ACU Remembers: Ruby Guy

Ruby Guy 2x3 96Ruby Dell (Bonham) Guy, whose long career at Abilene Christian University inspired an annual award to recognize members of its staff who embody selfless service, lived in Grapevine, Texas, and died Jan. 25, 2015, in North Richland Hills at age 87.

A funeral service will be held today at 2 p.m. at the Highland Church of Christ (425 Highland Avenue, Abilene, TX 79605). Services are under the direction of Elmwood Funeral Home. Burial will follow at Elmwood Memorial Park.

Guy was born Oct. 24, 1927, in rural Arkansas, but grew up in Delhi, Okla, where she graduated from high school and worked on the family farm. On Dec. 14, 1946, in Erick, Okla., she married Leroy Guy, a disabled Korean War veteran who later was hospitalized for many of the 50 years they were married.

The couple farmed for several years before moving with their four children to Abilene in 1964, where she became a longtime member of Highland Church of Christ. Ruby worked at ACU for 37 years in the business and registrar offices, and in the technical services area of Brown Library. She retired in May 1993 but continued to serve part time in the library.

The Unsung Hero Award for professional staff was established at ACU in 1995 to honor Guy and her close friend, Sammy Lale, who were known for their spirit of helping and encouraging others, especially students. Guy frequently assumed the role of a feisty advocate for students in all matters, from academics to wintertime heat in residence halls. Library co-workers recall her ministry of prayer and how she joyfully entered the back door each day to exclaim, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!”

An avid sports fan, Guy was a loyal follower of ACU basketball and football teams, and was voted by students to be grand marshal of the 1994 Homecoming Parade.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Leroy; her parents, Albert and Avil Bonham; and a brother, Lee Bonham. Among survivors are two daughters, Barbara Moore and Donna (Guy ’72) Campbell; two sons, Eddie Guy (’79) and John Guy (’82); six grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; three brothers; and one sister.


VIA News: Three demolitions scheduled

Interior work continues on the Engineering and Physics Labs at Bennett Gym

Interior work continues on the Engineering and Physics Laboratories at Bennett Gymnasium.

When the weather begins warming up later this spring, three facilities on the Abilene Christian University campus will be coming down.

Starting next week, asbestos abatement will turn into full-fledged demolition for Walling Lecture Hall, with Chambers Hall and a much-used utility building set to follow soon after.

By the end of the semester, all three facilities should be gone.

The demolitions are the next – and, to date, most visible – step in the university’s $75 million Vision in Action initiative, which will result in five new science and athletics facilities.

Crews have been abating asbestos in Walling, said Scot Colley (’04), executive director of construction and risk management at ACU. With that process complete, they will move to demolition, beginning with utilities inside the lecture hall, which served thousands of science students and social club members for more than 40 years.

“You’re not going to see it immediately,” he said. “We’ll be in there pulling out gas lines and electrical.”

Nevertheless, plans call for Walling to be fully demolished by the end of February, clearing space for the expansion of Foster Science Building as it transforms into the Onstead Science Center.

As currently scheduled, demolition on Chambers would begin before the end of March. Crews currently are abating the asbestos in the 85-year-old former cafeteria, library, residence hall and academic building.

Chambers and a nearby facility that until recently housed WFF, the university’s contracted custodial services, will make way for the new Halbert-Walling Research Center, which will begin construction once fundraising for the project is complete. Demolition of the WFF building is scheduled to begin the week of March 2.

A new stadium for track and field, as well as soccer, is on schedule for an April 1 completion date, Colley said.

Meanwhile, the first Vision in Action project – the Engineering and Physics Laboratories at Bennett Gymnasium, a renovation of the 85-year-old former home to ACU’s basketball teams, intramurals and many a Lectureship gathering – is on track to complete construction in February.


U.S. Senate confirms Pitman as federal judge

spotlight-pitman-full

Abilene Christian University graduate Robert Pitman (’85), who has been serving as a U.S. attorney, was recently confirmed by the Senate as federal judge of the Western District of Texas, a lifetime position in San Antonio.

President Barack Obama nominated Pitman in June 2014 to fill a role vacant since 2008, when W. Royal Furgeson Jr. retired and later became founding dean of the University of North Texas School of Law. Pitman had been the top federal prosecutor for the same Western District since 2011. Before that, he was a magistrate judge.

He was one of three named by Obama to fill Texas federal court benches, joining Texarkana lawyer Robert Schroeder III and Amos Mazzant III, a Sherman magistrate judge.

Pitman is a native of Fort Worth who attended The University of Texas Law School following ACU, where he was president of the Students’ Association and salutatorian of his graduating class. He served as a legislative aide to Dr. Robert D. Hunter (’52) from 1985-87 while Hunter was a Texas state representative in Austin, and he earned a master’s degree in international human rights law from the University of Oxford.

Following law school, Pitman was a judicial clark from 1988-89 for David O. Belew Jr., U.S. District Court judge for the Northern District of Texas; an associate at Fulbright and Jaworski LLP from 1989-90; attorney advisor for the general counsel of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys from 1996-97; and assistant U.S. attorney from 1990-2003.

Other ACU alumni in high-ranking judicial roles include Jeffrey S. Boyd (’83), one of nine current justices on the Texas Supreme Court, and Jack Pope (’34), former chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court.

The Jack Pope Fellows Program at ACU honors the 101-year-old Pope – who was the longest-serving Texas Supreme Court justice (38 years) in history – by preparing Abilene Christian students for careers in public service.


For the Least of These: The Browns

Brown family

Alan and Holly Brown are pictured with their children (from left) A.J., 15; Annie, 17; Abby Claire, 15; Allison, 19, a sophomore at ACU; and Moses, 5 (front and center).

A feature series from ACU Today

A feature series from ACU Today

When sixth-grader Annie Brown wrote a school essay about adoption, the ball started rolling. When it came to a stop, a toddler from Uganda named Moses had become part of Alan (’92) and Holly (McLeod ’92) Brown’s family.

Enjoy their story, as we continue our series about Abilene Christian University alumni who have followed their hearts to adopt. Alan is co-founder and general counsel for FireWheel Energy, LLC, and Holly is a stay-at-home mom. They live in Midland, Texas.

From Essay to Reality

It all started with an essay. A simple sixth-grade essay with the title “Why My Family Should Adopt.” Our daughter Annie came home one day and boldly held out her latest work and pleaded for us to read it.  It was well written and smartly organized with thoughtful arguments to address every question we might have.  How could we argue with her logic? Great house with extra room, good job, four siblings who would love and care for him, and a mom and dad who loved the Lord and had faith that He would provide for us all. That one little essay started our family on a journey that took us to places we never could have imagined. God had something amazing in store for us, and He brought the vision to us through a little sixth-grade girl.

Once we started down that path, everyone in the family was on board but Alan. He just wasn’t sure this was where God was leading our family. But Alan decided to spend some time with God in prayer for several weeks leading up to a big adoption conference. Alan’s unspoken fear was that our family was going so well and that adding a new child from another country would somehow mess things up. So God gently gave Alan the words, “Your life is so good; now go share it with another.” Something in those words broke things free in the spiritual realm, and Alan joined the rest of the family in anticipation of a sweet little boy who would soon be a part of our family.

After months of waiting, the word came through that a little boy named Moses was going to be ours. We packed up the entire family, skipped the last week of school, and headed to Kampala, Uganda. When we walked into Loving Hearts Babies Home and saw Moses for the first time, our joy was indescribable. One of the most beautiful things was to watch our daughter Annie take him into her arms and tell him how much she loved him. God worked through her to bring Moses to exactly where God wanted him. It took four more weeks to get him home, but we loved every minute of our time getting to know the Ugandan people and culture.

Moses has been home with us for two and a half years, and it is hard to remember what life was like before he came to us. His transition into being a full member of our family has been seamless. He has brought so much joy to our lives and for all those around us. When people talk to us about what a great thing we did for him, we feel almost guilty. He has given us so much more in return. We pinch ourselves sometimes at the thought that we get to raise this amazing young boy.

So I’m thankful God knows each of us and exactly what we need. I’m thankful He speaks to us. And I’m thankful for a little sixth-grade girl who listened and had the boldness to speak.

In the weeks to come, we will introduce you to other alumni who help make a real difference in the world – and enrich their own families – by adopting and fostering children.

You can follow new stories in this series on the ACU Facebook page.

See previous posts in this series:


ACU Remembers: William R. Waugh

William R Waugh 3x4 96

William R. Waugh (’59), a talented artist and innovative businessman who founded and developed successful Taco Bueno, Casa Bonita, Casa Viva, Crystal’s Pizza, and Burger Street restaurants across the Southwest, passed away Jan. 20, 2015, in Dallas, Texas, at age 79.

A memorial service will be held at Sparkman-Hillcrest Funeral Home (7405 W. Northwest Highway, Dallas, Texas 75225) on Saturday, Jan. 24, at 10 a.m., conducted by Bill Morrow, with burial afterward at Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery in Dallas. Visitation with the family will be 6-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 23, at the funeral home.

Waugh was born Aug. 2, 1935, in Norman, Okla., and graduated from Colorado Springs (Colo.) High School in 1953. He married Francis Vickrey in 1964.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in fine art from Abilene Christian University in 1959. While at ACU he was president of the Art Club, president of Kappa Pi, vice president of Phi Delta Psi, and a member of Blue Key. In 1965 he attended the Frank J. Reilly School of Art in New York City.

With a commitment to customer service and high standards of excellence, his first venture was in the dry cleaning and laundry business, purchasing a One-Hour Martinizing franchise in 1959 and expanding it to a small chain in Texas and Oklahoma over the next eight years. Waugh’s first Taco Bueno, specializing in Tex-Mex fast-food cuisine, opened on South First Street in Abilene in 1967 and now features 176 restaurants in seven states. In Abilene he developed Tony’s Pizza Cave in 1972 into Crystal’s Pizza and Spaghetti, one of a chain of popular family-focused restaurants in Texas, Colorado and Oklahoma for 35 years. He began Casa Bonita in Oklahoma City in 1968 and expanded to locations in Texas, Colorado and Arkansas. With seating for 1,100, its location near Denver was the largest Mexican food restaurant in the world, serving more than 1 million customers a year and entertaining them with cliff divers and water falls, puppet shows, mariachi bands and life-size costumed characters. Waugh sold Taco Bueno and Casa Bonita to the British food company Unigate in 1981. He founded Burger Street in 1985 in Lewisville, Texas, growing the all-drive-through concept store to 14 locations in the DFW Metroplex and four in Tulsa. The company is poised to expand over the next year in a new phase of growth.

He was board chair of Waugh Enterprises Inc., senior board chair and founder of Plaza National Bank, president and CEO of Rembrandt Antiek Gallerie, and board chair of Christian Services of the Southwest. Waugh also served as a trustee or regent of ACU, Pepperdine University, Dallas Christian School, the Hockaday School, the Dallas Salvation Army, Dallas Christian Leadership, and Heartbeat Ministries. He was a visiting lecturer for the business schools at Abilene Christian, Southern Methodist and Baylor universities.

Mabee Business Building

Mabee Business Building

“Bill had unique and remarkable gifts as an entrepreneur, artist and man of faith,” said former ACU trustee J. McDonald Williams (’63), retired chair and CEO of Trammell Crow Company. “He built nationally renowned business enterprises. He approached all of life as an artist, with an acute attention to detail, whether a new restaurant or a new business school building at ACU as chair of its campaign.”

Waugh had a special relationship with his alma mater. Besides serving as an ACU trustee (1982-98) and member of the Senior Board (1998-2007), he received the university’s Distinguished Alumni Citation in 1982, was named the College of Business Administration’s 1983 Entrepreneur of the Year, served on the COBA Dean’s Advisory Council, and was the college’s first adjunct professor of business. He also was an influential leader on planning committees for the Mabee Business Building and Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building.

“Bill’s leadership in design of those two facilities resulted in new structures at Abilene Christian, and years later, influenced the aesthetics of the Hunter Welcome Center and the Money Student Recreation and Wellness Center,” said Dr. Jack Griggs (’64), Overton Faubus Professor Emeritus of Business and former COBA dean. “He marked the campus through his capacity for thinking big and his attention to detail.”

Dr. J. William Petty (’64), former COBA dean who is now professor of finance and W.W. Caruth Chair of Entrepreneurship at Baylor University, believes Waugh deserves much of the credit for the campus aesthetics for which ACU is known today. “He had an eye for beauty and a commitment to nothing less than excellence,” Petty said. “As a result, we have a business building that will stand the test of time. ACU was never to be the same after Bill.”

“He was a gifted human being who had incredible insight into consumer behavior and customer service related to retail,” said COBA dean Dr. Rick Lytle. “Bill was always kind and gracious to me, my students on their many field trips to Dallas, and our college. He was generous to us in many ways.”

Sowell Rotunda and Chapel on the Hill

Sowell Rotunda and Chapel on the Hill

He was known for nurturing long-term relationships and grateful people spoke often of how he provided them transformational opportunities. His commitment to the growth of his employees and those around him were hallmarks of his success in business and life. Waugh donated his time and money to causes that included orphanages, learning institutes, and feeding and clothing those in need around the world. He was an involved member of Prestoncrest Church of Christ, and his honesty and integrity were beyond reproach.

“Bill was generous with his time,” said former ACU trustee Holt Lunsford (’85), CEO and president of Holt Lunsford Commercial in Dallas. “He wanted to stretch your thinking by introducing thoughts and material that inspired him, and hopefully you. I have countless articles with a cover note that says, ‘Thought you might be interested.’ It was his way of encouraging business as a mission, not just a vocation.”

The World Missions Globe inside Sowell Rotunda

The World Missions Globe inside Sowell Rotunda

Former ACU board chair Don W. Crisp (’64), CEO of Rosewood Trust Company, recalled weekend retreats Waugh helped host that brought thought leaders together to inspire the faith of his close friends. “Those opportunities changed my life. Exposure to teachers and thinkers like Dr. Lynn Anderson (D.Min. ’90), Jim McGuiggan, Landon Saunders and Stanley Shipp (’46) literally changed the way I see God and the world,” Crisp said. “Carol (Crosen ’64) and I remain so grateful to be included in those groups. Bill’s generosity has blessed so many.”

Waugh married Liwei Wang on Jan. 19, 2004.

He was preceded in death by his parents, W. Ray and Ruby Waugh. Among survivors are Liwei, his wife of 11 years; two daughters, Lisa Nicole (Waugh ’95) Miethe and her husband, John-Hayden Miethe (’95) of Franklin, Tenn.; Anna Christina (Waugh ’97) Richards and her husband, Bubba Richards of Brentwood, Tenn.; a son, Nicholas David Waugh (’97) and his wife, Robin Abigail Waugh of Franklin, Tenn.; a stepdaughter, Ya Zhou of Toronto, Canada; grandchildren Britain Avery Miethe, Elijah Daniel-King Miethe, Emerson Nicole Miethe, Favor Shalom Miethe, Ian Bray Miethe, Love Mercy Miethe, Parker Hayden Miethe, Ryan Isabella Miethe, Grayson Richards, Brayden Russiano, Campbell Russiano, Greyson Russiano, Holden Russiano, and Jonah Nicholas Waugh; and a brother, Thomas Lee Waugh (’62) and his wife, Carole Lynn Waugh of Flower Mound, Texas.

Memorials may be made online to Abilene Christian University (or mailed to Gift Records, ACU Box 29132, Abilene, Texas 79699-9132), the Dallas Salvation Army or Dallas Christian School.


Hawkins, Smiley bring comedy to campus

Tim Hawkins

Tim Hawkins

Two of the nation’s most popular “clean” comedians will bring their high-energy humor to Abilene Christian University’s Moody Coliseum on Feb. 28 when Tim Hawkins and Bob Smiley (’94) perform in concert at 7 p.m.

The family-friendly event is a fundraiser for Abilene Christian Schools that is sponsored by ACU, Arrow Ford and Chick-fil-A. General admission, group and premium reserved tickets are $21-42 and can be purchased online here.

Smiley, a former elementary education major who won $500 during a standup comedy competition as a student at ACU, is married to Wendy (Hines ’95) and has three children.

He got his start touring with Christian artists such as Clay Crosse, Newsboys, Third Day and Audio Adrenaline. His more than 15-year career has blossomed while taking him to churches, schools, comedy clubs and corporate events around the world.

Tuna Fish Mafia-Bob 3x4 96

Bob Smiley (’94)

Smiley frequently appears in concerts with Hawkins, a talented songwriter and guitarist – married with four kids – whose combination of comedy enfused with music has earned a worldwide following, if 100 million-plus views of his YouTube videos, 200,000 Facebook followers and sold-out shows are any indication.

Both draw upon their life experiences for humor, from marriage and family relationships, to parenting, to outrageously funny insights about church life. In those realms in particular, no subject nor idiosyncrasy is immune from their zingers and playful exploration/celebration.

Comedy is their Christian ministry, and their laughs are as pointedly self-inflicted as aimed at the often hilarious humanity of others.

Watch videos of Smiley here.

Watch videos of Hawkins here.


For the Least of These: The Steeles

Greg, Tiffany and Erik Steele

Greg, Tiffany and Erik Steele

Greg (’08) and Tiffany (Thompson ’09) Steele met while students at Abilene Christian University and found a common bond in the idea of adopting a child.

“Many people think that adoption is a fall-back plan or a safety net for infertile couples,” Tiffany says. “Adoption is anything but that. It is pure love, joy and completely miraculous. We always planned and prayed for our sweet Erik; we just didn’t know God’s timing on the matter.”

Greg is preaching minister at Heritage Church of Christ in Rowlett, and Tiffany teaches middle school at Firewheel Christian Academy in Garland.

We continue our series about Abilene Christian University alumni who have followed their hearts to adopt with Tiffany’s account of their journey to adopt Erik:

A Heart for Adoption

Everybody’s story has to start somewhere. Erik’s story began long before he was ever conceived, deep inside our hearts.

A feature series from ACU Today

A feature series from ACU Today

Greg and I met at Passport at ACU in the summer of 2005. We were both planning on being members of the Big Purple Marching band. He played the tuba, and I twirled baton and participated in color guard. Once we offcially started school in August, we became quick friends. We ended up going on our first date that fall, and the rest is history. I remember the moment I knew I wanted to marry Greg. We were sitting outside McKinzie Hall talking about children. He said he always imagined having children AND adopting children. He felt very strongly that God calls us to care for the orphan and widow, and he thought adoption was a wonderful way to do just that. I had always imagined adopting a child, and to find someone with the same idea was absolutely mind-blowing.

Greg and I married in August 2008. He was working on his M.Div. at ACU, and all I had left was student teaching in the education department. By May 2012, I had been teaching in the Abilene Independent School District for three years, and Greg graduated with his M.Div. We picked up and moved to the metroplex for Greg to begin preaching.

When Greg and I decided to start trying to have a baby, we both imagined a short and blissful journey to achieving our dream, but day after day, week after week, there was nothing. We tried to ignore the problem, and we told no one. We suffered silently for the first couple of years. There are no words to describe the heartbreak we felt. I know that I felt completely defective. I was made to be a momma, but this just wasn’t working.

We knew that we could love any child, and we felt that God calls us to adopt children who need a home. We never knew if it would be sooner or later, but we knew we wanted it to happen. As we tried and tried, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe this was the time, but I didn’t bring it up.

Many people think that adoption is a fall-back plan or a safety net for infertile couples. Adoption is anything but that. It is pure love, joy and completely miraculous. We always planned and prayed for our sweet Erik; we just didn’t know God’s timing on the matter.

Little did we know that in late August 2010 God put the first stepping stone to lead us straight to Erik. That August evening I met a precious little girl at “meet the teacher.” She stole my heart from the moment I met her. I was so nervous to start my first real classroom teaching job, but this little girl created an immediate peace in my heart, and my heart latched onto hers instantly. My dear Bailey (name changed for confidentiality) was such a joy and, oh, so special. She was always eager to learn, and loved putting her new skills to work. She was such a joy to teach!

Sadly, I did not get to keep my sweet Bailey in class all year. She had some horrible things happen to her in her home. I reported the abuse, and she was quickly taken to a safe place within a 48-hour period. I held her hand at the hospital while she was examined for old bruising, and I held her close to my heart. I thought to myself, “This is why God connected our hearts – so I could help save her life.” I went a year or more without seeing her; then I testified in court as a CPS witness. After all of that, I met Bailey’s new, forever momma, and she was such an amazing woman. God gave me peace that Bailey would be OK.

Erik Steele

Erik love Mickey Mouse, cars, books, trucks and superheroes.

Time passed. Fertility issues still stared me straight in the eyes. I finally went to the doctor, and she told me that Greg and my chances of getting pregnant, having a healthy pregnancy, and carrying a baby was somewhere between slim and none. I was angry. I remember sitting in my car screaming outside of our local Chick-fil-A (they probably thought I was some kind of crazy person). I yelled at God. I said, “YOU CREATED ME TO BE A MOTHER. WHY CAN’T YOU JUST LET ME BE ONE!” That’s how I felt. I felt so confused. After yelling at God, I made the drive to tell Greg the news. I will never forget how inadequate I felt as I looked my husband in the eyes and told him that I was broken. Greg was amazing. He insisted that I was just who God wanted me to be, and I definitely was not BROKEN.

After the anger wore off, my prayers became obedient and meaningful. I asked God to show us what to do. The adoption idea started to surface again. I thought maybe this is God’s way of telling me that it was time. I brought it up to Greg, and he agreed. We prayed about it for three months then decided in September we would let everyone know that we wanted to adopt.

Fast forward to October. I got a random text message from Bailey’s momma telling me she had good news and that I should call later. I called and ended up in Abilene to see Bailey’s mom. We went outside for her to take a break, and I met a friend of Bailey’s mom who said, her daughter was pregnant and was due in early December. They could not keep the baby.

You know what happens from there. I spent some time with Erik’s birth grandma (affectionately called Nammy), and from there I met Julie. Julie was my age, born only a month apart. She was truly precious, and I instantly fell in love with her. She was beautiful, funny, smart and driven. She was strong, bold and courageous. She was Erik’s tummy momma.

Julie had several devastating life experiences, and just weeks before I met her, she sat in the waiting room of Pregnancy Resources of Abilene planning to ask for an abortion. Little did she know that the love of Christ was waiting for her just behind the waiting room doors. The doctor and nurses there helped her realize that adoption would give life to her son. She left that day with a sonogram of Erik and a plan. Just weeks later, Julie and I met.

Over the next few weeks, we rushed to get a baby boy room ready. We had lots of help from friends, family and our church, and we got everything we needed and more. I went back to Abilene with Greg so he could meet Julie, and we went to some doctor appointments as well. Julie’s doctor let us hear Erik’s heartbeat and then did a special sonogram just so we could see our little guy. It was amazing. I cried through the whole thing. It all seemed so surreal.. But I knew that God had always had a plan. Ever since I was young, God was watching over me. He was watching over Greg as he grew up in the Texas Panhandle, and Julie as she grew up in West Texas. I know God made all of us with each other in mind. Ever since the moment I met Bailey in my kindergarten classroom, God slowly began to reveal this amazing plan to me. He began to connect the dots to an amazing puzzle that would create a true masterpiece.

Meeting Erik for the first time

Meeting Erik for the first time

Erik was born in the early morning hours at Abilene Regional Medical Center on Nov. 29, 2012. He was perfect from head to toe. Greg and I witnessed our son’s birth. It was the single most miraculous thing I have ever witnessed.

Our journey to meet our son began in our hearts and ended in a small hospital room in Abilene that was filled with love. God brought Erik to all of us, birth family and adoptive family, for a reason beyond any we can imagine.

There isn’t a day that goes by that we don’t thank God for Erik, his birth family, the doctors and nurses at Pregnancy Resources, and my sweet Bailey and her momma.

It is truly amazing to see how beautifully God weaves our lives in such an outstanding way beyond any we could imagine. God always has a plan, even when you feel there is nowhere to turn. All you have to do is reach out, take His hand and jump. He will take care of the rest!

Erik is now 2 years old. He is healthy and happy. He is the only grandchild on either side of our families, so he is spoiled rotten!

In the weeks to come, we will introduce you to other alumni who help make a real difference in the world – and enrich their own families – by adopting and fostering children.

You can follow new stories in this series on the ACU Facebook page.

See previous posts in this series:


Hot-shooting Wildcats ready for CBS telecast

Parker Wentz

Parker Wentz

On the eve of its biggest home game in years, the Abilene Christian University men’s basketball team is grateful what happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas.

Scuffling along with a 4-6 record in late December after road losses to Tulsa, California-Riverside, Houston, Loyola-Chicago and Boise State, few fans expected head coach Joe Golding’s team to do much more than struggle in its continued transition to NCAA Division I competition.

But the Wildcats beat South Carolina State on Dec. 22 and Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Dec. 23 to win the Upper Division championship of the Continental Las Vegas Classic at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. The tournament title gave ACU a rare piece of hardware to take home – a trophy – as the Wildcats won’t be eligible for postseason championships until the 2017-18 season because of their move to Division I.

Harrison Hawkins

Harrison Hawkins

After a close loss (83-81) to Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz., on Dec. 28, the Wildcats have reeled off three consecutive wins to open Southland Conference play and move to 9-7 on the season. They handily beat Central Arkansas, Nicholls State and Northwest Louisiana – the latter an experienced team with a head coach looking for his 600th career win in Natchitoches. But ACU spoiled the Demons’ party, big-time, shocking a team projected to finish second in the Southland.

“In all my years, I don’t know that I’ve seen a better shooting night against my team,” said Mike McConathy, who has coached college basketball for 32 years, the last 16 for Northwest Louisiana. “They moved the ball beautifully, they played smart and they played hard. But they hit some tough, tough shots too, and those are the ones that jump out, looking back.”

In the win, hot-shooting guards Harrison Hawkins (31 points), Parker Wentz (29) and LaDarrien Williams (20) scored 80 of ACU’s 95 points and contributed mightily to the team’s 16 of 27 three-point field goal shooting (.593 percent).

Head coach Joe Golding

Head coach Joe Golding

Next up for the Wildcats is Stephen F. Austin State University in the first-ever game to be nationally broadcast from Moody Coliseum. Tipoff is at 11 a.m. tomorrow (Saturday). Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students (those younger than age 5 get in free). Half-price tickets are available with a military ID. ACU students, faculty and staff receive free admission.

Both teams are undefeated at 3-0 and tied for first place in the Southland, so you couldn’t ask for a better scenario for CBS Sports Network to choose as its game to broadcast to the nation. Grant Boone (’91) will handle the play-by-play and Van Chancellor – who coached the 2004 U.S. women’s Olympic team to a gold medal and won four WNBA titles with the Houston Comets – will provide color commentary on the telecast.

The ACU women’s team (8-6 overall, 1-3 in the Southland) plays SFA (10-5, 3-1) at 2 p.m. in Moody, although that game is not televised.

The Lumberjack men are a formidable opponent: 13-3 overall this season with wins in 25 straight Southland games. SFA was 32-3 last year in the regular season and 18-0 in the Southland, advancing to play in the NCAA National Tournament for the second time. They beat Virginia Commonwealth in the first round before falling to UCLA.

Those watching on TV or in person for the first time will see a game played on Dee Nutt Court, which was dedicated Nov. 22 before the Duquesne game in honor of the 1950 ACU graduate and late great former ACU head coach.

The Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau is welcoming CBS Sports to Abilene with a sign contest: fans can create a sign and post it to the ACVB Instagram account (@VisitAbilene) or Twitter account (@AbileneCVB). The winner will be announced at noon Saturday.


ACU Remembers: Judy Beauchamp

Garvin and Judy Beauchamp

Garvin and Judy Beauchamp

Ermon Pearl “Judy” (Jones ’41) Beauchamp, one of the namesakes of a landmark amphitheatre at Abilene Christian University, died Jan. 9, 2015, in Abilene, at age 96.

A memorial service will be held Monday, Jan. 12, at 1 p.m. at University Church of Christ in Abilene, where the couple were longtime members.

She was born April 6, 1918, in Wilson, Okla., and enrolled in Abilene Christian with her twin brother, Thurmon “Tugboat” Jones (’41) in 1937, the same year she met Garvin V. Beauchamp (’41). Judy was a member of Ko Jo Kai social club at ACU.

The couple married May 28, 1941, and lived in Abilene; Redding, Calif.; and Midland, Texas, before returning to ACU in 1950 when Garvin was named head football coach of their alma mater.

Judy was active in her home congregation for 75 years, was a founding member of Women for Abilene Christian University, and was known for a 25-year sales career at Bowie’s Jewelry Store. She and Garvin were beloved for their nearly half century of service to ACU and lives of integrity that will long outlive them both. He died Dec. 2, 2002, after a career on the Hill as assistant and head football coach, athletics director, dean of students, vice president of student services, and vice president of special services.

Beauchamp Amphitheatre 6x4 96The Beauchamps were honored at a tribute luncheon in 1987 in the Abilene Civic Center. ACU’s Tower of Light, Chapel on the Hill, and Garvin and Judy Beauchamp Amphitheatre were dedicated Aug. 28, 1989, a day before the opening of the Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building. The amphitheatre has become one of the university’s most popular gathering places for students as the home of candlelight devotionals during Welcome Week and other occasions.

Judy was preceded in death by Garvin, her husband of 61 years; her parents, Elvie and Priscilla Jones; and four siblings, Ballard, Stanley, Thurmon and Jeraldine. Among survivors are a son, Gary Beauchamp (’64); a daughter Priscilla “Prissy” (Beauchamp ’65) Jones; five grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

Candlelight Devo 6x4 96


For the Least of These: The Whitakers

Brandon and Lori Whitaker with their children, from left, James, 5; Jovanika, 6; and Avery, 9.

Brandon and Lori Whitaker with their children (from left) James, 5; Jovanika, 6; and Avery, 9.

A feature series from ACU Today

A feature series from ACU Today

Brandon Whitaker (’96) and his wife, Lori, always knew they wanted to adopt but had never considered an international adoption and had certainly never considered adopting siblings. That all changed when Lori took a missions trip with her church to Haiti.

Brandon tells how James and Jovanika joined their family, as we continue our series about Abilene Christian University alumni who have followed their hearts to adopt.

Brandon works for the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission in Fort Worth, and Lori is a first-grade teacher in Arlington. They have one biological daughter, Avery, 9, in addition to their two adopted children.

A Curve Ball

After Avery was born, we wanted another child and tried unsuccessfully for several years to conceive. About this time, the devastating January 2010 earthquake hit Port-Au-Prince, Haiti. Our church had ongoing missions work in Haiti and had planned a trip several months after the earthquake. My wife decided she wanted to go. I could not go because I have a condition that does not allow me to sweat. To take a trip to one of the poorest countries in the heart of the Caribbean, just after what little infrastructure they had was destroyed, would be extremely dangerous for me (I eventually made it over there, though).

After Lori’s first visit, she fell in love with the country and the people of Haiti. When she came back, we began to talk about adopting. My wife is adopted, and we always knew we wanted to adopt at some point. This particular option had never really crossed our minds before. But God works in mysterious ways and our plan is not always His plan.

My wife decided to go back to Haiti again on another missions trip. At this point, we were a little more serious about adopting but had the mindset that if this is what God wanted, He would show us. We knew we wanted a little girl between 1 and 3 years old, and at that time in Haiti if you applied and were approved, you could actually handpick the child you wished to adopt. So my wife went into that trip with the mindset not necessarily to find our future daughter, but with an open mind and heart willing to listen to God if he spoke.

As it turns out, there was a 2-year-old girl named Jovanika who clung to my wife’s leg immediately after she walked into the Creche, or orphanage. Each day the girl would find my wife and would not leave her side. After several days of truly connecting with this little girl, my wife decided to inquire as to which children were adoptable and not yet matched with a family. To her surprise, Jovanika was the only girl between the ages of 1 and 3 who did not yet have a family. We soon found out she had just been brought to the orphanage about a month before. Lori sent me a text message from Haiti with Jovanika’s picture that said, “I think we found our girl.”

When Lori got home, we talked and prayed about the adoption and decided this was it. She was our girl, and we wanted to bring her home to join our family. We submitted our application and were approved a couple of days later.

Shortly after getting approved, though, we got another email from the director of the Creche. The director told us that Jovanika had a little brother, also at the Creche, and that they did not like to separate siblings. Jovanika was new to the Creche and their records, which are not great to begin with, had not been updated when we applied. We were told they would not allow us to adopt Jovanika without adopting her brother also. They understood if we could not do this and would be happy to place us with another girl when one became available.

To say this was a curve ball is an understatement! After several more days of prayer, discussion, consultation and a hard look at our finances, we decided that this was God’s plan for our lives – that we had been chosen to be the parents of not just Jovanika but James as well. The rest would work itself out, we felt. And it has!

After two years, our adoption was completed in August 2013, and we brought James and Jovi (our nickname for her) home that same month. They have truly been a blessing, and we couldn’t imagine having one without the other. They have adapted extremely well. I think the fact that they had each other when they came home to us helped with their transition. James and Jovi have two other biological siblings, and we know the family that adopted them. They came to visit us this past summer, and occasionally we Facetime or Skype with them. We want to make sure they stay in touch.

If you want to read more about the adoption, Lori started a blog in June 2010 called “From Haiti to Home” in which she chronicled the adoption process and her other trips to Haiti. Between three kids and teaching full time, she has not been able to keep the blog up to date. Surprisingly, we don’t have as much free time as we used to!

In the weeks to come, we will introduce you to other alumni who help make a real difference in the world – and enrich their own families – by adopting and fostering children.

You can follow new stories in this series on the ACU Facebook page.

See previous posts in this series: