National Prayer Breakfast features Brantly

Brantly spoke at ACU in October 2014.

Brantly (’03) spoke at ACU in October 2014.

This morning, for the second consecutive year, an Abilene Christian University graduate participated in the National Prayer Breakfast when Dr. Kent Brantly (’03), led a “Prayer for World Leaders” at the 63rd annual event at the Washington (D.C.) Hilton.

Steve Mack (’82) and Dr. Royce Money (’64)

Steve Mack (’82) and Dr. Royce Money (’64)

Also in attendance today were ACU chancellor Dr. Royce Money (’64); trustee Steve Mack (’82), his wife, LaDonna, and his son, Will Mack (’14).

Brantly’s prayer was followed by a keynote address from NASCAR legend Darrell Waltrip and the closing prayer was led by Andrew Young, former mayor of Atlanta, Ga. and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Musical performances were by 2014 Miss Mississippi Jasmine Murray and 12-year-old rhythm and blues singer Quintavious Johnson.

A medical missions advisor for Samaritan’s Purse, Brantly contracted Ebola virus disease while serving in Liberia in 2014 and survived a near-fatal experience that made headlines around the world. He was recently named one of Time magazine’s Persons of the Year.

Last year, U.S. Rep. Janice Hahn (’74) of California served as co-chair of the event. Previous ACU graduates to participate include actor Curt Cloninger (’76) in 2012 and minister/best-selling author Max Lucado (’77) in 1999.

Brantly adapted his words today from “The Lord’s Prayer in Time of War” by Wendy Lyons:

Our Father, who art in heaven, The LORD, The LORD, The God of compassion and mercy, slow to anger, and abounding in love and faithfulness, lover of all peoples of the earth, There is no God like you in all of heaven above or on the earth below. You keep your covenant and show unfailing love to all who walk before you in wholehearted devotion. Hallowed be thy Name.

Brantly prayed for the world's leaders.

Brantly prayed for the world’s leaders.

Remind us that “all the nations are as nothing before you,” their governments but a shadow of passing age; Authorities are meant to be your servants, to do good to the people under their care and to ensure justice for those who have been wronged. But we all, including our leaders, will stand before your judgment seat, O God. And as surely as you live, O LORD, every knee will bow and every tongue confess and give praise to You. Thy kingdom come on earth.

Grant to thy children throughout the world, and especially to the leaders of the nations, the gifts of prayerful thought and of thoughtful prayer; that following the example of our Lord, we may discern what is right, and do it. Bless the leaders of the nations that they may not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers. Bless the leaders of the nations that they might delight in the law of the LORD, that they might meditate on it day and night, that Thy will might be done on earth, as it is in heaven.

Help us to protect and to provide for all who are hungry and homeless, especially those who are deprived of food and shelter, family and friends. For true religion that is acceptable to you, O LORD, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress and to flee corruption. Give us this day our daily bread.

Forgive us for neglecting to “seek peace and pursue it,” and finding ourselves in each new crisis, more ready to make war than to make peace, choosing violence and war over peace and reconciliation. “We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves”; Forgive us for neglecting the needs of our people, for choosing corruption and greed over integrity and generosity. Forgive us for oppressing the minority while the majority is filled with pride and self-reliance. We have all sinned and fallen short of your glory, O LORD.

Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Let us not seek revenge, but reconciliation; Let us not delight in victory, but in justice; Let us not give ourselves up to pride, but to prayer; Lead us not into temptation.

Be present, LORD, to all your children: Be present to those who are killing and to those who are being killed; Be present to the oppressed and to the oppressor; Be present to the leaders of the nations. Deliver us from evil.

Subdue our selfish desires to possess and to dominate; forbid us arrogance in victory and self-pity in defeat; Bless the leaders of the nations, Father, that they might act justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly with you, O God.

For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.

In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

The National Prayer Breakfast was founded by President Abraham Lincoln but has become an annual event since 1953, at the urging of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.


ACU Remembers: Mrs. William J. Teague

Peggy Teague 1 400x600 96b

Former Abilene Christian University first lady Margaret Louise (Newlen ’56) “Peggy” Teague, wife of chancellor emeritus Dr. William J. Teague (’52), died Feb. 3, 2015, at age 85 in Abilene.

A memorial service will be held Friday, Feb. 6, 2015, at 1 p.m. at University Church of Christ in Abilene, with Dr. Eddie Sharp (’73) officiating and arrangements by Piersall-Benton Funeral Directors. Family visitation will be after the service at the church. Burial will take place in Nocona, Texas.

Bill and Peggy Wedding 400x600 96Peggy was born Dec. 1, 1929, in Nashville, Tenn., graduating from San Diego High School in 1946. She began studies at San Diego State University, earning a B.A. degree in secondary education from ACU in 1956 and a M.A. degree in education from Pepperdine University in 1963.

She married Bill Teague on June 4, 1948, in San Diego, Calif.

Peggy taught business classes at Hardin-Simmons University (1956-57) and Harding University (1957-59), and she and Bill made study trips to 46 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, South American and the Pacific Basin.

She was active in university and community organizations, including service as president of the national board of Women for Abilene Christian University and ACU Faculty Wives, and as an advisory board member for Friends of the Abilene Public Library. She was president and emeritus member of the historic Abilene Woman’s Club, a Bible school teacher, and active in public speaking on behalf of projects relating to education, religion and politics. In California, she held various district and state offices in the Associated Women for Pepperdine University, was a member of the Delphian Society, and president of the PTA at Morningside High School in Inglewood, Calif.

Bill and Peggy-2 400x600 96“The Teagues have been an integral part of the work of Women for Abilene Christian University, and have been champions on our behalf,” said Dr. Marianna (Yarbrough ’53) Rasco, a WACU board member and chair of the ACU Museum board. “Peggy led our successful campaign to furnish and refurbish the Mrs. Don H. Morris Living Area in the Morris Center and was a constant source of encouragement to students.”

The Margaret L. Teague Spirit Award was created at ACU in 1988 for students who demonstrate an energetic commitment to Abilene Christian values, including “caring, serving and excelling, and loyalty to the purposes of the university.” ACU’s Hope for the Future Appreciation Dinner in August 1991 honored the Teagues. At that event, Bill said he and Peggy shared a dream “to educate so as to empower the spirit of each student. To inspire in each of them the desire to make moral choices. To continue the fight against mediocrity, to conquer ignorance and supply purpose. To help love abound, and to exalt God as the source and sustainer of all life.”

The William J. and Margaret L. Teague Excellence Award, an endowed scholarship program for students at ACU, began in 1989.

In 1991, the Teagues also were named Christian Educators of the Year by 20th Century Christian magazine for careers of service to three Church of Christ-affiliated universities while Bill was an administrator at Harding (1957-59), Pepperdine (1959-70) and ACU (1952-57, 1981-91 as president, 1991-2007 as chancellor and 2007-present as chancellor emeritus).

“Peggy and Bill Teague’s marriage was a love story – for better, for worse; in sickness and in health,” said chancellor Dr. Royce Money (’64). “They are an inspiration to many of us in the ACU family. Peggy worked tirelessly for Abilene Christian for many years. She was elegant and gracious in her role as first lady of the university.”

ACU’s Teague Boulevard opened in May 1992 and was dedicated in August of that year, serving as a new front entrance to the university. Across campus, the 43,500-square foot Margaret L. and William J. Teague Special Events Center was dedicated in her and Bill’s honor in February 1999.

“The Teague family name will always be an important of ACU history,” said president Dr. Phil Schubert (’91). “Peggy and Bill have been prominent ambassadors of the university. She shared Bill’s commitment to excellence and helped us raise many standards that continue to shape who we are today.”

She was preceded in death by her parents, Frank Newlen and Amelia Bell Reinke Newlen; and a sister, Florence Parsley. Survivors include William, her husband of 66 years; a son, Tom Teague (’71); two daughters, Susan Reid (’74) and Helen Teague (’83); and grandchildren William Randolph Teague and wife Francis, and Amelia Louise Wildman (’11).

Pallbearers will be Cecil Eager (’71), Scott Dueser, Hutton Jones (’81), Jimmy Parker, Dr. Charles Runnels, Richard “Dick” Shough, Jimmy Tittle (’49), William Randolph Teague, and Jerry Wilson (’71).

Honorary pallbearers will be Mrs. Robert Bein, Mrs. Chris Clark, Mrs. Jack Currey, Mrs. Charles Erwin, Mrs. Bobbie Gee, the late Mrs. Clyde Grant, Mrs. David Hejl, the late Mrs. Boots Hill, the late Mrs. Bob James, the late Mrs. Jack Jordan, Mrs. Tom Kim, the late Mrs. Imogene Mickey, Mrs. Porcia Moore, the late Mrs. Charles Nelson, Mrs. Holbert Rideout, Ms. Georgia Sanders, Mrs. Bill Senter, Mrs. Dick Shough, Mrs. Dick Spaulding, the late Mrs. John C. Stevens, and the late Mrs. Robert J. Tiffany.

In lieu of flowers, the family encourages memorials to be made to Women for ACU (ACU Box 29133, Abilene, Texas 79699-9133) or to Abilene Woman’s Club (3425 S. 14th St., Abilene, Texas 79605).

Peggy Teague and Ruth Stevens, wife of Dr. John C. Stevens

Peggy Teague and Ruth Stevens, wife of Dr. John C. Stevens

The Teagues sing at Opening Assembly, one of their favorite annual events at ACU.

The Teagues sing at Opening Assembly, one of their favorite annual events at ACU.

The Teagues are namesakes of ACU's special events center.

The Teagues are namesakes of ACU’s special events center.

Peggy reads a dedicatory plaque for the Mrs. Don H. Morris Living Area at ACU. Morri s (left) was the wife of the university's seventh president, Dr. Don H. Morris.

Peggy reads a dedicatory plaque for the Mrs. Don H. Morris Living Area at ACU. Morris (left) was the wife of the university’s seventh president, Dr. Don H. Morris, and one of Peggy’s dearest friends.

The Teagues were close friends with the Hestons – legendary actor Charlton (left) and his wife, Lydia Clarke Heston – who visited campus several times in the 1980s and established endowed scholarships at ACU.

The Teagues were close friends with the Hestons – legendary actor Charlton (left) and his wife, Lydia Clarke Heston – who visited campus several times in the 1980s and established two endowed scholarships at ACU.

Dr. Teague’s political and corporate business career in California allowed the Teagues to cross paths with people such as Sen. Robert Dole of Kansas.

Dr. Teague’s political and corporate business career in California allowed Bill and Peggy to cross paths with people such as Sen. Robert Dole of Kansas.

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Peggy Teague 2 400x600 96


CBS brought U.S. into Moody’s Section F

ACUMBask_SFA_8508 600x400 96The ball seemed to hang in the air forever, like in one of those cheesy ABC After School Specials. This particular moment was special, but it wasn’t after school. It was Saturday, Jan. 17. And it was on CBS Sports Network, not ABC. Abilene Christian University’s halftime buzzer-beating bomb flew toward a sea of purple in Section F.

Boone is the radio-TV voice of the Wildcats

Boone is the radio-TV voice of the Wildcats

Splash. Score. Chaos.

That 3-point, 30-foot fling took the Wildcats to the locker room with a four-point lead on mighty Stephen F. Austin State University, and the Moody Coliseum crowd of nearly 3,000 – led vocally by a raucous student section crammed into Section F – nearly burst at the seams. The resulting tremor rattled the rafters, the shockwave nearly seismic enough to send me – Land of the Lost-style – hurtling back to an era when this fossil rocked.

Moody opened in 1968. And though it still shows well from multiple angles and in comparison to many facilities around the conference and country, 47 is downright Jurassic in arena years. Dinosaurs like me remember Section F’s glory days. When we put 2,500-plus into the seats for the men’s game against Atlantic 10-member Duquesne University last month, there was chatter among the longer-toothed Wildcats about the rowdiest games the coliseum has hosted. Some pointed to the women’s games in the mid-1990s when Jennifer (Clarkson ’96) Frazier was running roughshod over the Lone Star Conference and leading ACU into the NCAA Division II national semifinals.

ACUMBask_SFA_8537 600x400 96But the consensus pandemonium pick? The Pepperdine-ACU men’s game in December 1984 when Ryant Greene (’87) and Brett Enzor (’88) engineered the Wildcats’ 93-89 upset of the Division I Waves in a battle for no less than the soul of the Restoration Movement. Or so it felt that night.

I got to ACU a few years later in the midst of what became a 44-game home win streak for the men’s team. In those days, about the only way to guarantee a seat in Section F was to get there early. Like maybe Chapel the day before. And once the game started, the energy never stopped. The passion was equal parts choreography and chaos. I remember one of my classmates, Todd Denton (’88), dressing in multiple layers and having his buddies “accidentally” rip his shirt off as if trying to restrain him from attacking the officials when he thought ACU had been ripped off by a bad call.

William Boone (right) assisted his dad, Grant (’__) on the CBS College Sports telecast.

Nick Boone (right) assisted his dad, Grant (’91), on the CBS College Sports telecast.

The win streak ended on the first night of the second semester in 1988. In the ensuing years, Section F’s mystique faded along with the men’s team’s fortunes. There have been flashes of lightning since then – like in 2008 when Tarleton State University came to town for a Top 25 showdown with what wound up a 20-win ACU team – but we never caught it in a bottle to use again.

Now, something special may once again be brewing behind that backboard. Last year, a spunky student group known as Wildcat Reign staked its claim to the best seats in the house at all ACU sporting events, including the 50-yard line at football games and Section F for volleyball and hoops. Those students not only witnessed some great moments in the university’s first season in Division I – like the volleyball team’s upset of Texas Tech University, the women’s basketball team’s win over NCAA tournament team Oral Roberts University, and Parker Wentz’s coast-to-coast, buzzer-beating, goaltend-inducing layup to stun the University of Central Arkansas – they may well have, at least in part, affected the positive outcome with their energy.

ACUMBask_SFA_8615 600x400 96The momentum has carried over this season. Wildcat Reign, dangling free eats from sponsor Buffalo Wild Wings out in front of them, led hundreds of students into the double gym for a watch party to cheer on the ACU football team in its Aug. 27 game against Georgia State that aired live on ESPNU. In addition to the aforementioned Duquesne game, they showed up in full force and throat for the men’s hoops win over Division I opponent Sacramento State University in December.

But the students saved their best for first. Never in the history of ACU basketball had the Wildcats played a home game on national television. (A few games through the years aired on regional networks or, like last year, online via ESPN3.) But for the first time ever, America came to Moody – and vice-versa – Jan. 17 on the airwaves of CBS Sports Network, the cable television offspring of CBS Sports.

ACUMBask_SFA_8641 600x400 96And what they saw was Reign. A steady student downpour of delirium, coupled with the claps of a thunderous community crowd, made Moody feel fuller and sound louder than I’ve ever experienced, peaking when the just-before-halftime heave dropped in. I was calling the game for CBS Sports Network. When the game ended, the ringing in my ears didn’t. I hope it never stops.

There is yet work to do and room to grow. Attendance at Wildcat sporting events isn’t where it needs to be. But Moody’s roof isn’t any higher than the ceiling of ACU’s fan base. Big-time teams and historic moments are coming to Abilene through ACU athletics and shining a national spotlight on the university and the city. And both the campus and Abilene communities are beginning to see what a different game Division I is. The kids are literally and figuratively waving the banner, and they must. No legitimate home court advantage in any collegiate sport exists without a passionate and well-populated student section.

The cameras loved ACU on Jan. 17, and that gives me hope that maybe, just maybe, the volume – in bodies and decibels – can finally be turned back up. And if a Wildcat fan storm really is gathering, its eye will be in F.

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For the Least of These: The Winklers

Angie Winkler family

Angie Winkler with Jackson, now 16 months old, and Nathan, now 6 years old.

As a crisis mental health therapist, Angie Winkler (B.S. ’01) has worked with numerous children who were in foster care. The need she saw inspired her to become a foster parent herself, and then an adoptive mother, even though she had many reasons not to.

Angie adopted her son, Nathan, at age 4. He had been living with her since he was 15 months old. She recently got word that she will be able to adopt 16-month-old Jackson, who has been living with her since he was 3 weeks old.

Angie, who earned a master’s degree from ACU in 2003, is clinical manager of outpatient services at Research Psychiatric Center in Kansas City, Mo. She tells her story, as we continue our series about Abilene Christian University alumni who have followed their hearts to adopt.

A Need Too Big to Ignore

A feature series from ACU Today

A feature series from ACU Today

“By choice, we have become a family, first in our hearts, and finally in breath and being.” –adoptive parent Richard Fischer

I am single …

I am too young …

I live in an apartment …

I don’t make enough money …

These are all reasonable excuses for waiting to become a parent. And these could have been reasonable excuses for me to wait to become a foster parent, if the decision had anything to do with my personal life circumstances. For me, the decision to become a foster parent was entirely about the thousands of children who are in need of a foster family because they have been abused or neglected. I believe with all my heart that we are called to care for these children. And, when God calls us to care for these children, He is rarely interested in what I’m ready for or my degree of confidence in myself.

During my first five years as a mental health therapist, I worked with a large number of children and families who were in foster care or had been adopted out of foster care. And, because I was a crisis therapist, I was regularly faced with the aftermath of worst case scenarios from the foster care system. Every day I was reminded of the immeasurable damage resulting from loss, rejection, abuse, neglect and early childhood trauma.

Because the constant tragedy of these children’s lives was becoming too much for me to bear, I made the decision to become a foster parent. My intent was to specialize in providing therapeutic foster care for older children with behavioral challenges. I expected to foster for a long time before considering adoption.

That was my plan.

Since July 2009, I have had four children placed in my home for foster care: a 6-day-old boy, a 15-month-old boy, a 3-week-old boy, and a 4-year-old boy. What’s that expression? “We plan and God laughs?” Yeah, God was definitely laughing.

Nathan Winkler's adoption day.

Nathan Winkler’s adoption day.

In August 2009, I picked up my son, Nathan, from an emergency DCFS shelter on the south side of Chicago. He was a tiny 15-month-old whose development was closer to that of a 6- to 9-month-old baby. When the caseworker carried him into the waiting room and we made eye contact, he started clapping. It was at that moment that my son had my heart.

Throughout the first few years, we had weekly appointments with pediatricians, speech pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, developmental therapists, pulmonologists, otolaryngologists, and that doesn’t include visits with caseworkers, lawyers and early intervention specialists. So many of these specialists became personally invested in seeing my son thrive. And, you should know, that my son is a rock star. He has never failed to meet or exceed a goal that has been set for him.

Nearly three years later, in June 2012, a judge so ordered that my son “shall be the same as if he had been born to (me).” On that day I finally let go of the smallest of breaths I’d been holding since the moment I held him for the first time. My overwhelming joy squeezed out the last drops of fear and dread for our unknown future. He was my son, first in my heart, and finally in breath and being.

Nathan's first day of kindergarten

Nathan’s first day of kindergarten

This past August, Nathan began kindergarten – my son who for years worked so hard to overcome his early trauma with therapies to improve his language development, his motor skills and his emotional regulation. This same rock star child is reading at a first-grade level, is meeting all expectations for classroom behavior, is learning to play piano, displays extraordinary athleticism, and has the most infectious belly laugh you’ll ever hear. My son is funny, sensitive, smart, friendly, sweet and endlessly energetic. He is the embodiment of joy.

In October 2013, we welcomed a 3-week-old baby boy into our family. For 15 months, we have been on a roller coaster of fear and anxiety for his uncertain future. This sweet boy has, quite simply, stolen our hearts. We adore him. And the thought of him experiencing pain or neglect is unbearable. In my entire life, I have never found more reason to have faith or felt more urgency toward prayer than I have as a parent.

In January 2015, our foster son’s parents signed consents to voluntarily terminate their parental rights. As I sat in the courtroom, wiping away tears, I finally let go of the breath I’d been holding since the moment I held my son for the first time. We are expecting to adopt Jackson this spring.

Parenthood, single or partnered, is a daily exercise in grace – learning to receive grace and extending it abundantly to your children and to those around you. I am proud and grateful and blessed to be a single, foster, adoptive mom, by God’s grace.

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: 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 World War II 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, Sammye 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

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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.

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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.