We’d like to know where your life has taken you since graduation. Use the Class Notes section to tell us where you’re working, about marriages, children and successes you’ve had. Promotions, moves and what your WT education has helped you to accomplish are great things to share. Leave your own class notes in the comments section.
Class notes are printed in the West Texan Alumni Magazine.
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2009/2010 Class Notes (PDF)
Simmie Hill, a former WT basketball player, died July 13 in Pittsburgh. He was 66. Hill played two years at WT and earned All-American status in the last 1960s when the University played at the Division I level. He holds WTAMU's all-time record for career scoring average at 25.3 per game. the 6-7 forward also has five of the top 10 scoring spots in WTAMU history with a top performance on Jan. 24, 1968, where he scored 42 points in a 79-61 loss at University of Texas-El Paso. He later played for Los Angeles Stars, Miami Floridians, Dallas Chaparrals, San Diego Conquistadores and San Antonio Spurs in the American Basketball Association. He was inducted into the WT Hall of Champions in 1988.
Helen Neal '62, recognized as one of the first African American women to graduate from WT, died Oct. 15 in Amarillo. She was 86. She was a former school teacher who taught for 20 years in the Amarillo Independent School District. She started in 1964 at North Heights Elementary School and moved to Humphrey's Highland Elementary School, where she retired in 1983. She was an active member of the Johnson Chapel A.M.E. Church and the community. She served on various boards including the Northwest Texas Healthcare System Auxiliary, Amarillo Opera and the Amarillo United Citizens Forum.
Hall of Fame Inductees
Four graduates of WTAMU's Department of Communication were inducted as inaugural members of the Communication Hall of Fame Sept. 20. The four inaugural inductees include Matt Adams '91, '93, executive vice president for Insala in Dallas, Andy Justus '95, news anchor for Amarillo's KAMR TV, Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart '91, vice president of Academic Affairs at Amarillo College, and Guy P. Yates '56, '69, professor emeritus of speech communication.
Jess Lwood Dow '38, was inducted posthumously into the 2013 Divisional College Football Hall of Fame Class during special ceremonies in August. Dow, a former Buff, spent four decades at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU), where he was founder of its intercollegiate athletic program. Dow was a member of the Buff football team and was named a Little All-America fullback in 1937. After graduating he spent three seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. In 1946 he joined the faculty at SCSU and established the intercollegiate football program just two years later. During his tenure there, Dow served as a coach (football, basketball, baseball, track and golf), administrator and faculty member. He was named Coach of the Year in 1950 and 1953 by the Connecticut Sports Writers Alliance and again in 1965 by the Eastern Football Conference. He also was inducted into the NAIA Hall of Fame and the Southern Alumni Sports Hall of Fame. SCSU's outdoor athletic facility was dedicated in his honor in 1988 and bears his name-Jess Dow Field. He died in March 2003 at the age of 86.
Claude "Pal" Austin '55, has been appointed to the seven-member New Mexico Lottery Authority. He will serve in the position through June 2018. He is a real estate broker and a retired school administrator from the Clayton, N.M., school district.
Don Hodges '56, founder of Hodges Capital in Dallas, is the author of Horse Sense, Street Smarts. The book, subtitled "a common-sense collection of quotes about business and life," offers a unique perspective on business, faith, humor, perseverance, success and other aspects of daily life with quotes from Roger Staubach to Mohandas Gandhi. Horse Sense, Street Smarts is available online at HorseSenseStreetSmarts.com.
Dorothy Jones Gill '61, is the author of Memories of World War II, a memoir of her college years and the heroes of Company F, 36th Division Texas National Guard during WWII. Gill started at West Texas State Teachers College in 1939 and left her junior year to marry Joe Gill. She finally graduated in 1961 and wrote her book in 1997. The book is available on Amazon e-books.
William R. Klesse '73, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Valero Energy Corp., has been elected to the board of directors at Occidental Petroleum Corp.
Maurice Cheeks '78, former WTAMU standout and NBA star, was named head coach of the Detroit Pistons in June. He was a four-year starter and three-time MVP at WTAMU. He finished his collegiate career third on the Buffs' all-time scoring list, averaging 16.8 points per game while shooting 56.8 percent from the field as a senior. Cheeks was selected in the second round of the 1978 draft and played 15 season in the NBA. He retired as a player in 1993 and has coached with Portland, Philadelphia and Oklahoma City.
David Schaeffer '79, has been promoted to chairman of the board for First United Bank. He has served on the board of directors since 1996. He is a partner at the accounting firm of Schaeffer, Sutton, Schaeffer, Myatt and Bradley in Dimmitt and president of Frontier Capital Group, Ltd.
Michael C. Johnson '80, a motorsports photographer and writer, won first and second place in the annual American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association competition for online motorsports photography. He received first place for online action photography and second place in online people photography. He was recognized May 25 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Gary Hinders '81, has been named bank president by the Happy State Bank and Trust Co. board of directors.
Stephen Sampsell '81, is in his 32nd year as a band teacher. He has been with the Grandview School District since 2000 and has taught in Brownsville, El Paso and Kansas City, Mo. He and wife Kenna are the parents of three children-Taylor, Graham and Blaire. Sampsell enjoys teaching band and credits WTAMU and the outstanding music staff.
Earl Bledsoe '82, was assigned bishop of the Northwest Texas/New Mexico Area of the United Methodist Church, beginning Jan. 1, 2013.
Rodney B. Ruthart '87, has been appointed a board advisory member with the board of directors of Plains Bancorp/First United Bank. Ruthart, senior vice president, has been with First United Bank since 2004 and has more than 25 years of banking experience.
Michael Bain '90, has been named president of First United Bank. He joined the bank in 1992 and has more than 20 years of banking experience. He is active in the Canyon community and serves on the WTAMU Foundation board as well as the Buffalo Club.
Leah Ware '90, was named administrator of the Craig Methodist Retirement Community in April. She is a registered nurse and licensed nursing facility administrator. Ware has served in various positions at Craig since 2001-director of risk management, administrator and executive director. She also has served at The Harrington Cancer Center as manager for The Harrington Breast Center.
Betsy Tinajero '96, has been named artistic director of Kids Excel El Paso. She has been a dance instructor in the Socorro and Ysleta school districts and the El Paso Del Norte Youth Leadership Forum as well as assistant director and choreographer for "Viva! El Paso."
Drew McGarraugh '98, has joined the board of directors for FirstPerryton Bancorp and FirstBank Southwest. McGarraugh is a financial advisor with more than 10 years of experience and currently works for Ameriprise Financial Advisors. He is a certified financial planner, a chartered retirement planning counselor and a member of the Financial Planning Association.
Brenda R. Schroer '98, has been named vice president and chief accounting officer for Concho Resources, Inc. Before joining Concho Resources, Schroer worked at Ernst & Young LLP and Americas Oil & Gas.
Wes Torres '99, was named the girls basketball head coach at Midland High in April. Torres moves to Midland after five years as the head girls basketball coach at Caprock High School in Amarillo.
Marissa Pena '00, is the new suicide prevention program manager with the Army Substance Abuse Program at Fort Meade. She coordinates monthly Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training for service members, civilians, retirees, contractors and family members. She also helps with outreach and education efforts to prevent suicide.
Kasha Young '00, was named the new president/CEO of Texas Plains Federal Credit Union in February. She has more than nine years of experience with Texas Plains Federal Credit Union as its chief financial officer. She earned her certified public accountant license in 2003 and graduated from the Southwest CUNA Management School in 2009.
Andy Callens '05, is serving a one-year position as a visiting instructor in psychology at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa. He also is completing a doctorate in industrial/organizational psychology at the University of Nebraska Omaha. Callens earned a master's degree in psychology from WTAMU and a bachelor's in psychology from Eastern New Mexico University. His published research includes studies on workplace diversity and intelligence testing, and he is currently completing his dissertation research on brainstorming processes.
Two WTAMU graduates were recognized in May by Amarillo Independent School District. Sarah Kay Brent '06, was named Elementary Teacher of the Year, and Al Guardino, who completed the PACE program in 2000, was honored as Secondary Teacher of the Year. Brent teaches special education at South Georgia Elementary, and Guardino has taught algebra and geometry at Tascosa High School since 2002.
Mark Flathouse '08, is the Fort Bend County fire marshal. He also has served as a professor at a fire academy in Victoria. He is a cum laude graduate of WTAMU with a bachelor's degree in emergency management administration.
Chris Sams '08, played the romantic lead of Arnold in Mother Divine: The Musical at the New York Musical Theatre Festival in July in New York City. The musical is a collaboration by Laurel Klinger Vartabedian, a former faculty member and adjunct professor, and Bill Evans, who retired from WTAMU's music program in 2007.
Michael Wilkes '08, is the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agriculture and natural resources agent for Roberts County. He started the new position in May after spent four years as the AgriLife Extension agriculture and natural resources agent in Oldham County. Wilkes has been honored with the Early Career Award from the Texas Agricultural Agents Association and the Outstanding Youth Program Award from AgriLife Extension-District.
W. David Prescott '09, has been named to the Texas Board of Professional Geoscientists by Gov. Rick Perry. His six-year term will expire on Feb. 1, 2019. He is president of Talon/LPE LTD.
Dorothy J. Martin '11, successfully graduated basic training in July at the U.S. Naval Academy in Great Lakes, Ill.
Kaylee Farquhar '12, was named in March as the new Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agriculture and natural resources agent for Throckmorton County.
Victoria Luna '12, has been promoted to banking officer at First United Bank. She joined the bank in 2006 and has six years of banking experience. She manages the credit department for First United's three Amarillo banking centers.
Dallas Nelson '12, has joined Holman, Snell and Munsey, a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc., as a paraplanner.
Hannah Mills '13, has joined the team at Oliver Saddle Shop, where she brings rodeo sport experience and horsemanship knowledge to her responsibilities in sales to the business. She also oversees the shop's internet marketing through its website and social media. Mills was a member of the WTAMU rodeo team.
Dr. Tom Cannon died Sept. 9, 2012, in Albuquerque, N.M. He taught psychology at WTAMU and retired as a full professor in 1993. He was named a Professor Emeritus in 2011. He was 84.
RuNell "Rudy" Coons '90, died Oct. 27, 2012, in Amarillo. She taught advertising/public relations at WTAMU from 1989 until her retirement in 2003. She was 68.
Dr. Darrell Knabe '71, died Dec. 25, 2012, in Bryan, where he was a professor of animal nutrition at Texas A&M University. He was 62.
West Texas A&M University inducted six members into the coveted WT Athletic Hall of Champions during a special induction ceremony March 1. The 2012 inductees are:
. Damien Lolar-men's basketball 2005-2007
. Don Patterson-football 1948-1950
. Sarit Shenar-women's soccer 2003-2006
. James Marvin Smith-football 1950-1952
. Celeste Stevenson-women's basketball 2001-2005
. Chaun Thompson-football 1998-2002
Doyle Quisenberry '53, was presented the Office of the Secretary of Defense Award for Outstanding Achievement in recognition of his 14 years of service to military veterans through the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) organization. He also was one of 10 veterans honored for extraordinary volunteer work with the ESGR. Quisenberry retired from the Navy with the rank of Commander and lives in Virginia Beach.
Kenneth '59 and Barbara '73 Wilson celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary in October, 2012.
R.L. Robbs '65, was inducted into the Willcox, Ariz., Cowboy Hall of Fame in October, 2012, and honored by his peers for his involvement and dedication to the livestock industry at the local, state and national levels and for his stewardship and preservation of natural resources. He and his wife Sally own and manage Robbs Brangus cattle operation in Willcox.
Holly Troth '76, '93, senior associate athletic director and senor woman administration at WTAMU, retired in January after 27 years of service to the University. She joined the WTAMU staff in 1986 and retired as the second-longest tenured athletic department employee.
Michael Keller '79, has been reappointed to a six-year term of the Nursing Facility Administrators Advisory Committee by Gov. Rick Perry. The committee advises the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services on the licensing and regulation of nursing facility administrators. Keller is an assistant professor and chair of the Clinic Administration and Rehabilitation Counseling Program at the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center in Lubbock.
Dr. Anthony "Angelo" McClain '79, has been named the new Chief Executive Officer for the National Association of Social Workers and will take the leadership position for the 140,000 member association in May. As CEO, McClain will lead efforts to grow and support the social work profession in the United States.
Ruben Vargas '83, was one of 22 high school coaches from across the country named as a 2012 National Coaches of the Year by the National Federation of State High School Associations Coaches Association. Vargas, a tennis coach at Vernon High School, was recognized as one of the coaches in the top 10 boys sports.
Dr. Douglas Steele '85, was named as director of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in November, 2012. He previously served as vice president for external relations and director of extension for Montana State University.
Mike Meister '87, recently celebrated 25 years with The Price Group, a full-service marketing and advertising agency in Lubbock. Meister started as a designer with the company in 1988 and worked his way to creative director. In November 2012, he and three other shareholders purchased The Price Group, and he was named president and CEO that same month.
Michael Clawson '88, was named district AgriLife Extension administrator for district 2 in November, 2012. His office is located in the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Lubbock, which serves as headquarters for the 20-county district.
Leland Strickland '91, has been promoted to the rank of deputy police chief with the Arlington Police Department (APD). As deputy police chief, Strickland will supervise Arlington's north district. He has been with APD for 16 years and is the recipient of several awards including the Rookie of the Year, Supervisor of the Year and Distinguished Service awards.
Derrell Page '96, is the new feed division manager for Frenchman Valley Coop (FVC) in Imperial, Neb. He oversees all aspects of feed production at FVC plants in both Imperial and McCook.
Scott Bidegain '02, was confirmed by the New Mexico Senate in March to serve on the State Game Commission by a 39-0 vote. Game commissioners in New Mexico are appointed by the governor and subject to confirmation by the Senate. His term will expire Dec. 31, 2014. Bidegain works at T4 Cattle Company in Tucumcari and serves on the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association Board of Drectors.
Kirk Kear '02, was named the Region 16 Outstanding Principal of the Year in October, 2012. He was nominated and chosen by his peers within the region based on his exemplary performance and outstanding leadership. He is a principal at Canyon Junior High.
Chis Sumampow '03, is the head of the public relations division for the government of North Sulawesi Province, Indonesia.
Paul Hart '04, joined the men's soccer program at the University of California at Santa Barbara as the new goalkeeper coach. He played with the WTAMU men's soccer team and professionally for Queens Park Rangers Football Club.
Joy L. Newton '04, received the 2012 Student Activity Award at the November Entomological Society of America's 60th annual meeting in Knoxville, Tenn. The annual award recognizes outstanding contributions by a student to the Society, his/her academic department and the community while achieving academic excellence. Newton is the IPM coordinator for the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension.
Ty Houston '06, has been promoted to assistant vice president at First United Bank and serves as a lending officer for the Seminole Banking Center. Houston joined First United Bank in 2009 and has four years of banking experience. In his spare time, Houston volunteers as an ambassador for the Seminole Chamber of Commerce and is a board member for the Lions Club. For the past three years he has served as the team captain of the bank's Relay for Life team.
Michelle Resendez Mata '06, was elected chapter president of the San Antonio chapter of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD). San Antonio ASTD is a non-profit professional association dedicated to supporting individuals in the field of workplace learning and performance. She also is starting her Texas Tech University as a graduate student in the Master of Education program.
Erin Smith '10, and Lindsay Chandler '04, were both recognized by the Texas Business Women of Amarillo as Emerging Professionals. Smith was recognized in August, 2012. She is a field service representative at Officewise Furniture and Supply. She is involved in Amarillo Young Professionals and Women's Council and is the TBW chair for Texas Women to Watch. She also is a loaned executive for United Way. Chandler was honored in September, 2012. She is co-owner of Chandler Insurance Agency in Hereford.
Brandi Dill '11, married Geoffrey Chase Snyder on May 12, 2012. She works in communication and marketing for a family business in Abilene.
Adam Marks '11, is the corporate purchasing agent for Big Tex Trailers in Mt. Pleasant. He is the agent for the Big Tex Trailers plants in Cordelle, Ga., and in Caldwell, Idaho. He and his wife Emily celebrated their first anniversary in January.
Tabatha Taylor '12, will be traveling the world this summer as the 2013 AQHA International Intern. She will travel to 11 countries and 15 horse camps throughout Europe. She will visit Norway, Sweden, Austria, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Denmark, the UK, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Slovenia.
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