Off He Goes: Big moment upcoming for Big D

Dallas Sealey 1 600x400 96

Sophomore quarterback Dallas Sealey will lead ACU against the Air Force Academy.

Dallas Sealey wasn’t born in Texas. And, unlike the familiar aphorism, he didn’t even get here as fast as he could.

Boone is the radio-TV voice of the Wildcats

Boone is the radio-TV voice of the Wildcats

But the redshirt sophomore quarterback from Lawton, Okla., has a name and game that seem ripped from the fiction section of a Lone Star library: a quick-footed, rocket-armed passer, given his handle because his parents love the Dallas Cowboys.

Things with Sealey are about to get very non-fiction. Saturday, he leads Abilene Christian University into battle against the Air Force Academy. It won’t be the first game he has started for the Wildcats. That was late last year against Southland Conference champion McNeese State University in a game MSU eked out, 15-13, despite Sealey’s career-high 284 yards passing the most the mighty McNeese defense surrendered to any QB during its unbeaten regular season.

But this will be Sealey’s first start since ACU head coach Ken Collums named him the No. 1 QB after spring practice. The physical tools are obvious. At 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, Sealey, who threw 16 touchdowns his senior year on the gridiron at Lawton High and once struck out 17 batters as a pitcher, can make all the throws asked of him in the Wildcat playbook and could be the best running QB Collums has ever had at ACU.

Dallas Sealey 2 400x600 96A player can earn a spot start for any number of reasons, such as an injury to the usual first-string player or because a coach wants to shake up the status quo. But assuming the starting job for good is another story.

“The nerves haven’t kicked in yet,” Sealey says, “but they will. I’m so excited. I have been working hard for this.”

As a former national-championship-winning QB, himself, Collums understands Sealey’s nerves and believes they are justified.

“There’s a different pressure, a different heaviness on a quarterback’s shoulder (as the No. 1 starter),” Collums said.

The shoulders upon which Collums has placed his trust as season-opening starting QB since he became the team’s offensive coordinator in 2005 and head coach in 2012 are as follows: Billy Malone, Zach Stewart, Mitchell Gale, John David Baker, Parker McKenzie and now Sealey. For Malone, Baker and McKenzie, it was their first starts overall. Stewart and Gale like Sealey had started games the previous season.

The results of those first starts as the No. 1 range from solid to spectacular, depending on the individual’s experience and the team’s opponent. Malone was a freshman transfer from Tulane University when he got the nod in the 2005 season opener. In a 49-37 loss to Central Oklahoma University, Malone completed just 15 of 34 passes but made most of them count: 294 yards and three touchdowns. One was a 92-yard TD toss, tying the longest in Wildcat history. He went on to become a four-year starter and ACU’s and the Lone Star Conference’s all-time leading passer.

After starting (and winning) two games in relief of an injured Malone in 2008, Abilene native Stewart emerged as the No. 1 QB to begin the 2009 season and was part of a 19-14 victory over Northwest Missouri State University that was televised on CBS Sports Network. But Gale, a redshirt freshman, became the starter midway through that year and helped the Wildcats reach the playoffs.

Gale was the clear No. 1 in 2010 and proved himself worthy, leading ACU to its first-ever 11-0 record. He began the season with a near-perfect performance – 24 of 30, three touchdowns, no interceptions in a 34-26 Wildcat win. (It didn’t hurt that his teammates that day included future NFL players Daryl Richardson, Clyde Gates and Taylor Gabriel.) Gale started 42 straight games and supplanted Malone as the ACU and LSC career leader in passing yards.

Baker was a fifth-year senior when he finally got his chance to start, and he made up for lost time. In ACU’s first game as a transitional Division I member, Baker threw a Wildcat-record seven TD passes in an 84-6 rout of tiny Concordia University from Alabama in what, incredibly, wasn’t even the worst day of the Hornets’ season. (That came two weeks later when the Concordia team bus caught fire and burned to the ground with all the equipment inside. No one was injured. The university disbanded the program late last year.)

Against a hodgepodge schedule including one FBS and five FCS foes, Baker set an ACU mark with 40 total TDs (35 passing and five rushing).

In 2014, the Wildcats scheduled a full slate of Division I games, beginning with a nationally televised battle on ESPNU against Georgia State University in the Georgia Dome. Playing in front of friends and family in his native Atlanta, then-sophomore McKenzie was 30 of 40 for 403 yards and four TD passes against a lone interception in a nail-biter that GSU won, 38-37, on a last-second field goal.

Sealey’s turn comes Saturday against what may well be the most talented and tradition-rich team any ACU team has ever played and perhaps the most awe-inspiring environment: Falcon Stadium with its nearly 50,000 seats, pregame flyovers and stunning view of the Rocky Mountains. The home team on the field isn’t bad either. Deploying its trademark triple option rushing attack that belies the Academy’s name, Air Force has been to 25 bowl games, eight in the last nine seasons. Fisher DeBerry commanded the cadets for more than 20 years, taking them to within a game of a perfect season and the chance to play for the national championship. Current head coach Troy Calhoun took over in 2007 and has a record of 67-50, which includes the Mountain West Conference’s 2015 Mountain Division title and 12 straight wins at home.

Fairer tests for Sealey begin a week from Saturday against another Centennial State squad, University of Northern Colorado like ACU, an FCS program which visits Shotwell Stadium on Sept. 10. Then the Wildcats close out the month with in-state road games against Southland Conference opponents Houston Baptist University and Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches.

So while no one necessarily expects Sealey to go off in the wild blue yonder of Air Force this weekend, September should at least begin to tell us whether the sky is indeed the limit for ACU’s newest No. 1.

Watch the ACU-Air Force game here or listen live on 98.1 The Ticket here.

Sealey's running ability may prove valuable against a stout Falcon defense.

Sealey’s running ability may prove valuable against a stout Falcon defense.

Willis, others making waves in science world

Albert Einstein Josh Willis 400x475 96

Albert Einstein and Dr. Josh Willis

Writing feature stories in ACU Today magazine does not always require taking a short course in quantum physics, but with “Making Waves,” we came close.

Writer Sarah Carlson (’06) was a good sport about tackling this feature in the newest issue, which involved tracking down globetrotting Dr. Josh Willis (’97) and putting into layman’s terms a bit of the story behind yet another headline-making science endeavor at Abilene Christian University.

Willis, assistant professor of engineering and physics; Marissa Walker (’11), a Ph.D. student at Louisiana State University; Andrew Miller (’14); and senior Hannah Hamilton are part of the story about a discovery confirming a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 theory of general relativity.

In September 2015, physicists with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detected gravitational waves caused by two black holes colliding. The findings were published in an article in Physical Review Letters. LIGO has labs in Livingston, La., and Hanford, Wash.

Hannah Hamilton

Hannah Hamilton

Hamilton, the daughter of theology faculty members Dr. Mark Hamilton (90 M.Div.) and Dr. Samjung Kang-Hamilton (’88 M.R.E.), is working with Willis this summer in Germany at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics. She is just one of many ACU undergrads each year who gains valuable and often rare opportunities to do significant research alongside her professors.

Planck won the 1918 Nobel Prize and was the German founder of quantum physics.

Carlson begins ACU Today’s feature story by describing a scene in which Willis and Einstein met – well, sort of – last fall in Los Angeles. Willis’ wife, ACU associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry Dr. Autumn Sutherlin, captured the moment in this image.

Read more here about the latest professors, students and alumni involved in another major discovery:

At Dillard Hall, community is center

Dr. Phil Schubert with Gayle and Max Dillard in front of Dillard Hall at ACU.

ACU president Dr. Phil Schubert (’91) with Gayle (’57) and Max Dillard in front of Dillard Hall on East North 19th Street.

Abilene Christian University celebrated the grand opening of its 11th on-campus residence for students, Gayle and Max Dillard Hall, on Aug. 19, 2016, in a ceremony honoring its namesakes.

More than 180 sophomore women have moved into Dillard Hall’s apartments, which contain a living space, bedroom and kitchen for two to four students. The facility also boasts several common areas – a front lobby, balcony, art room and multi-purpose room – that residents say help fosters relationships.

“I love living in Dillard Hall because it’s a good transition between dorm life and life in a home or apartment,” said Micaela Janssen, sophomore kinesiology major from Brentwood, Tenn. “It’s close to campus and has extra rooms throughout that encourage community.”

One of her apartment-mates, Meredith Orr, agrees.

“I love Dillard because it has so many amenities, like the workout room and the study areas in the hallways,” said the sophomore management major from North Richland Hills.

Max Dillard was one of the speakers at the Aug. 19 dedication.

Max Dillard was one of the speakers at the Aug. 19 dedication ceremony.

Dillard Hall’s opening came right on time for the new academic year, one in which ACU is expecting near-record enrollment numbers once “12th-day” headcounts are finalized the first week of September.

“I know I speak for everyone by saying Dillard Hall is an answer to prayers,” said Chris Riley, J.D. (’00), vice president for student life. “ACU has seen growing enrollment the past several years, especially among women. Our students need spaces to call their own – to make their home away from home.”

For decades, the three-story building at 633 E.N. 19th St. served as a nonprofit, independent living facility for seniors, known as Christian Village of Abilene. Established by nearby University Church of Christ, land for the project was donated by ACU, and residents often were alumni and retired faculty and staff, as were many of Christian Village’s trustees.

Christian Village board members approached ACU in 2015 about the possibility of purchasing the property and restoring its initial connection to the university as a residence hall. A gift from Gayle (’57) and Max Dillard, of Dallas, made that connection a reality.

The Dillards have seen three children and three grandchildren attend the university.

A bronze statue created by Abilene artist Steve Neves and commissioned by the Dillards was installed in front of the hall’s main entrance. Titled “God’s Messenger,” the work of art depicts a mother reading to children.

“In past conversations, Max shared with me his passion for honoring women like Gayle for the role they play in developing the faith of their children,” said ACU president Dr. Phil Schubert (’91). “Once the prospect for providing a new living space for our young women emerged, we realized it would be a meaningful way to express that appreciation.”

“The importance of this role cannot be overstated,” Schubert said, “and I am moved by Gayle and Max’s love for God and love for those who teach their children the Good News of His son’s saving grace.”

ACU Remembers: Dr. Bruce Evans

Bruce Evans 2010 200x300 96Dr. Bruce Max Evans (’59), veteran former administrator at Abilene Christian University and The ACU Foundation, died Aug. 25, 2016, in Fort Worth, Texas, at the age of 79.

A memorial service will be held Saturday, Aug. 27 at 1 p.m. at Southern Hills Church of Christ (3666 Buffalo Gap Road, Abilene, Texas 79605), with visitation immediately following.

Evans was born July 13, 1937, in Snyder, Texas, graduating from high school there in 1955. He married Jane Ann Rogers (’60) on July 13, 1957. They made their first home in Abilene while he finished his B.S.Ed. and M.Ed. (1960) degrees from ACU, both in music education. He earned an Ed.D. from Texas Tech University in 1968.

He dedicated his life to ministry and higher education.

Evans was a preacher, performing a large number of weddings and funerals, and serving as an elder at Taylor Street Church of Christ in Hobbs, N.M.; Stamford Church of Christ in Stamford, Conn.; and the Highland Church of Christ in Abilene, where he and Jane worshipped for 31 years until their move in retirement to Granbury.

A music teacher at heart and by training, he became a beloved and respected professor and administrator at three universities.

Photo by Brian SchmidtBetween band director roles in two Texas public schools – Rotan ISD (1960-61) and Post ISD (1962-66) – Evans was instructor of music and assistant band director at ACU from 1961-62. He was assistant professor of education at The University of Texas at El Paso (1968-70) before becoming the founding teacher education program chair at Lubbock Christian University (1970-72). He oversaw LCU’s senior college accreditation as vice president for planning and institutional studies (1971-72) before becoming provost and executive vice president (1972-75).

From 1975-84, Evans was president of University of the Southwest in Hobbs, N.M. In 1979, he received ACU’s Grover C. Morlan Medal for outstanding leadership in education.

Evans was ACU’s vice president for university advancement (1984-85) and dean of the Graduate School (1985-88) before becoming president of The Foundation for Economic Education in Irvington, N.Y. (1988-92), and executive director/president of Abilene’s Herald of Truth Ministries (1992-2000). He returned to his alma mater in 2000 as executive director and executive vice president of The ACU Foundation, and retired in 2012.

“Bruce was the consummate advancement officer whose gentle manner and caring spirit quickly won over people’s confidence,” said ACU chancellor Dr. Royce Money (’64). “Everyone knew Bruce was a true Christian servant who modeled integrity and Christ-likeness in all he did. Bruce and Jane have left their legacy mark on ACU, and we all are blessed immeasurably by having known him.”

Evans was a loyal and thoughtful administrator who earned trust by knowing what was best for the university and those who served it.

Bruce Evans at desk Grad School 400x400 96“At a time when there were little means for staff to acquire advanced degrees, he changed the trajectory of my career by supporting me while I did doctoral study,” said Dr. Cheryl Mann Bacon (’77), professor and chair of ACU’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communication. “He made it possible for me to gain administrative experience that eventually led to a faculty role. He was a born teacher and learner, and I’ll be forever grateful for his kind guidance and mentoring.”

He became a Certified Financial planner in 1994 and helped Dan T. Garrett (’73) direct The ACU Foundation’s work in estate planning with donors. Evans was an organizer of the Abilene chapter of the National Society for Fund Raising Executives and a member of the National Committee on Planned Giving.

“Bruce Evans was a man of God, a wise counselor, gifted writer and faithful friend. He was a great team player who rose to the top of every endeavor in his life,” said Garrett, ACU’s vice chancellor and president of The ACU Foundation. “His humility, sincerity and trustworthiness were second to none. I am a better man because of his influence.”

Evans was a founding board member of Disability Resources in Abilene, and a trustee of FaithWorks of Abilene, Austin Graduate School of Theology and World Christian Broadcasting. He also was a board member or president of local chapters of the United Way, Junior Achievement and Rotary Club; and a leader in other civic and educational organizations.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Bruce and Annie Evans, and a sister, Mary Ann.

Among survivors are Jane, his wife of 59 years; a daughter, Melanie (Evans ’82) Bullock; a son, Jay Bruce Evans (’86); five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Memorial gifts may be made to World Christian Broadcasting, Austin Graduate School of Theology, Abilene Christian University (online or mailed to Gift Records, ACU Box 29132, Abilene, Texas 79699-9132), FaithWorks of Abilene, or the ministry of your choice.

ACU Remembers: Dr. Dwayne VanRheenen

DVR at Podium 400x400 96Former Abilene Christian University provost Dr. Dwayne Dale VanRheenen, 72, died Aug. 11, 2016, in Washington state following an illness.

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 28, at Abilene’s Highland Church of Christ (425 Highland Ave., Abilene, Texas 79605). A reception will follow with the family.

VanRheenen was born in the Dutch farming town of Prairie City, Iowa, on April 13, 1944. At a young age, Dwayne’s parents left the Dutch Orthodox Church for the Church of Christ and were shunned from their community. Without family or community support, the growing VanRheenen family moved frequently as Dwayne’s father preached across the Midwest and South, pausing to farm and raise pigs and other livestock when the seasons and financial needs intersected. Dwayne told stories of late nights as a schoolboy (after spending the day in the fields and school) bent over a typewriter pecking out his father’s sermons as he gave dictation. This ethic of work hard, pray hard, study hard was one that stuck with him all his life.

Joan and Dr. Dwayne VanRheenen at the President's Circle Dinner during ACU's Centennial in 2006.

Joan and Dr. Dwayne VanRheenen at the President’s Circle Dinner during ACU’s Centennial in 2006.

Although poorly educated themselves, his parents desired their children to become leaders in ministry and academia, and eventually settled in Paragould, Ark., so Dwayne and his siblings could attend Crowley’s Ridge Academy, a Church of Christ elementary and high school where he met Joan Allison. The two attended Harding University together, began dating and married shortly after graduation on Aug. 26, 1966. He spent summers selling Bibles door-to-door for the Southwestern Book Company and preaching in rural churches to pay his tuition.

Following graduation, Dwayne attended graduate school at the University of Missouri, eventually earning a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in speech communication. He helped plant the Brewer Church of Christ, preached regularly across the region and began to rise in the ranks of academia.

He taught at the University of Maine from 1970-85, serving as associate professor and chair of speech communication. He also was coordinator of graduate studies while an adjunct professor of speech at Bangor Theological Seminary.

In 1985, he accepted a position at Pepperdine University and formally began his love affair with Christian higher education – a passion that would last for 25 years. He was dean of Pepperdine’s Seaver College of Letters, Arts and Sciences while directing the college’s graduate programs and serving as a professor of communication. He also was an elder in the Conejo Valley Church of Christ for nine years, recognized as a Christ-centered, people-first, compassionate leader and intellectual.

DVR 7In 1996, he became provost of ACU, where he championed many transformative initiatives to increase the university’s academic reputation, including the Adams Center for Teaching and Learning, the Honors College, the Study Abroad program, the First-Year Program, the College of Education and Human Services, the School of Social Work, the School of Information Technology and Computing, the Graduate School of Theology, faculty renewal leaves, the advancement of women and minority faculty, funding for faculty development, increased rigor in tenure and promotion, and a new general education core.

In all things, he sought to make ACU more academically competitive and prestigious, racially and culturally inclusive, all while still holding strongly to its deep Church of Christ roots. He remained a modern-day reformer, both on campus and in his role as elder at the Highland Church of Christ, until his retirement in 2009.

In retirement, he and Joan lived in Washington to be closer to their children and grandchildren.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Chalmer and Lorna Van Rheenen, and a granddaughter, Jenna Westerholm.

Among survivors are Joan, his wife of 49 years; two sons, Nathan VanRheenen and Derek VanRheenen (’00 M.S.); a daughter, Michele Westerholm; two brothers, Gailyn Van Rheenen (’75 M.S.) and Mark VanRheenen; two sisters, Karen Cuthbertson and Lorual Peschka; and six grandchildren.

Memorial gifts may be made to the Jenna Westerholm Endowed Scholarship at ACU that benefits teacher education majors (online or mailed to Gift Records, ACU Box 29132, Abilene, Texas 79699-9132).

‘A God Thing’: Perrys, WCB, ACU, Madagascar

The Perry family in 1967 (from left): siblings Greg (’83), Susan (’77) and David (’73) with Earline (Davidson ’48) and Lowell (’47).

The Perry family in 1967 (from left): siblings Greg (’83), Susan (’77) and David (’73) with Earline (Davidson ’48) and Lowell (’47).

Susan Perry (’77) says their vacation scrapbooks while growing up had as many images of radio equipment as family members. That happens when your forward-thinking father is an expert in using short wave technology for mass communication and world evangelism.

“Dad was always taking pictures of towers and turntables, scouting out places to share with others who were looking for stations or equipment to purchase,” Susan said. “We got used to it but it probably seemed a bit strange to others.”

The Second Glance essay in the new Summer-Fall 2016 issue of ACU Today, “Short wave radio still makes the Gospel world go round,” is a tribute to Dr. Lowell Perry (’47), his wife, Earline (Davidson ’48), and the legacy they created through World Christian Broadcasting (WCB), which he helped found.

Lowell, a professor of communication at ACU, lost his life in 1977 while searching the Caribbean by plane for a new site for a WCB transmitter tower. Earline carried WCB’s proverbial torch for decades as a board member and de facto cheerleader, until her passing on Feb. 19, 2016.

Ravalomanana, pictured here with ACU president Dr. Royce Money (’64), received an honorary doctorate from ACU in 2008.

Former Madagascar president Ravalomanana, pictured here with ACU president Dr. Royce Money (’64), received an honorary doctorate from ACU in 2008.

She so looked forward to seeing WCB’s long-awaited transmitters begin broadcasting from a mountaintop in Madagascar, but fell just weeks short of living long enough to seeing – and hearing – her husband’s dream come true. Susan made the trip to represent her family.

The story connecting the Perrys, WCB, ACU and Madagascar qualifies by most estimations as “a God thing,” as we often call providential occurrences too difficult to explain or believe.

It includes the considerable influence of former Madagascar president Dr. Marc Ravalomanana, a devout Christian who opened the door to WCB in 2003. “Come build your station,” he told WCB leaders, whom he allowed to use government land near Mahajanga. Thirteen years later, WCB signals from there and from a second station in Anchor Point, Alaska, now reach the entire world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Madagascar Presidential Scholars Program allowed 24 top Malagasy students to graduate from ACU in 2008. Earline was named ACU’s Outlive Your Life award recipient in 2014.

Read this issue’s Second Glance here:

Women’s hoops stars grace cover of new issue

It’s been 20 years since women’s basketball was the cover story of ACU Today magazine. That’s when the 1995-96 team, led by senior Jennifer Clarkson Frazier and sophomore Shalonda Bowden, went 31-2 and advanced to the NCAA Division II Elite Eight.

Our newest issue features four student-athletes who are helping the Wildcats reach new heights in NCAA Division I.

Twins Lizzy and Suzzy Dimba, along with Alexis Mason and Sydney Shelsted, are featured in our cover story, “Junior Achievement,” for heroics while leading their team to a 31-4 record last season, an unlikely Southland Conference regular season title, and a berth in the Postseason Women’s National Invitational Tournament. Grant Boone (’90), radio and TV voice of the Wildcats, is the writer.

The talented quartet will be seniors in 2016-17, and their team will open the season against the University of Missouri in the Preseason Women’s NIT, along with 15 of the other top teams in the nation.

Other content in this issue – which, including online-only Bonus Coverage – totals 172 pages:

  • In “Preaching the Write Stuff,” freelance photographer Jeremy Enlow provides a look inside the new Max Lucado (’77) Collection donated by the San Antonio minister and best-selling author.
  • Dr. H. Jeff Kimble (’71) is the 2016 Outstanding Alumnus of the Year. A profile of him by Sarah Carlson (’06) leads our coverage of 2016 alumni award winners, including Gilbert Tuhabonye (’01), Jennifer (England ’85) Allen, Ben Jeffrey (’06) and Scotty (’52) and June (’56) Witt.
  • The Vision in Action initiative focuses on groundbreaking of Wildcat Stadium for football, and ongoing construction of Halbert-Walling Research Center and Onstead Science Center.
  • “Is It Worth It?” a look at how ACU is bridging the affordability gap with its value and generous financial aid packages/
  • Tour the new home in Addison for ACU Dallas in “Branching Out”
  • Sarah Carlson’s “Making Waves” probes the role ACU’s Dr. Josh Willis  (’96), senior Hannah Hamilton, and graduates Andrew Miller (’14) and Marissa Walker (’11) played in a massive scientific undertaking that led to the discovery of gravitational waves 100 years after Einstein predicted their existence.
  • The Second Glance essay connects dots between ACU, Madagascar, World Christian Broadcasting and the globetrotting family of Dr. Lowell (’47) and Earline (Davidson ’48) Perry, whose longtime vision for bringing the Gospel to the entire world via shortwave radio was realized this spring.
  • Other Bonus Coverage this issue includes images from Sing Song’s 60th show and a gathering of former hosts, hostesses and directors who helped celebrate it in February; an additional 16 pages on the Max Lucado Collection; and a look inside the 2015-16 women’s basketball season.

Watch this blog in the days to come for backstories of some of these major articles in the new issue. Enjoy the full issue by clicking on the viewer above.

ACU Remembers: Joe B. Baisden

Joe Baisden 1 headshot 250x400 96Joe Bon Baisden (’59), veteran evangelist and former longtime trustee of Abilene Christian University, died Aug. 17, 2016, in Belton, Texas, at age 79.

Visitation is from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at the Belton Church of Christ (3003 N. Main St., Belton, Texas 76513). Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church (506 N. Main St., Belton, Texas 76513), with burial before the service at North Belton Cemetery. A reception will follow the service at First Baptist.

He was born Dec. 7, 1936, in Ennis, Texas, and was salutatorian of the 1955 graduating class of Killeen (Texas) High School. After graduating from ACU with a B.S.Ed. degree, he married Janelle Davis (’56) on June 20, 1959. He did graduate work in music at The University of Texas at Austin and in Bible at ACU.

Baisden served as a minister for many churches, including congregations in Austin (1958-61, 1963-65); Bloomington (1961-63); Washington, D.C. (1965-67); Abilene (1967-70); and the Belton Church of Christ (1971-2004). He conducted gospel meetings and singing workshops for years, and after retiring, served as interim minister for 12 congregations. He and Janelle also were active in promoting Christian camping.

Everywhere he lived, he was a giant in community service. Baisden was a longtime member of the Belton Lions Club (Lion of the Year for 1973-74); Belton Area Chamber of Commerce; Belton library board; and vice chair of the Bell County Child Welfare Board. He served as a Belton councilman and received the Harris Fellowship from the Temple Rotary Club. He also was secretary of Austin’s Northeast Kiwanis Club and president of Abilene’s Key City Kiwanis Club. He received a Friend of Education award from Texas State Teachers Association (1986) served on the Chaplain’s Professional Consultation Committee for Scott and White Memorial Hospital, wrote a weekly column for The Belton Journal, and served on the Parent Advisory Committee for Belton ISD.

He served on ACU’s Board of Development (1975-91), its first Visiting Committee for the College of Biblical Studies (1982-87), the university’s Board of Trustees (1991-2007) and its University Council (2008-16). He received ACU’s Distinguished Alumni Citation in 1980, and in 1991, he and Janelle were presented ACU’s Christian Service Award.

He was preceded in death by his parents, William Joseph Baisden and Bonnie Dean (Whatley) Baisden.

Among survivors are Janelle, his wife of 57 years; a son, Donnie Baisden (’85); two daughters, Jane Anne (Baisden ’86) Cox and Katherine (Baisden ’90) Gibson; and six grandchildren.

Memorials may be made to the Abilene Christian University’s Baisden Scholarship Fund (online or mailed to Gift Records, ACU Box 29132, Abilene, Texas 79699-9132), Belton Church of Christ’s Camp Koinonia or Scott & White Hospice.

10 Questions with David Ramsey from Rio

David Ramsey in Rio 600x400 96The Games of the XXXI Olympiad – also known as the 2016 Summer Olympics from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – are the fourth such assignment for sportswriter David Ramsey (’81), an award-winning journalism graduate of Abilene Christian University. A columnist for The Gazette newspaper in Colorado Springs, Colo., he writes about professional and collegiate sports in and around Colorado Springs, the home of the U.S. Olympic Committee and the Olympic Training Center, and for ACU Today magazine. Follow Ramsey’s daily coverage here.

Ramsey received ACU’s 1994 Gutenberg Award from the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication for distinguished professional achievement. This image of him from Rio is courtesy of photographer Mark Reis of The Gazette, a veteran of eight Olympic assignments. See some of Reis’ Olympic coverage on this Instagram page.

David Ramsey

Compared to other Olympic assignments, what was involved in traveling from your home in Colorado Springs to Brazil?

Getting here was easy. I flew from Denver to Houston for a direct flight to Rio. I was joined on the flight by three dozen Olympians, including volleyball gold medalist Kerri Walsh-Jennings and fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad. Seven Homeland Security officers were at the gate in Houston.

What’s involved in getting around Rio and to the various competition venues?

We’re spoiled at the Olympics. I’m on buses for hours every day traveling from venue to venue, but the buses travel in Olympic lanes that are cleared of traffic. This means I’m often rolling fast past traffic jams. Olympic Lanes are great for journalists and not-so-great for Rio drivers.

What do you see from outside your hotel window? 

Rio is a huge city with 11 million people in the metro area. I’m staying in newly built media lodging that will become condos. It’s on the southern edge of the city, and there’s not much out there. I’m surrounded by hills with jungle-like growth, and I go to sleep at night listening to exotic bird calls. I’m happy to have a bed in which to sleep. After a complicated mixup, there was no room for me when I arrived in Rio. After a frantic day, a man named Dark Santos (yes, Dark is his real name) solved my Olympic housing crisis.

What are the security issues you face each day, and how do you weigh the potential risk with doing your job as a journalist? 

Security is serious at Olympics. The lines have not been long here in Rio. I spent hours in security lines in 2004 in Athens, but it’s never been as bad since. At the Beijing Games in 2008, security personnel were uncomfortably thorough with frequent pat downs. In Sochi in 2014, the security was lax and workers seemed only lightly interested. Rio is just about right.

What are the most favorite and forgettable foods you have consumed thus far, and why?

The seafood can be amazing, especially at Adega Perola, a Portuguese restaurant near Copacabana Beach. Wish I were sitting there right now instead of typing these words. I eat many of my meals at the media center, and it’s fine. Basic. Fast. Decent food. I’m just happy to have time to eat.

Rio looks like a travel postcard but we hear appearances can be deceiving. What are some of the contrasts you have observed?

Rio is a city of extremes.  It reminds me of Mexico City. When Rio soars, it soars with any city in the world. The mountaintop Christ the Redeemer statue is every bit as beautiful as you expect. The port area is filled with 19th-century buildings and city squares with massive palm trees. The beaches are gorgeous. But when Rio sinks, it’s right down there with the worst of the world. A stream that is essentially an open sewer flows right by Olympic Park. This amazes and depresses me. The slums – favelas – dominate many sections of the city. I have to wonder – anybody has to wonder – if the billions spent on the Olympics could have been better used to clean up the water and build housing and improve life for the poor in Rio.

Which competitions are you covering and what have been your favorite moments thus far, and why?

I’m covering basketball, track and field, swimming, gymnastics, cycling, wrestling and soccer, among others. This is my fourth summer Olympics, and I’ve watched 15 of Michael Phelps’ gold medals. A couple days ago, I rode an elevator with Phelps from a fifth floor to the ground floor. He was looking at his photo on the cover of Sports Illustrated and observing how the image had been photoshopped. He was not pleased. My favorite moment was a personal one. I covered 800-meter runner Boris Berian in high school. He was a multiple Colorado state champ who later lost his way, dropped out of college and traveled home to work the counter at McDonald’s. That was two years ago. He ran in the Olympic 800 finals and, alas, finished last, but he finally reached his potential.

How does Rio compare to other Olympic venues you’ve experienced?

The Olympic Parks in Athens and Beijing were astounding monuments to architecture. I walked through those parks every day for two weeks and never stopped being dazzled. But those parks were also astoundingly expensive. I doubt any future Olympic Park will match Athens and Beijing. Rio’s Olympic Park reminds me of London’s Olympic Park. Impressive, yes, but never sensational.

Most Rio residents speak Portuguese. Has language been a barrier or a bridge for you, and why?

Brazilians are kind, patient and almost always willing to help, even if it costs them a few minutes. I learned long ago to be willing to ask questions when I can’t find my way in a city far from home. Last night, I was looking for a famous old and ornate cafe here, the Columbo. The cafe is hidden in a complicated section of downtown with winding and narrow cobblestone streets. I knew I was close, but couldn’t find it. I asked a man on the street for help. He didn’t speak English, but he understood “Columbo.” He led me and a friend for two blocks to the front door of the cafe. That story sums up Brazilians for me.

What advice would you give a journalist covering the Olympics for the first time?

You can’t fully prepare, and you need to be able to improvise, and you need to find a way to survive and thrive without much sleep. In my previous four Olympic trips, I made detailed plans for each day, and I made those plans weeks before the trip. On this trip, I plan a day ahead. I let what’s happening that day dictate my plans. Covering the Olympics reminds me of life as a student at ACU when I was going full speed 18 hours, and sometimes more, each day. Same at the Olympics. I’ll sleep when I return home to Colorado. One other slice of advice: Make sure to get out of the Olympic bubble and have fun. Grumari Beach is a 10-minute cab drive from my hotel. Sitting in the sand, watching the waves and thinking about nothing has become as essential as sleeping and eating.

ACU Remembers: Dr. Chantrey Fritts

Fritts 175x225 96Longtime Abilene Christian University teacher education professor Dr. Chantrey Alfred Fritts Jr. (’53) died Aug. 9, 2016, at age 85. He was a 41-year resident of Abilene, spending the final few years of his life in Lubbock while caring for his wife through a medical crisis, and then his own struggle with Alzheimer’s.

Fritts was born April 9, 1931, in Sterling, Colo., and graduated from South Denver High School in 1949. He married Aynsley Lillian Ruth Pennock on June 11, 1955.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in education from ACU, and a master’s (1954) and a doctorate in education from the University of Denver (1967). He was a teacher, counselor and administrators in Denver Public Schools for 14 years. He joined the ACU faculty in Fall 1967, beginning more than four decades of service as professor and chair of teacher education, and supervisor of student teachers at his alma mater.

Among his accolades were being named ACU’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year in the College of Professional Studies (1986-87), and receiving the Mentor Award from the Texas Student Education Association (1985), and the Kyle Kilough Award as educator of the year by the Texas Society of College Teachers of Education, Texas Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and the Texas Teacher Center Network (1988). He also served in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Fritts retired in 2001 as professor emeritus of education, and was a longtime elder at Abilene’s Hillcrest Church of Christ.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Edna Violet Smith and Chantrey Alfred Fritts, Sr., and a sister, Nancy Vourexes.

Among survivors are Aynsley, his wife of 61 years; three daughters, Debbie (Fritts ’80) Paxton, Jennifer (Fritts ’82) Carpenter and Toga Broom; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.