Blinn Names Five Civic Leaders to Its Hall of Honor

By: Blinn College Press Release Email
By: Blinn College Press Release Email

BRENHAM Blinn College has selected five distinguished alumni and community leaders for the College’s 2013 Hall of Honor class, to be inducted Oct. 19 at Blinn’s Brenham campus Student Center.

State Rep. Lois W. Kolkhorst was recognized as person of the year, and Janis Sneed, Charles W. Schwartz, Terry Tottenham and Nathan Winkelmann were also named to Blinn’s Hall of Honor, bringing the total number of recipients to 56 since the Hall was founded in 2003 by the Blinn Ex-Students Association.

The Hall of Honor recognizes the college’s most distinguished alumni, business leaders or those who have made a significant impact in their communities or professions. Recipients are recognized at a luncheon during Blinn’s homecoming festivities each year.

Kolkhorst is a member of the Texas House of Representatives, serving House District 13, which includes Austin, Burleson, Colorado, Fayette, Grimes, Lavaca and Washington Counties, and spans more than 5,000 square miles of rural Texas from the Brazos Valley to the Coastal Plains.

As Chair of the House Committee on Public Health, she oversees the state's health care system and sets priorities for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. She is also a member of the House Committee on County Affairs, where she helps solve challenges facing the state's 254 counties.

Kolkhorst spent six years on the House Appropriations Committee, managing and directing funds for public schools, community colleges, universities and medical schools. As an advocate for education issues, she has been honored by both the Texas Retired Teacher Association as well as the College of Education at Sam Houston State University for her longtime support of teacher and classroom issues.

She has written and passed bills that tackle a variety of issues, from healthcare, criminal justice and prison reform to education and agriculture policies, consumer rights, economic development, foster children and domestic violence legislation. Her landmark legislation to improve consumer transparency at colleges and universities was featured in The Wall Street Journal and on the Fox News Channel.

A successful business owner, she's been awarded for her work by the National Federation of Independent Business and the Texas Association of Business. As a champion for state sovereignty and constitutional issues, she's received awards from groups like the Texas Eagle Forum and Empower Texans.

In 2013, she teamed up with Texas CASA to reform the state's foster care system, and that same year worked with March of Dimes to create statewide standards for neonatal intensive care for premature babies. She has received national attention for her efforts to pass an interstate health care compact so more public health policies can be controlled by the states.

An avid hunter, Kolkhorst has received the repeated endorsement of groups like the Texas State Rifle Association, the Texas Wildlife Association and the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. In 2009, she pushed through a restructuring of the Texas Department of Public Safety with bipartisan support, and is known for passing legislation to directly address the costs incurred by illegal immigration.

A staunch supporter of property rights, Kolkhorst joined forces with grassroots groups and gained national attention in 2005 for questioning the proposed Trans-Texas Corridor system of privatized toll roads. For her consistent emphasis on faith and family, she's received the Friend of Children Award from The United Way, as well as the endorsement of pro-life groups like Texas Alliance for Life.

The Texas Farm Bureau has repeatedly recognized her for her support of agriculture issues and the Texas Travel Industry Association has awarded Kolkhorst for her statewide work in promoting Texas tourism.

Prior to public service, she served as CEO for the Washington County Chamber and the Economic Development Foundation of Brenham. A native of Brenham, she is a graduate of Texas Christian University, where she was an accomplished golfer who played for the Lady Frogs golf team, as well as being named to the Academic All-Southwest Conference team. She enjoys the outdoors with her husband, Jim Kolkhorst, and their two children, Lois Kate and Jake. The family lives in Brenham, while they own and operate Kolkhorst Petroleum, based in Navasota.

Raised in Fort Worth, Sneed earned her bachelor and master’s degrees from North Texas State University in health, physical education and recreation and began her teaching and coaching career in Texas and Colorado before coming to Blinn in 1967.
In 1970, Sneed began serving as co-advisor of the national honor fraternity Phi Theta Kappa alongside Robert Giles. Under their leadership, the Beta Alpha Chapter became nationally ranked for 20 consecutive years. The Phi Theta Kappa national office recognized the chapter's success by creating an award for continued excellence in its honor. The chapter, commonly referred to the “intellectual giants of Blinn College,” became ambassadors for Blinn College on campus, in the community and throughout the state. With the passing of Giles, Sneed became senior sponsor and was recognized as Most Distinguished Adviser at the Phi Theta Kappa national convention in 1986.

With the building of the new student center, she resigned her position as teacher and PTK adviser and became director of Student Activities. In 1994, the student center banquet room was named in her honor and an endowed scholarship was created by alumni and friends in recognition of her service to Blinn College. She also received a proclamation commending her outstanding service in education from Gov. Bob Bullock.

After Sneed’s retirement to aid aging family members living outside St. Jo, Texas, she assumed a new role as a cattle rancher. After experiencing the “culture shock” of living on a ranch, Sneed adjusted to rural life and became active in small-town community affairs. She serves as chairman of the Montague County Historical Commission, which has been recognized for the past two years as one of the state's distinguished commissions by the Texas Historic Commission, and has been named outstanding historian in Montague County. She currently operates the Stonewall Saloon, an 1873 saloon-turned-museum, owns a small consignment business on the town square and runs the Lazy Lady Ranch which, she says, is “located 15 miles from nowhere.”

Schwartz, a member of the Blinn College Class of 1973 and the son of former Blinn College president and fellow Hall of Honor member Walter C. Schwartz, is a member of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents, a former chairman of the State Bar of Texas and a practice director/managing partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP & Associates.

Earlier this year, Schwartz was appointed to the Board of Regents of the Texas A&M University System by Gov. Rick Perry, where he serves as chair of the Committee on Finance and as a member of the Committee on Academic and Student Affairs and the Policy Review Committee. He also serves as special liaison to A&M System Research.

Schwartz served as chairman of the board of the State Bar of Texas from 2002 to 2003. He has also chaired a grievance committee and served on the Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct Committee of the State Bar of Texas.

Schwartz is a member of the American Law Institute and is a Sustaining Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation and the Houston Bar Foundation. He is also a Life Benefactor Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, a Fellow of the College of the State Bar of Texas and a member of the Texas Commission for Lawyer Discipline.

He is listed in “The Best Lawyers in America” and was named one of the 2013 “BTI Client Service All-Stars” by The BTI Consulting Group for providing outstanding client service. In 2002, “Texas Lawyer” featured Mr. Schwartz as one of six “go to” lawyers for securities litigation.

In 2004, Schwartz received the Dan R. Price Award from the Texas Bar Foundation. This award honors an outstanding practitioner who is also a significant contributor to bar and community service. Schwartz has given more than 150 speeches on legal topics to groups ranging from the American Bar Association to small local bar groups.

Schwartz’s father, Walter, was named to the Blinn Hall of Honor posthumously in 2003 after serving as the College’s president from 1984-94.

A 1968 Blinn College graduate, Tottenham served as Texas State Bar president from 2010-11.

Tottenham was raised in Brenham, where his father was a doctor and his mother was a nurse and teacher. At 12 years old, Tottenham became the youngest Eagle Scout in Washington County history. He later started the student council at his high school and served as senior class president.

He spent two years at Blinn before transferring to the University of Texas at Austin, where he earned his degree in pharmacy and met his wife, Sue. He went on to graduate from the University of Texas School of Law, then served for years in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he attained the rank of captain.

Tottenham is now counsel to Fulbright & Jaworski, LLP in Austin. He is certified in personal injury and civil trial law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and was the recipient of its first Pro Bono Award. As state bar president, he created the successful pro bono initiative “Texas Lawyers for Texas Veterans” to assist low-income veterans and their families in obtaining access to legal advice and services. This popular program has been replicated in 14 states and is under consideration in many others.

Tottenham has served on the State Bar Board of Directors, as founder and chair of the Health Law Section, and chair of the Litigation Section. An adjunct professor at the University of Texas School of Law, he received TexasBarCLE’s Gene Cavin Award for excellence and has created a national trial skills training program for public service lawyers. Tottenham has served in leadership positions with the American Board of Trial Advocates, Austin Bar Association, American Academy of Healthcare Attorneys, Texas Bar Foundation, Texas Board of Legal Specialization and Texas Young Lawyers Association. He is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, International Academy of Trial Lawyers and International Society of Barristers.

A 1975 Blinn College graduate, Winkelmann grew up in the New Wehdem community and graduated from Bellville High School before attending Blinn College on a football scholarship. A defensive end, he earned All-America honors for the Buccaneers before foregoing many scholarship offers to continue his playing career.

Instead, he took employment with the Santa Fe Railroad tie plant division in Somerville. In 1977, a close friend introduced him to the food brokerage business and he began working with the Folloder Food Brokerage Co. in Houston. A year later, he was asked to join the Coca-Cola foods division as a territory manager selling Maryland Club Coffee and Minute Maid Orange Juice. His responsibilities included calling on Brenham Wholesale Grocery and all stores within a 60-mile radius, which allowed him to move back to Brenham.

In 1981, Winkelmann purchased the property on the corner of Highway 290 and F.M. 389 in Brenham and built Buccaneer Food Store. In 1994, Big Daddy’s BBQ was born, and operated within Buccaneer Food Store until it outgrew the small operating area, spurring a major renovation that was completed in 2010.

Winkelmann is a member of St. James Lutheran Church, which his grandfather Theo Winkelmann helped to found. He is a past member of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, the chamber’s first leadership council and the Washington County Little League board. He continues to enjoy being involved with local sports and aiding local teams in their fundraising efforts. He served on the steering committee that helped raise funds for the Ed and Howard Kruse Athletic Field House at Brenham High School and is proud to have participated in the development of the Blinn Alumni Lettermen Association and awarding the first scholarship through the James Atkinson Scholarship Fund. He served as the Alumni Lettermen Association president for three years.

Winkelmann currently serves as a board member for the Blinn Foundation and the Texas Food and Fuel Association, the state’s largest association that serves convenience store operators and petroleum marketers. He also serves on the First Cardinal Workers Compensation Insurance Board of Texas.

Nathan and his wife of 34 years, Darla, have two daughters – Courtney, a Sam Houston State University graduate who was a member of the 2004-05 Blinn Treasures dance team, and Carlee (’09), a former All-America softball player and homecoming queen at Blinn who earned her bachelor’s degree from Nicholls State University.

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