Pre-K through sixth grade teaching certification.
Wilford “Billy” Pickard ’56 may have never suited up for the Aggie football team, but his dedication to the team earned him a venerable legacy in Texas A&M athletic history. Nine years after he graduated from the university with a degree in physical education, Billy returned to Aggieland as a head athletic trainer under coach Gene Stallings and diligently served the athletic department for more than 50 years under 10 different head coaches until his passing in 2015. For his contributions, Pickard was inducted into the Texas A&M Letterman’s Association Hall of Honor.
“Billy Pickard epitomized the core values of Texas A&M University,” said athletic trainer Andi Tate ’03. In honor of the man dubbed the “Keeper of Kyle Field,” Tate, Rena Frank, and Billy’s son, Kevin, have committed to creating the Billy Pickard ’56 Endowed Memorial Graduate Scholarship in Athletic Training for Aggies pursuing a master’s degree in athletic training.
“We want future generations of Texas A&M athletic trainers to know Billy’s contributions and legacy,” said Frank, noting that additional funds are still needed for the endowment to reach its minimum goal of $25,000. “Our hope is enough money is raised to provide a full scholarship to one or more athletic training students to alleviate their financial burdens.”
If you would like to help carry on Billy Pickard’s legacy of service, visit give.am/Pickard.
When Michael Beach ’74 passed away unexpectedly of viral pneumonia while serving on the USS Roark, his father, Texas A&M professor William “Bill” Beach, suggested establishing an endowed scholarship in his son’s memory to the rest of the family.
“My father didn’t believe in flowers,” Sally ’81, Bill’s daughter, said. “Flowers are beautiful, but they die. My father wanted Mike to be memorialized by something that could live on.”
Seven years later, Bill died at age 60, leaving his wife, Lois, son, Dan ’78, and Sally with considerable heartbreak and a big choice. Education was always emphasized in the Beach household, so Lois and Sally decided to make something good of the family tragedies and establish endowed scholarships for both Michael and Bill.
Together, the two scholarships have already helped dozens of Aggie students gain college degrees, with the Michael Beach Scholarship specifically benefiting Texas A&M Naval ROTC students. Lois and Sally have pledged further gifts in their wills to supplement the two scholarships, allowing for each to have an even bigger impact in the future.
When Laura ’00 and Cordt Cashen ’98 ’01 had their sons, Kellan and Canon, both were delivered premature and spent prolonged time in the NICU. Canon, born a full three months pre-term, had lung disease, heart and intestinal surgeries, bacterial meningitis and blood infections. The family worried about the boys’ long-term health, but thankfully neither experienced complications and are both happy and healthy today.
Eager to show their gratitude through generosity, Candice and Richard “Rick” Cashen ’02, the boys’ grandparents, established the Canon and Kellen Cashen Aggie ACHIEVE Endowed Scholarship in the College of Education and Human Development. The scholarship supports students enrolled in the Aggie ACHIEVE program, a four-year postsecondary track at Texas A&M University for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“Service to others is something my family values greatly,” Cordt said. “When my parents were approached to support the program, it was an easy decision for them. Canon could have been one of the young students that would attend the program, had it not been for the heroic efforts of my wife, neonatologists, NICU nurses, and most importantly, God.”
Thankful for their family and the university that brings them closer, the Cashens are proudly giving the gift of an Aggie education to students with special needs.
For siblings Susan and Peter Gerlich ’73, the story of their scholarships started with one of love during wartime. Their father, R.W. Gerlich ’40, had recently graduated from Texas A&M University and was stationed near Hershey, Pennsylvania, while he waited to deploy to Europe during World War II.
On a visit to a local ice-skating rink, he met Clara Ream, with whom he quickly fell in love, sparking a romance that followed him through written correspondence overseas. Six months after V-E Day, Clara and R.W. left Hershey, married in Waco and resettled in Texas, where they raised their two children.
In 1996, Susan and Peter honored their parents’ memory by establishing an Endowed Opportunity Award in their names; in 2016, they added to that legacy by creating a second scholarship for Texas A&M student veterans. “Since they put both of us through college, we wanted to do that for someone else,” Peter said. A story that began with a chance meeting between an Aggie grad and a Pennsylvania girl now continues in the lives of every student impacted by the Gerlichs’ scholarships.
Even though he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force before he finished high school, CMSgt Franklin G. Williams prioritized education during his 23 years of service and instilled that value in his family.
Though Williams did not attend Texas A&M, his daughter, Karen Hunter ’85, credits him for her becoming an Aggie. “Military service was a part of who he was, and we were a military family,” Karen said. “From my first visit, Texas A&M felt like home to me.”
Williams received numerous commendations from the Air Force for his work as a mechanic and later an expert on transistors, circuitry, electronics and computers. After retiring from the service, he worked 25 years for Texas Instruments.
Two months after her father passed away, a speech from Col. Jerry Smith ’82, director of Texas A&M’s Veteran Resource & Support Center, inspired Karen, her husband, Cary ’87, and their children, Katy ’15 and Craig ’16, to establish the CMSgt Franklin G. Williams (USAF) Memorial Aggie Veteran Honor Scholarship benefiting student veterans.
“I learned about hard work, dependability, being humble and overall about being a good person from my father’s example,” Karen added. “We want this gift to lessen the burden of tuition costs and allow student veterans more time and energy to focus on their studies.”
Siblings Robert D. ’91 and Graham W. Bacon ’85 remember their father, Graham R. Bacon ’55, as a humble and hard-working man who rarely brought attention to himself. A chemical engineering graduate from Texas A&M, Graham R. worked more than 40 years in the petrochemical industry during the early growth of the plastics industry.
More than his career accomplishments, his legacy was of being a good listener and an excellent role model for his sons. His example inspired both of his sons to earn chemical engineering degrees from his alma mater. To honor his memory, Graham and his wife, Margaret ’85, along with Robert and his wife, Amy ’91, established the Graham R. Bacon ’55 Scholarship for Aggie students seeking a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering.
“We chose to honor our dad with this gift because of the profound impact he had on both of our lives,” Robert said. “It’s great to know that our dad’s name will continue to be honored in the chemical engineering department as part of this gift, and we hope this gift will continue to help aspiring chemical engineers succeed in fulfilling their dreams. Texas A&M and chemical engineering were very important parts of his life.”
A gift in memory or in honor of a spouse, parent, sibling, relative or friend is a generous and thoughtful way to recognize a loved one while also supporting Texas A&M University. Many individuals even use honorary or memorial gifts as a way to celebrate important life milestones, such as birthdays, graduations or anniversaries. Honorary and memorial gifts to the Texas A&M Foundation can be tailored to fit the interests and values of your loved one, making it a true extension of that person’s life and accomplishments. Discover the different ways that your gift can create a living legacy for someone who has made an undeniable difference in your life.
Discover how you can create a living legacy for someone you love
Ways you can give
When you create an endowed fund to benefit Texas A&M University, we invest your gift with a goal to preserve its principal while increasing charitable distributions each year. If you want to see your honorary or memorial gift have an effect during yours or your honoree’s lifetime, a current gift of cash or securities might be the best option. Endowments begin at $25,000; you can choose to give a lump sum or pledge a gift to be completed in five years. You can name your fund in memory or honor of your loved one and direct it to support your loved one’s passions, such as a certain field of study. Whatever you choose to support, your gift will create an everlasting and powerful legacy in your honoree’s name, given the long-term financial impact of endowments.Learn more
Through a gift in your estate, you can choose to honor a loved one after your lifetime. There are many types of planned gifts that can be tailored to fit your unique needs and interests; many also offer financial benefits during your lifetime. Planned gifts can also be named in memory or honor of your loved one and directed to support your loved one’s passions. Planned gifts are an essential pipeline of support for Texas A&M University, meaning that your loved one’s legacy will play a major role in the university’s future.Learn more
The Texas A&M Foundation accepts check donations of any size in memory or honor of a loved one. Simply mail us your check made out to the “Texas A&M Foundation,” and include the form below specifying the honoree’s name or memorial information and the address of the honoree or next of kin. We’ll notify them of the gift made in their honor.
Please note: If no contact information is provided, we cannot guarantee that your honoree or next of kin will be notified.Complete the form
The Texas A&M Foundation also accepts online credit card donations made in memory or honor of someone. If you choose to make an online credit card donation, you can donate to the account of your choice—there are hundreds to choose from which may reflect your loved one’s passions—or select the “General Memorial”. Funds from the General Memorial account support student scholarships. You can make a one-time gift in someone’s honor or set up a recurring payment. Please include the honoree’s name and address or the address of the next of kin in the “This gift is in honor of someone special” section of the online giving form. We’ll notify them of the gift made in their honor.
Please note: If no contact information is provided, we cannot guarantee that your honoree or next of kin will be notified.Give now
Is there someone you’d like to honor with a memorial or honorary gift to the Texas A&M Foundation?
If so, please fill out the form below.