E.D. Chambers was chair of ACU’s Board of Trustees from 1942-43.
Although the building bearing the Chambers name is gone, the legacy of E.D. and Julia Chambers continues on.
Chambers Hall was demolished over Spring Break – the spot where it stood for 85 years now empty, awaiting a new chapter with construction of the Halbert-Walling Research Center. With attention turning to the future, let’s take a moment to appreciate the history of one of Abilene Christian University’s most generous families.
From 1929-45, E.D. Chambers was a member of the Abilene Christian College Board of Trustees, serving as its chair in 1942-43. But that long relationship began with an unexpected visit.
In 1928, two members of the board – J.E. McKinzie and J.C. Reese – traveled through rural West Texas, looking for families willing to support the college, which at the time was in near-constant financial trouble and planning to move campuses from downtown Abilene to the Hashknife Ranch northeast of town.
W.N. and Zona Luce had agreed to give 640 acres, and the trustees went to a bank in Spur, about 70 miles east of Lubbock, to close the deal.
Reese recalled the visit in an interview with Mae Robbins (’54) for her 1960 master’s thesis analyzing donations the college had received in its first 50 years.
A circa 1940s look at the library housed in Chambers.
“We asked Brother W.B. Lee, president of the bank, if he knew of anyone else who would be interested in helping Abilene Christian College in a similar way,” Reese told Robbins. “He suggested Mr. E.D. Chambers of Afton. We visited Mr. and Mrs. Chambers and told them of our need. He gave us a check and invited us to come back. We looked at the check later and found it to be made for $500.”
Adjusted for inflation, that would be the equivalent today of writing a $7,000 check.
That seemingly off the cuff, $500 gift quickly turned into much more. McKinzie and Reese went on to Amarillo, then swung through Afton on their way back to Abilene. Visiting again with Chambers, Reese recalled the rancher “said that he had 160 acres he wanted to donate to the college. Then he studied a minute and said that would leave a 40-acre jog so he would throw in the extra 40 acres, too, and he already knew a man who wanted to buy the land.”
Catchings Cafeteria was housed in Chambers until McGlothlin Campus Center opened in 1968.
The family presumably sold the land because in 1929, ACU received $30,000 from E.D. and Julia Chambers – or nearly $412,000 in 2015 dollars. In return, one of the new campus’ original buildings was named Chambers Hall.
E.D. Chambers’ tenure on ACU’s board was bookended by significant gifts. Late in their lives, he and Julia established the Chambers Trust Estate, setting aside more than $150,000. Of that, $65,000 ($850,000 when adjusted for inflation) went to fund what became McKinzie Hall, with the remainder invested so that the returns would be split between ACU and church missions.
The gift was made in January 1945; E.D. and Julia Chambers died within a week of each other that July. The trust was transferred to ACU’s endowment in 1999, and it continues to award money for student scholarships today, 88 years after E.D. first pressed a check into the hands of Reese and McKinzie.
Wildcat fans who may still be in denial that Abilene Christian University is playing major NCAA Division I competition need to head to Crutcher Scott Field in April.
Kudos to head baseball coach Britt Bonneau, whose team plays in the historically strong Southland Conference, for not shying away from challenging the best competition in the Southwest.
Junior catcher Alex Copeland
Scheduling such heavyweights can be hard on the won-loss record but is part of the process of seasoning Bonneau’s team for future success, especially when ACU is surrounded geographically with premier programs across Texas, Oklahoma and Arizona.
On April 14, Texas Tech University’s baseball team makes its first appearance on ACU’s campus since 1995. The Wildcats gave the Red Raiders, who played in the 2014 College World Series, all they wanted on March 3 when the two teams battled for 16 innings in Lubbock before ACU fell, 6-5. Tech was ranked No. 5 in the nation at the time.
Head coach Britt Bonneau and junior outfielder Heath Beasley
Earlier this week, ACU hosted No. 23 Dallas Baptist University at Scott Field. DBU is a member of the Missouri Valley Conference and a perennial power in college baseball with appearances in the NCAA regional tournament four of the past seven years. In the game Monday night, ACU matched the Patriots’ firepower after the first inning but couldn’t overcome an early 6-0 deficit and lost, 11-6.
The Wildcats have rematches with Texas Tech (April 21 in Midland) and TCU (April 22 and May 12 in Fort Worth), and play No. 1 Texas A&M University in College Station on April 15.
Later this season ACU plays at No. 11 Arizona State University (May 19 in Tempe) and No. 20 University of Arizona (May 21-22 in Tucson).
Underdogs frequently pull shockers in topsy-turvy collegiate baseball. ACU upset Arizona – the 2012 national champion and a power in the Pac 12 Conference – on their home field late last spring in Tucson.
Newest renderings of the Halbert-Walling Research Center show a lecture hall dominating a glassed-in lobby, reminiscent of other on-campus facilities, such as Williams Performing Arts Center and Hunter Welcome Center. A rendering of Onstead Science Center, formerly Foster Science Building, stands to the right.
The campus transformation begun 13 months ago under the Vision in Action initiative continues next week, as crews break ground on the new Halbert-Walling Research Center.
The groundbreaking ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. next Tuesday, March 31, after which crews will begin constructing the 54,000-square-foot classroom and laboratory facility serving ACU’s biology, chemistry and biochemistry, and pre-health professions programs.
Halbert-Walling Research Center is named for David (’78) and Kathy (Gay ’78) Halbert, whose $15 million gift through their Caris Foundation was one of the three major contributions that will transform the ACU campus in a way not seen for 50 years, and for David Halbert’s grandfather, Dean Walling (’30), a former ACU trustee and chair of the Design for Development Campaign that led to the construction of numerous buildings in the 1960s and ’70s.
An aerial rendering looking southeast shows Halbert-Walling Research Center situated south of Phillips Education Building and north of Nelson Hall, with Onstead Science Center at right and Gardner Hall in the background. The rendering includes a look at a reimagined quad for the campus’ south side.
Halbert-Walling is one of three science facilities to be built through the $75 million Vision in Action initiative. The Engineering and Physics Laboratories at Bennett Gymnasium have been completed, and crews continue to work on transforming Foster Science Building into Onstead Science Center. Across campus, the new Elmer Gray Stadium for soccer and track and field is on pace for an April 10 grand opening and Wildcat Stadium will be the first on-campus ACU football facility since World War II.
The groundbreaking for Halbert-Walling follows the demolition of Chambers Hall, the former residence hall, library, dining hall and academic facility whose piecemeal destruction can be seen via time-lapse video here. Halbert-Walling is scheduled for completion in Fall 2016.
Daryl Richardson (’14) had 541 runs and catches in three seasons as a running back for the Abilene Christian University football team, and not once did he fumble. But when he took a knee last Dec. 31 in New York City, the ball dropped.
Displaying some of the same dramatic flair he flashed in a Wildcat uniform, Richardson – now with the New York Jets – proposed to his ACU college sweetheart from a horse-drawn carriage in the heart of Times Square on New Year’s Eve. Boom.
“He asked right before midnight,” says Morgan (Myrick ’09) Richardson. “So right as I said ‘Yes,’ the clock struck 12 and immediately fireworks went off all around us. It was perfect.”
The fireworks first went off between the two in 2009: Morgan’s last year as an ACU undergrad; and the first for Daryl, who had transferred from Cisco College to follow in the footsteps of his brother, Bernard Scott(’10), the Wildcats’ all-time rushing leader. Morgan had organized a weekly mentoring program pairing ACU student-athletes with local at-risk youths. She remembers a particular October day in which Daryl agreed to take on an extra kid who didn’t have a player to pal around with. The boy, like Daryl, was a running back; but he didn’t have much to run in. His shoes were shot. So Daryl passed on to the youngster the cleats he’d been eagerly waiting a month to receive from Scott, who was in his rookie season for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Morgan witnessed what happened, and soon after they themselves were a pair.
“Something about that day,” she remembers. “I was like, ‘I’m going to end up marrying this guy.’ ”
Daryl and Morgan Richardson
She was right. Flanked by a phalanx of gridiron groomsmen, Daryl and Morgan married Saturday night in their alma mater’s Chapel on the Hill. Officiating the ceremony was Dr. Jerry Taylor, ACU associate professor of Bible and ministry, and one of their heroes in the faith. The wedding party, 30 in all, looked like an overdressed scrimmage. Daryl’s tuxedoed backfield included former St. Louis Rams teammates Steven Jackson and Benny Cunningham and his cousins and fellow Wildcat stars Clyde Gates (’10) and Aston Whiteside(’12). Among the other current and former players there to cheer him on were Scott and ACU’s all-time leading passer Mitchell Gale (’13) – both now with the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts – and Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree.
“Daryl has been so blessed with great people around him,” Morgan says. “I know so many guys go to the NFL and are surrounded by all these people who are going to get them in trouble and just want to party. But Daryl got there and God seriously looked over him and blessed him with the best people.”
Jackson’s hospitality was noteworthy because of the cutthroat nature of the NFL. The perennial Pro Bowl player and the Rams’ all-time leading rusher could have seen Daryl as a rookie trying to take his job and given him the stiffarm. Instead, he extended a hand of welcome.
Richardson and NFL teammates Steven Jackson and Benny Cunningham.
“He’s a great guy,” Daryl says of Jackson. “He gave me the ins and outs of the NFL, a lot of knowledge. He’s always there for me when I need him. One thing he taught me is to take care of the people coming in under you.”
Which is what Daryl did in his second year in 2013 when Cunningham came in as a rookie after Jackson signed as a free agent with the Atlanta Falcons.
This season will be Daryl’s fourth in the NFL and the Jets, who signed him as a free agent in 2014, his second team. He spent all of last season on the practice squad – a reserve group of players available to a team as needed – but hopes new head coach Todd Bowles will give him a chance to prove himself. Which is fine. He’s used to it.
Richardson proposed to Myrick on a carriage ride in New York City.
Daryl arrived in Abilene with the weight of expectations as the little brother of ACU’s greatest running back and left with arguably the best numbers of any Wildcat ball carrier not named Bernard Scott or Wilbert Montgomery(’77). He was the penultimate player taken in the 2012 draft (252nd out of 253) yet defied the statistical odds and made the Rams’ opening day roster. When Whiteside made the Chicago Bears practice squad the following year, it meant four family members – along with Scott and Gates (currently with the Tennessee Titans) – from the tiny Texas town of Vernon (population approximately 12,000) had reached professional football’s highest level in a five-year window. (That is the equivalent of the city of Abilene sending 40 high school players to the NFL in five years.) And last December, Daryl’s remarkable journey came full circle when he returned to ACU to join Gates as the only members of their family to graduate from college.
There is no way to know whether or not Daryl will make it back onto the Jets’ or any team’s active roster. As Morgan says from their experience, “The NFL is full of empty promises and broken dreams.” But keep an eye on Daryl Richardson. He has a way of quietly working his way into record books and rosters and horse-drawn carriages. Who knows? Maybe a new year in New York means more fireworks.
Forgive Whitney West if she didn’t quickly catch on to the fact that Tanner Swinford was asking her to marry him. She was a little wet behind the ears.
It was Sunday, Jan. 25, and the junior point guard on the Abilene Christian University women’s basketball team had just been baptized – along with Swinford – at Redeemer Church in Abilene when both were asked to say a few words to the group of family, friends and teammates there to cheer them on. Swinford went first.
Junior guard Whitney West
A Lampasas, Texas, native who came to Christ after a knee injury cut short his senior season of high school football, Swinford spoke of wanting a faith that produces spiritual fruit and a love that could be expressed in speech and action. He meant every word. In fact, he meant more than every word. His testimony was actually setting a back screen for the big question he was preparing to propose. West never saw it coming.
“On this day that I’ve been given the opportunity to outwardly profess my faith in Christ through baptism,” Swinford said, “I would like nothing more than to outwardly profess and proclaim my love for Whitney through a marriage proposal.”
A perfectly executed pick and pop.
The assembled on-lookers gasped and squealed, but West still didn’t realize what was happening until Swinford pulled out the ring and got down on the same right knee that ended his football career and began his life of faith.
“I hate talking in front of people,” West admitted. “So the whole time he was talking, I’m freaking out about what I’m going to say. So I’m looking at him, but I’m not listening all the way. So he literally had to say, ‘Will you marry me?’ before I picked up on it.”
Picking up the question proved considerably more difficult than answering it. Yes.
West and Swinford first met in Spring 2013 at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes function for students from ACU, Hardin-Simmons University and McMurry University. Swinford had matriculated at McMurry, having rehabbed his knee strongly enough to earn a scholarship as a sprinter before transferring to HSU to finish his degree in fitness, recreation and sport management. But it wasn’t until a few months later that their relationship went to a higher level. Much higher.
In August, the two found themselves reunited a few miles west of Abilene at Butman Methodist Camp and Retreat Center. Swinford was there to complete his certification as a ropes course instructor. West, there as part of a team-building exercise planned by ACU women’s basketball head coach Julie Goodenough, was on the ropes, 30 feet above terra firma and firmly terrified. The daughter of a pole vault champion is scared of heights.
FROM LEFT: James Smith (Tanner’s stepfather), Joann Davidson (Tanner’s grandmother), Stephanie Smith (Tanner’s mom), Tanner, Whitney, Holli West (Whitney’s mom), Greg West (Whitney’s dad), Mackenzie West (Whitney’s sister), Ben Hatcher (Whitney’s grandfather), Ramona Hatcher (Whitney’s grandmother), Wanda West (Whitney’ grandmother) and Marvin West (Whitney’s grandfather).
Depth, on the other hand, is a turn-on. As their crosstown, intercollegiate romance began the next month and blossomed in the following days and weeks, West was immediately impressed by Swinford’s character.
“I always have fun around him,” she said. “But I think the most attractive thing is his desire to become more like Christ every day.”
By the end of that fall semester of 2013, the two were an item. Swinford accompanied West’s family to Lubbock where the Wildcats were playing in a holiday tournament hosted by Texas Tech University. The weekend was like an early Christmas present, on and off the court. West made all eight of her free throws, including four in the final 20 seconds, as ACU earned a narrow victory over Jacksonville University then followed that up with a stunning upset of Tech the next day. Meanwhile, Swinford and West’s father, Greg, were exchanging a gift that keeps on giving.
“We’re both talkers,” said Swinford, “and we hit it off that weekend.”
It was a relationship each welcomed. Greg and his wife, Holli, have two girls, Whitney and younger sister Mackenzie, but no boys. Swinford has a father, but – for the last several years – no dad. His parents split up when he was in high school, and he has been estranged from his father ever since. Swinford is quick to say Greg has been careful not to overstep his role but has become a father figure anyway.
“A lot of people take it for granted when their dads text them encouragement before a game or a race. I never had that until Greg started sending me messages before my meets.”
One of the top collegiate vaulters in the 1980s at Southern Methodist University and then Texas A&M University, and now a vault coach, Greg West has reset the bar for Swinford on what a husband and father can be.
“He told me, ‘If you ever need anything, I’m here,’ ” Swinford said. “ ‘You and Whitney could break up tomorrow, and I wouldn’t take back anything I said.’ ”
None of this surprises Whitney West: “My dad is a big softie but doesn’t want anyone to know.” Oops.
Swinford had already bought the engagement ring when he flew down to visit with the family at their home in the small South Texas town of Portland in January of this year to ask for Whitney’s hand in marriage. Greg gave his blessing on one condition: Clear it with the coach.
“Whitney had told me she was getting baptized on Jan. 25,” Julie Goodenough said. “So when Tanner called to say he’d like me to be there, I told him our whole team had already planned to come. He said, ‘Well, I’m also going to ask her to marry me that day, and Greg said I need to make sure that’s OK with you.’ I laughed and told him he, of course, has my permission. I hope all of my players find someone like Tanner.”
As West and Swinford think about it now, having both big events on the same day makes perfect sense. Both had been baptized at earlier ages (West as a baby, Swinford while in middle school) but wanted to publicly profess their faith as adults. And what better metaphor for baptism and discipleship than a wedding and marriage?
Both the baptism and engagement apparently agreed with West. She made a splash in her first game after accepting Swinford’s proposal, burying a three-pointer with a minute left in the game to beat Houston Baptist University.
For someone who quit pole vaulting in high school because she didn’t like to find herself upside down, West’s world has been turned that way during her playing career at ACU.
By the time she finishes her senior season a year from now, West will have changed coaches (she was recruited by Goodenough’s predecessor, Shawna Lavender), positions (she’s played the point because it’s what her team has needed, though she’s better suited as a shooting guard), leagues (she was the 2013 Lone Star Conference Freshman of the Year before the Wildcats joined the Southland Conference), NCAA divisions, and soon last names.
As it was with her team’s move up in classification, so it shall be with West and Swinford: The II shall become I.
The wedding is set for Aug. 8 of this year at a pecan farm along the Frio River. If you think West’s feet will be frio, you’re nuts. She’s all in with Swinford. And this time when the question is popped, West will be ready.
Want an eagle’s eye view of the various Vision in Action construction projects at Abilene Christian University?
You can follow along with the help of three webcams positioned to document progress.
This webcam (click on the image for a live view) follows the new Elmer Gray Stadium site as it prepares for grand opening on April 10 and the first track meet in the new facility: the second annual Wes Kittley Classic on April 11 featuring ACU, Texas Tech and TCU. In the distance you’ll see the new Track and Field Fieldhouse, to the left of the existing Soccer and Softball Fieldhouse. Demolition of the former Gray Stadium is scheduled to begin tomorrow:
This webcam (click on the image for a live view) shows initial work on the Onstead Science Center, which began with demolition of Walling Lecture Hall:
This webcam (click on the image for a live view) follows the progress at the site for the new Halbert-Walling Research Center. Its footprint was made possible by recent demolition of Chambers Hall and the one-story Utility Building. In the background is historic Bennett Gymnasium, which is nearing the end of renovations to transform it into engineering and physics laboratories, and to the left is Phillips Education Building (formerly Burford Music Center):
Watch a time-lapse video of the recent demolition of Chambers Hall by clicking on this image:
Abilene Christian University has announced plans to expand its presence in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex with a new campus and several new graduate programs.
“The Metroplex expansion is part of a strategic plan to diversify and extend ACU’s reach,” said president Dr. Phil Schubert (’91). “It allows us to serve a greater number of students who are seeking online and graduate degrees, particularly those students who want a degree from a Christian perspective.”
The search for a site is underway, and new degree programs are moving through faculty approval and accreditation procedures of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Key programs that will launch out of the new campus are:
Doctor of Nursing Practice – Online (research, projected Fall 2016 launch) – research and proposal phase
Master of Communication Sciences and Disorders – Dallas (projected Fall 2016 launch), pending American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and SACSCOC approval
The university currently operates ACU at CitySquare on North Akard Street in downtown Dallas, which allows both undergraduate and graduate students opportunities to apply their learning in real-life situations. ACU students have won awards, including a global Design for Change award, and have been lauded by community leaders for their efforts to solve problems associated with poverty in urban settings while working alongside staff for the nonprofit CitySquare organization.
This new endeavor will build upon the university’s presence in the Metroplex by extending online and graduate offerings to a broader demographic. The site will provide a home base for an expanded selection of online degrees and also will allow for evening, weekend and short courses to be taught on-site. Most of the programs will be offered online or in a hybrid (online with residency) format. ACU will offer a limited number of programs that are face to face as opportunity arises in the future.
Two new leadership roles have been created to lead the effort. Dr. Stephen Johnson (’90), vice president of academic affairs for ACU Dallas, will move to the Metroplex to lead the new site alongside Jay Goin, executive vice president for ACU Dallas.
“The new location will offer our sizable alumni base – including those who are working full time – convenient access to graduate degrees as well as reaching new students in the Metroplex who are seeking an exceptional, Christ-centered graduate school experience,” Schubert said.
There were a lot of Words emanating from a small section of hecklers behind the Abilene Christian University men’s basketball team bench at the McDermott Convocation Center in San Antonio last Thursday night. And they weren’t especially Incarnate.
Those Cardinal sins, while unpleasant, were forgivable; in part because no one is perfect (yes, including ACU fans), and in part because the verbal volleys lobbed by that vocal minority belied a far bigger and more important partnership going on that night between the two universities who find themselves joined at the hip – if not as Siamese twins, then perhaps like you’d be in a three-legged race.
Boone is the radio-TV voice of the Wildcats
ACU and the University of the Incarnate Word have been playing each other in a variety of sports for years, most notably on the baseball diamond in May 2010 when the two teams battled deep into the night twice in a rain-soaked NCAA Division II regional with each team winning once and the Wildcats eventually dealing the Cards a knockout blow. But the rivalry began in earnest when UIW entered the Lone Star Conference in 2010 as the only other private, faith-based institution besides ACU in a league of state universities.
San Antonio resident Maya Sanders, age 11, is fighting a rare disease and counting on the kindness of others who donate blood.
Then, in 2013, both universities moved up from Division II to Division I and joined the Southland Conference. Though ACU co-founded the Southland in 1963, it had been 40 years since the Wildcats were last members. So the only school with which ACU had any real familiarity was Incarnate Word. That familiarity has bred more cooperation than contempt.
In October 2010, UIW invited ACU to participate in a food drive in San Antonio before the first-ever football game between the two teams. Fans from both teams were given a game ticket in exchange for three cans of food, all of which was donated to the San Antonio Food Bank. UIW wasn’t obligated to extend that ticket-for-food offer to ACU but did for the simple reason that more people bringing food equaled more food going to those who really needed it.
Last fall, UIW ticket manager Kevin LePore proposed a challenge to see which institution could get the most fans to donate blood. ACU, inspired by its 1960 Olympic gold medal hero and leukemia survivor Earl Young (’62), already had a drive in the works to register bone marrow donors. Close enough. The schools agreed UIW would be out for blood while ACU would mine for marrow.
UIW assistant coach Jamie Nash
For three days culminating in the aforementioned basketball game last week, more than 100 donors opened their hearts and veins. The drive’s primary beneficiary is Maya Sanders, an 11-year-old San Antonio girl – adopted as an honorary member of the Cardinals’ women’s basketball team this season – who needs monthly blood infusions to combat a rare autoimmune disease. (Read more about Maya’s story here.) Knowing what ACU is planning, UIW also registered 20 marrow donors as a gesture of good faith.
UIW assistant coach Bryant Porter
Now it’s our turn. On April 20-21, ACU will stage its campaign to register as many marrow donors as possible. Young will speak in Chapel on that Monday, and Delete Blood Cancer registration stations will be set up across campus. The entire process consists of completing an information form and swabbing the inside of the cheek. Only one percent of those who register are ever called upon to actually donate marrow. But that one percent included a woman in Germany who had never heard of Earl Young but who saved his life anyway.
I suppose ACU’s target number to win this specific competition with Incarnate Word would be around 120. But unlike the game last Thursday, UIW and its fans will be cheering us on to beat them. Because in this battle of blood relatives, everybody wins.
An excavator takes its first bites out of Chambers Hall Monday morning.
With overcast skies and raindrops in the air, 86-year-old Chambers Hall has begun its final act.
A handful of spectators turned out to watch the demolition begin shortly after 9 a.m. today, then oohed and aahed as an excavator chewed the first chunks of brick and concrete off the southwest corner of the building.
“We’re sad to see it come down,” said Kevin Roberts (’88), vice president of planning and operations, addressing the crowd before the demolition began. “We’re excited about what’s going to be in its place.”
Chambers is making way for the new Halbert-Walling Research Center, one of three new science facilities in the Vision in Action initiative, which also will result in two new on-campus athletics stadiums.
Alumna Liz (Thompson ’79) Sinclair came to watch the demolition on behalf of her daughter, Katherine (Sinclair ’11) Kinnaman, who took classes in Chambers as an English major. Sinclair arrived early in hopes of getting a brick for Kinnaman, whose birthday is today.
“It’s amazing,” she said, “and kind of sad. My daughter would probably be more emotional.”
Scot Colley (’04), executive director of facilities and risk management, obliged her, grabbing an armload of bricks during a break in the action and depositing them in the trunk of her car.
Demolition likely will continue through Wednesday, Colley said, with the excavator reaching the main part of the building on Tuesday.
Chambers was one of the original buildings on ACU’s current campus. Since opening in 1929, it served as a residence hall, library, cafeteria and academic building. The last classes were held in Chambers in December.
In early February, we asked Abilene Christian University alumni who met their spouses on campus to share their stories. We received dozens of tales – funny, touching, incredible. You canperuse them here.
With ACU’s Elmer Gray Stadium scheduled for demolition later this month, we close with a love story featuring Dr. Paul Faulkner (’52), professor emeritus of Bible. He taught on campus full time for 35 years, including 11 as chair of the Department of Marriage and Family Therapy, and was honored in 1982 as the university’s Teacher of the Year. As a student he was a star javelin thrower and pole vaulter, earning enshrinement in 1994 into the ACU Sports Hall of Fame for his accomplishments, many of them performed in Gray Stadium. In 2001, Paul and his wife, Gladys (Shoemaker ’52) were honored with the 2001 Christian Service Award.
Gladys wrote this account of their romance:
Paul and Gladys Faulkner on July 12, 1952
Lilʼ Abner, with his one-shoulder-strap denim overalls, walked into biology class.
Sitting at the back our freshman year in high school, it was my first visual of Paul. He was good looking, but his attire turned me off. I said to myself, “I would never date him.” Then I thought, “I better not say that. I might marry him some day.”
Through our high school years, I knew who he was as a pole vaulter on the track team and as president of our senior class, but we did not meet until the end of that senior year, when we were on a committee together to buy gifts for the senior class sponsors. He said he was curious about my ability to speak the “tut” language, and that was why he asked me for one date to a concert. We went our separate ways into a busy summer.
Each of us was going through the decision process of what college we would go to. I was headed to the University of North Texas. I even had a roommate, but at the last minute was pressured by a preacher and a friend to go to Abilene Christian College. Paul had several track scholarship offers and decided on Rice University. His sister stayed after him into the middle of the night to accept the track scholarship at ACC until he said, “Just let me go to sleep, and I will go to ACC.” We were unknowingly going through this process about the same time.
If we had not enrolled at the same college, I donʼt think we would have married. I believe God led us to ACC for a lot of reasons, No. 1 being a closer walk with the Lord, and No. 2 being to put Paul and me together.
We dated “steady” our freshman year. Our sophomore year, I thought we should date others and “play the field.” He dated almost all of my friends, including my roommate. No one would date me because they thought I belonged to Paul. What a stupid risk of losing him I was taking! I wasn’t interested in anyone else, anyway. Paul was everything I wanted. Before that year was over, I called him (girls did not call guys in those days). He canceled a date with my roommate that night, and we met at Elmer Gray Stadium. No one was there – just the two of us – a kiss Iʼll never forget.
We were engaged our junior and senior years, and graduated together before we married July 12, 1952. We will have been wed 63 years this summer, happy to send our children and grandchildren to ACU to continue the legacy.