BROWNWOOD – October 5, 2012 – Howard Payne University will recognize nine outstanding alumni during Homecoming 2012 weekend, Oct. 12-14.
Honorees include Distinguished Alumni – Joe ’55 and Almola ’55 James; Outstanding Young Graduate – Chad Gann ’97; Medal of Service – Winifred Dodds ’58 (posthumous); Medal of Service – Chuck Gartman ’72; Coming Home Queen – Joyce Clay ’77; Grand Marshals – Dale ’55 and LaVerne ’54 Gore; and Dr. José Rivas Distinguished Service Award – Dr. Moises Rodriguez’81.
Six of the awards will be presented during the Sodexo Alumni Banquet on Friday, Oct. 12, beginning at 6 p.m. in the Mabee University Center’s Beadel Dining Area. Tickets packages for Homecoming Weekend can be purchased by contacting the Office of Alumni Relations at 800-950-8465 or 325-649-8069 or by visiting http://homecoming.hputx.edu/.
The Dr. José Rivas Distinguished Service Award will be presented at the Hispanic Alumni Breakfast on Saturday, Oct. 13, at 7:30 a.m. This event will be held in the Mabee University Center’s Bullion Suites and is free of charge.
Biographies of the honorees follow:
Joe ’55 and Almola ’55 James – Distinguished Alumni
A native of Spur, Texas, Joe James graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from HPU in 1955 and later completed a Master of Science degree in 1963. He received many awards while attending HPU and is a member of the HPU Sports Hall of Fame and former president of the Letterman’s Club.
James was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1954 and began his coaching career in 1955 at Hamilton High School. Later he served at LaVega High School as assistant coach, athletic director and head football coach. In 1964, he returned to HPU as head football coach. He served four years at HPU before becoming a sporting goods representative. He also served in the National Guard, 142nd Infantry, 36th Division, and has been an active deacon at First Baptist Church in Brownwood for many years.
His wife, Almola (Clements) James, is also a 1955 HPU graduate. A native of San Saba, she received a Bachelor of Science degree from HPU, followed by Master of Education and Master of Art degrees in 1966. Her teaching career of 34 years includes tenures at LaVega High School, Brownwood High School and HPU. She has been an active member of FBC Brownwood for many years and enjoys active membership in numerous organizations, such as The Mary Garland Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Welcome C. Chandler Chapter of the Republic of Texas, the Pecan Valley Genealogy Society, Brown County Retired Teachers and the National Society of Colonial Dames, to name just a few.
The couple was married in 1954. They enjoy traveling and consider themselves fortunate to have visited all fifty states. They have two children.
Chad Gann ’97 – Outstanding Young Graduate
Chad Gann graduated from HPU in 1997 with a Bachelor of Music degree. While at HPU, he participated in several campus groups including the A Capella Choir, Heritage Singers, Iota Chi Alpha fraternity and the Student Senate. As a student, Gann was active in the local community through work as a licensed paramedic. He also served a student ministry internship at Coggin Avenue Baptist Church, where he was promoted to a fulltime associate minister to students upon graduation.
In 2000, Gann joined the Arlington Police Department and, in 2004, was promoted to the rank of sergeant. Gann was asked to serve as the accreditation manager and policy analyst for the Arlington Police Department in 2007. He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 2008 where he served as patrol commander until his appointment as the Special Operations (SWAT) Commander in 2011. Currently, he serves as the acting deputy chief over the Operations Support Division, which includes overseeing SWAT, traffic investigations, homeland security and special events.
He earned a Master of Arts degree in marriage and family counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2006, a Master of Arts in criminology and criminal justice from The University of Texas at Arlington in 2008 and is currently in the dissertation phase of a Doctor of Philosophy degree in public and urban administration with an emphasis in criminal justice administration, also from UTA.
Lt. Gann has served as an adjunct professor at HPU, UTA and Dallas Baptist University.
Winifred Dodds ’58 (posthumous) – Medal of Service
Winifred Dodds, a graduate of Early High School, was a member of HPU’s Class of 1958. While a student at HPU, he was on the Howard Payne CenTex Aggies judging team, which he greatly enjoyed. He later went on to receive his master’s degree from Hardin-Simmons University in 1967.
Dodds spent a total of 34 years in the public school system, 31 of those years in administration. He loved working with students. His first teaching and coaching job was in Norton. From there, Dodds served in Noodle-Horn, where he received the honor of Basketball Coach of the Year in 1971 for the Abilene West Texas Area. He later became superintendent at Noodle-Horn, as well as at Paint Creek, Jonesboro and Blanket.
He was one of four Dodds brothers who graduated from HPU. Winifred, Marlin ’54, Bobby ’60 and Roy ’63 were all superintendents for independent school districts in the state of Texas at the same time. Research showed that no other family in Texas had ever had four brothers accomplish this.
Dodds wanted to stay involved with students even after his retirement in 1989, so he began working with Scholastic Analyst to complete teacher appraisals throughout the state. He also worked nine years with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. During his retirement, he also served as interim superintendent in a variety of locations. In 1994, he was employed by HPU as the student teacher supervisor, a role he held for 17 years. In 2010, he was chosen to serve on the HPU School of Education’s Advisory Council.
Dodds was married to the love of his life, Shirley Boyd, for almost 54 years. They have three children, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Dodds passed away in November 2011.
Chuck Gartman ’72 – Medal of Service
Charles “Chuck” Gartman graduated from McAllen High School before coming to HPU. During his time at HPU, he was the president of the Baptist Student Union and later the BSU student assistant, student assistant athletic dorm director, president of his fraternity and was named to the Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities. He graduated from HPU in 1972.
Upon graduation Gartman attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where he earned his Master of Divinity degree with an emphasis in ethics and pastoral care in 1974. Later, he attended the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary to continue post graduate studies in youth ministry. Soon after returning to HPU in 2002 as assistant professor of Christian studies, Gartman received the university’s award for Excellence in Teaching for the 2003-2004 academic year.
Gartman was instrumental in helping HPU establish a youth ministry emphasis in its religious education program. He also served as a consultant in creating the Master of Arts degree in youth ministry. Active in a variety of missions and educational endeavors, Gartman currently teaches as adjunct for the Christian Studies department and is president of “Go To” Youth Ministry, Inc., a national youth ministry consulting firm. He also serves as the minister of education/leadership development at Field Street Baptist Church in Cleburne.
Gartman met his wife, Connie (Glass) Gartman, while they were students at HPU. They have three daughters and three grandchildren.
Joyce Clay ’77 – Coming Home Queen
Joyce Clay, a native of Clarendon, is a 1977 HPU graduate. She is a member of the HPU Alumni Association and has served for three years on the organization’s Board of Directors. Additionally, she is a member of the HPU African American Alumni Association where she has served as both secretary and vice president.
Clay has served in many churches across the state, working as a youth director, Acteens director and director of a reading improvement program. She has also served in the Navarro County Food Pantry as a volunteer and on its board as vice president. Additionally, she served on the Mary Peterson Day board in Corsicana and the Martin Luther King Board of Directors.
Clay is currently a member of the Giddings New Horizons Lions Club, where she is a member of the board, the Lion Tamer and was named Lion of the Year in 2011.
She is a member of Concord Church in Giddings, where she is a deaconess, director of The Kitchen and former member of the Praise Team. Clay met her late husband, Chester, during their time at HPU. They have one son.
Dale ’55 and LaVerne ’54 Gore – Grand Marshals
Dale Gore, a native of Corpus Christi, enrolled at HPU upon the influence of his pastor, Kenneth Hiner, an HPU graduate. Gore was editor of the Yellow Jacket for two years and was involved in the Life Service Band and Mission Band. Following graduation, he was on the staff of First Baptist Church Uvalde and later First Baptist Hillsboro. He then pastored Baggett Creek Baptist Church in Comanche County while attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.
After graduation from seminary, he served as music and youth director at First Baptist Church of Brownwood. After two years in Brownwood, Dale was called to be pastor of FBC Whitewright. Other pastorates included FBC Goldthwaite; Trinity Baptist, Sherman; and FBC Denison. In 1989, he was called to be the executive director of the Austin Baptist Association where he served for 10 years. Upon retirement he pastored the Elm Grove Baptist Church in Bell County for 12 years.
While he was an HPU student, he met his future wife, LaVerne Dennis. They shared several classes, sat in consecutive rows of assigned seats in Mims Auditorium at Chapel and sang in the school chorus. They were engaged by the beginning of their junior year.
LaVerne grew up in Brownwood, where her father pastored Melwood Baptist Church. She graduated from HPU in August 1954, and the couple married the same month. While her husband completed his senior year, she taught school in Cross Plains. She went on to teach at schools across the state, retiring in 1989. For six years she served as a special education consultant for the Baptist General Convention of Texas, helping churches begin and maintain Sunday school and Vacation Bible School programs for special-needs children and adults. She also taught in the education department of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor for four years.
The Gores have remained active at HPU through Homecoming and the Alumni Association. They each served on the Alumni Association Board of Directors, with Dale serving as president for a term. He also served on the HPU Board of Trustees for nine years and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1988. He is presently serving on the board again. LaVerne was named Coming Home Queen during Homecoming 2002.
They are now retired, enjoying their home in Salado and engaging in activities at FBC Salado. They particularly enjoy time spent with their children, grandchildren and two great-grandsons.
The couple’s son Jeffrey graduated from HPU in 1984 and, since 2007, four of their grandchildren have graduated from HPU: Addie Barnett and husband R.J., Emily Gore and Molly Gore.
Dr. Moises Rodriguez ’81 – Dr. José Rivas Distinguished Service Award
Dr. Moises Rodriguez, a native of Carrizo Springs, enrolled in HPU’s Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom program in 1977. After earning his Bachelor of Science degree in 1981, he pursued his Master of Divinity degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, gaining that degree in 1986. In 1997, he completed his Doctor of Philosophy degree at Baylor University.
Dr. Rodriguez has served as the outreach worker for Southside Area Ministries in Fort Worth, providing assistance and orientation to American life for refugees. He has also served as the pastor for Mision Bautista of Dublin, Primera Baptist Church of Fort Worth and Iglesia Bautista Del Salvador of Waco, growing those churches during his time with them.
From 1990 until 1997, Dr. Rodriguez and his family lived and served in Atlanta, working as field staff for the Southern Baptist Convention. He was the associate director of ethnic leadership development for the SBC and also interim pastor at Mision Bautista Briarlake. Later, he became the director of the Church Multiplication Department for the SBC before moving on to a position as manager for the SBC’s Hispanic Church Planting Unit.
Recently, Dr. Rodriguez has served as the pastor and senior pastor of Primera Baptist Church in Fort Worth while also serving as director of the North Texas Church Planting Institute and Leadership Development Center. Active in a wide range of ministry and training roles, his current work includes serving as dean of the Baptist Bible Institute and continuing education departments for the Baptist University of the Americas in San Antonio.
Dr. Rodriguez married Abigail Dominguez in 1984. They have two children, one of whom – Julia – is a junior at HPU.