2014 Recipients of Distinguished Alumnus Award
TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY - A dozen graduates of Texas A&M are receiving a rare honor from their university and its alumni association, including five Former Students from the area.
Tuesday, A&M and the Association of Former Students announced the 12 recipients of the Distinguished Alumnus Award for 2014.
Included in the group are the following:
- Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Tom Darling of College Station
- Ellison Firm managing shareholder Chuck Ellison of College Station
- Ideal Poultry Breeding Farms Chairman Monroe Fuchs of Cameron
- Former leader of Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering and the Texas A&M Engineering Institute Stephen Holditch of Bryan
- Former leader at Cit-Con Oil and Gulf Oil/Chevron and Citgo Charlie Mattei Jr. of The Woodlands
According to the Association, more than 400,000 people have earned degrees from Texas A&M, but only 237 have received the Distinguished Alumnus Award.
More on the recipients is below.
The following is a press release from the Association of Former Students:
Twelve Aggies have been selected as the 2014 recipients of the highest honor bestowed upon a former student of Texas A&M University, the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Texas A&M University and The Association of Former Students are proud to welcome as Distinguished Alumni:
- C.R. "Ray" Holbrook, Jr., Class of 1948, of Santa Fe, Texas
- Charles A. "Charlie" Mattei, Class of 1949, of The Woodlands
- Maj. Gen. Thomas G. "Tom" Darling, Class of 1954, of College Station
- Charlie W. Seely, Jr., Class of 1955, of Fort Worth
- Monroe H. Fuchs, Class of 1956, of Cameron, TX
- Charles R. "Charlie" Wiseman, Class of 1957, of San Antonio
- William Hanna, Class of 1958, of Wichita, KS
- Dr. Sallie V. Sheppard, Class of 1965, of Austin
- Dr. Stephen A. Holditch, Class of 1969, of Bryan
- James A. "Jim" Mayo, Class of 1970, of Mathis, TX
- Clarence Sasser, Class of 1973, of Rosharon, TX
- Charles A. "Chuck" Ellison, Class of 1976, of College Station
Since the inception of the award in 1962, only 237 of Texas A&M's 410,000 former students have been recognized with the Distinguished Alumnus Award, the highest honor bestowed upon a former student of Texas A&M University. Awarded jointly by the university and The Association, this award recognizes those Aggies who have achieved excellence in their chosen professions and made meaningful contributions to Texas A&M University and their local communities.
"Texas A&M is one of the nation's great, public land-grant institutions in large part because of the contributions these outstanding Aggies have made to their professions, their communities and their alma mater," said Texas A&M Interim President Dr. Mark Hussey '79.
The recipients learned of their honor when surprised in their places of business and other locations by a group of university and Association representatives, including Hussey, The Association of Former Students' 2014 Chair of the Board of Directors Kathleen Gibson '81, Association President and CEO Porter S. Garner III '79, a Ross Volunteer, along with Reveille VIII and her handler.
"While our outstanding 2014 Distinguished Alumni represent a broad set of backgrounds and experiences, they all share a common love and appreciation for Texas A&M," Gibson said. "They well represent and actively live our core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect, and selfless service."
Garner echoed the sentiments of Hussey and Gibson and offered his congratulations on behalf of the Aggie Network. "The Aggies selected as Distinguished Alumni represent the highest levels of achievement and service within the Aggie Network," Garner said. "In the 52 years this award has been presented, it has been bestowed upon less than one-tenth of one percent of our former students."
The Association of Former Students will further honor all recipients of this award during its annual Distinguished Alumni Gala on Oct. 10. In addition, the 2014 recipients will be recognized during the Texas A&M football game against Auburn on Oct. 11. Nominations for the 2015 Distinguished Alumnus Award will be accepted beginning May 1 through Oct. 1.
Biographical information on each of Texas A&M University's 2014 Distinguished Alumni is included below, with additional information available at www.AggieNetwork.com/distinguished alumni.
The Association of Former Students, established in 1879, is the official alumni organization of Texas A&M University. The Association connects the nearly 650,000 members of the worldwide Aggie Network with each other and the university, and provides $10.6 million a year in impact to university scholarships, awards, activities and enrichment for students, faculty, staff and former students. For more information about the Distinguished Alumnus Award or The Association, contact Kathryn Greenwade at KGreenwade88@aggienetwork.com or visit www.AggieNetwork.com.
C.R. "Ray" Holbrook, Jr. '48, an engineer and attorney, was Galveston County judge from 1967 to 1995. He received bachelor's and master's degrees in chemical engineering from Texas A&M. While at A&M, he was in the Corps of Cadets, the Aggie Band and student government. He was named to Who's Who Among American Universities and received the Engineering Achievement Award. He also won four varsity track letters, won several conference championships and was a member of the 1948 national-champion mile relay team. After serving in the U.S Navy, he began his career as an engineer with Monsanto Chemical Co. in 1952, and after earning a law degree, transferred to Monsanto's patent department. In addition to service as county judge, he served on the Texas State Board of Education for a six-year term, the Board of Visitors for Texas A&M University at Galveston, the Gulf Coast Water Authority, and was a founding member of the Texas A&M Lettermen's Association. He is an Endowed Century Club donor to The Association of Former Students, has been active with the Galveston County A&M Club for more than 50 years and is a member of the Texas A&M Athletic Hall of Fame. He is an Eagle Scout and serves on the executive board of the Bay Area Boy Scouts. He has been a member of the Episcopal Church for over 70 years and is currently a member and serves on the vestry of St. Michael's Church in La Marque. Holbrook and his wife, Mary Ann, have been married for nearly 60 years and have three children.
Charles A. "Charlie" Mattei, Jr. '49, a veteran of the U.S. Army and chairman emeritus of United Business Corp., is the former chairman and CEO of Cit-Con Oil Co. and a former vice president of both Gulf Oil/Chevron and Citgo. He served as president of the Beaumont and Tulsa A&M clubs, Class of 1949 Agent, president of the 12th Man Foundation and the Sul Ross Group, and as a member of the Vision 2020 Task Force, President's Board of Advisors, and the Corps Development Council. He received a bachelor's in engineering from Texas A&M. Mattei was named Outstanding Aggie by the Houston A&M Club and has been inducted into the Corps of Cadets Hall of Honor. He and his wife, Bettie, are Endowed Century Club donors to The Association of Formers Students, and their generous gifts to the Texas A&M Foundation and the 12th Man Foundation have earned them recognition as Eppright Distinguished Donors and members of the Legacy Society. Their gifts to Texas A&M include a President's Endowed Scholarship, a 12th Man Endowed Scholarship and a Sul Ross Scholarship. In addition to his service to Texas A&M, Mattei also filled leadership roles with his local Rotary Club, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and his local United Way. Mattei, who passed away April 18, and Bettie are parents to four children and seven grandchildren.
Maj. Gen. Thomas G. "Tom" Darling '54, who logged more than 7,000 hours as an Air Force pilot and more than 500 B-52 combat hours in Vietnam, retired from active duty in 1987 and returned to Texas A&M as commandant of the Corps of Cadets, serving in that position until 1996. He then began a third career, as executive director of Corps development. Darling is credited with being the driving force behind the funding and building of the Sanders Corps of Cadets Visitors Center, and the Darling Recruiting Company within the Corps is named in his honor. He received the President's Achievement Medal from then Texas A&M President Ray Bowen and was named Commandant Emeritus by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents. Darling's distinguished military career included a tour as Commandant of the Armed Forces Staff College and he retired as Deputy Commander, U.S. Atlantic Command. Darling's many military decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster. He was a member of the freshman basketball team and received a bachelor's degree in agricultural education from Texas A&M, graduating as a Distinguished Air Force ROTC student. He is a loyal donor to The Association of Former Students through the Century Club, as well as to the 12th Man Foundation, Texas A&M Foundation and Corps of Cadets Association. He also supports the Military Officers of America. His service to Texas A&M and exemplary representation of the Corps of Cadets were recognized with his induction into the Corps of Cadets Hall of Honor. In addition, he has been an active volunteer and supporter of organizations in the Bryan-College Station community, including the Brazos County A&M Club, Habitat for Humanity, the Brazos Valley Symphony and his church. Darling has two children with his first wife, Evelyn, with whom he shared 52 years of marriage prior to her death. He resides today in College Station with his wife, Kathleen.
Charlie W. Seely, Jr. '55, a U.S. Army veteran, is an independent oil and gas producer, president of Seely Oil Co. and chairman of three companies that manufacture plastic products. One of his companies has been honored as part of the Aggie 100, which spotlights the fastest-growing Aggie-owned or Aggie-led companies. He is a Past Chair of The Association of Former Students Board of Directors, past president of the Fort Worth Tarrant County A&M Club, a former Class of 1955 Agent, former board member for the 12th Man Foundation, and serves on the President's Council of Advisors. He was a member of the Corps of Cadets, received a bachelor's degree in petroleum engineering from Texas A&M and was a Distinguished Military Graduate. He is an Endowed Century Club donor to The Association of Former Students and his many gifts to the 12th Man Foundation and Texas A&M Foundation have earned him recognition as an Eppright Distinguished Donor and member of the Legacy Society. He has given of his time and resources to organizations beyond Texas A&M, including tangible support provided to an orphanage in Russia. Seely has three children.
Monroe H. Fuchs '56, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, is chairman of the board of Ideal Poultry Breeding Farms, the family business he built into the nation's largest supplier of recreational poultry. He has influenced thousands of lives through his more than 25 years of Christian ministry to jail and prison inmates and their families. At Texas A&M, he was a Ross Volunteer, distinguished student, distinguished military graduate and received both bachelor's and master's degrees in poultry science. He also led both Alpha Zeta and the Poultry Science Club his senior year. Fuchs served on the City Council for the City of Cameron and established the Cameron Volunteer Ambulance Service. He was elected to the Yoe High School Hall of Honor and was presented with a Lifetime Service Award by the City of Cameron and the Cameron Chamber of Commerce for his dedicated service and generosity to his community. A long-time leader and supporter of the Milam County A&M Club, he was also honored as an Outstanding Alumnus of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in 2013. He is an Endowed Century Club donor to The Association of Former Students, and the generous gifts provided by his family to the 12th Man Foundation and Texas A&M Foundation have earned them recognition as Eppright Distinguished Donors and members of the Legacy Society. Included among their gifts are three endowed scholarships in poultry science. Fuchs is the father of four children and has nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Dr. Charles R. "Charlie" Wiseman '57 served the San Antonio area for 37 years at the Wiseman Animal Hospital before retiring to run his family's ranch. He is a former president of the 12th Man Foundation and the San Antonio A&M Club, and he was inducted into the Texas A&M Lettermen's Association Hall of Honor in 2003. He was a member of the Corps of Cadets and earned his doctorate in veterinary medicine from Texas A&M. He is a long-time Century Club donor to The Association of Former Students and he and his wife, Pat, have endowed a scholarship and a chair in the College of Veterinary Medicine and have funded a President's Endowed Scholarship in memory of their late daughter, Polly Wiseman Franklin '86. Their generous gifts to the 12th Man Foundation and Texas A&M Foundation have earned them recognition as Eppright Distinguished Donors and members of the Legacy Society. Wiseman has also been honored by the College of Veterinary Medicine as an Outstanding Alumnus. He is a member of the Bexar County Veterinary Medical Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association. In addition to Polly, Wiseman and his wife, Pat, are parents to one son.
William W. "Bill" Hanna '58, a veteran of the U.S. Army, is former president and chief operating officer of Koch Industries. He serves on the Texas A&M College of Engineering External Advisory and Development Council and served on the Nucleus Fund Committee for the Texas A&M University Campaign. At Texas A&M, he was a member of the Corps of Cadets and earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. Hanna has been honored as an Outstanding Alumnus of the Dwight Look College of Engineering and has endowed scholarships for engineering students. He is an Endowed Century Club donor to The Association of Former Students and his many gifts to the 12th Man Foundation and the Texas A&M Foundation have earned him recognition as an Eppright Distinguished Donor and member of the Legacy Society. In 2013, he received the Charles G. Berwind Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest honor bestowed by Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Hanna lost Janice, his wife and sweetheart of 51 years, in 2010. He has three sons and seven grandchildren and is a liftetime member of the United Methodist Church.
Dr. Sallie V. Sheppard '65 was one of the first women to graduate from Texas A&M, receiving both bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics from A&M. She worked at NASA on simulations of the on-board Apollo computer for the lunar landing expeditions. After receiving her Ph.D in computer science she returned to A&M rising through the ranks to professor of computer science and associate provost. She received two Distinguished Achievement Awards from The Association of Former Students, one in 1985 for teaching and one in 1998 for administration. In 1995 she was appointed interim executive vice president and provost, making her the first female top-ranking administrator at Texas A&M, a milestone she would also achieve at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. She and her husband, Leland Blank, have funded a President's Endowed Scholarship at Texas A&M. She is the recipient of an IEEE Third Millennium Award for Outstanding Achievements and Contributions. Sheppard and her husband have two daughters and three grandchildren.
Dr. Stephen A. Holditch '69 is a former head of the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering and former director of the Texas A&M Energy Institute. He also founded S.A. Holditch and Associates, which had a worldwide reputation for being able to solve the most difficult petroleum engineering problems. A member of the Corps of Cadets and Ross Volunteers, he received bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees from A&M, all in petroleum engineering. He and his wife, Ann, have funded multiple scholarships in petroleum engineering, as well as a Sul Ross Scholarship. They are Endowed Century Club donors to The Association of Former Students and their many gifts to the 12th Man Foundation and Texas A&M Foundation have earned them recognition as Eppright Distinguished Donors and members of the Legacy Society. Holditch has been honored as a member of the Petroleum Engineering Academy of Distinguished Graduates and as an Outstanding Alumnus of the Dwight Look College of Engineering. He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in 1995 and has been honored with most of the Society of Professional Engineers' top technical honors, including the Legends of Hydraulic Fracturing Award, which he received in 2014. He and Ann have been married 43 years and have two daughters, and five grandchildren.
James A. "Jim" Mayo, Jr. '70 enjoyed a successful career in banking and is the retired chairman/CEO of Alice Bancshares Inc. He is a Past Chair of The Association of Former Students Board of Directors and a past chair of the Texas A&M Foundation Board of Trustees. An active A&M Club volunteer, he has served as president of both the Laredo and Brush County A&M Clubs, and served on Texas A&M's Vision 2020 Task Force. He has funded two endowed scholarships, an opportunity award and is an Endowed Century Club donor to The Association of Former Students. His generosity to Texas A&M has earned him recognition as a member of the Legacy Society at the Texas A&M Foundation. Mayo received a bachelor's in management from Texas A&M. He has served on numerous bank boards, the board of directors for the Texas Bankers Association and many civic and philanthropic boards. He has three children.
Clarence Sasser '73, who served as an Army medic in Vietnam, was the eighth Aggie to be awarded the Medal of Honor. In 1968, while helping evacuate wounded soldiers under heavy enemy fire, he carried one to cover and returned to help carry others to safety, despite sustaining wounds in both his legs. Gen. Earl Rudder '32, then president of A&M, offered Sasser a scholarship to Texas A&M, where he studied chemistry. After receiving an honorable discharge from the Army, he worked briefly in an oil refinery, then established a lengthy career in service to veterans with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. A scholarship at the Texas A&M University Health Science Center has been established in his honor. He joins Texas A&M's Medal of Honor recipients from World War II who were named Distinguished Alumni in 2012.
Charles A. "Chuck" Ellison '76, a veteran of the U.S. Army's JAG Corps, is managing shareholder of the Ellison Firm in Brazos County. He was named the 2013 Texas Aggie Bar Association Aggie Lawyer of the Year, is Past Chair of The Association of Former Students Board of Directors and a founding trustee of the Texas A&M University System PAC. A company commander and Ross Volunteer, he received a bachelor's degree in finance from Texas A&M. He and his wife, Tedi, are Endowed Century Club donors to The Association of Former Students and have provided gifts to the 12th Man Foundation and the Texas A&M Foundation. Ellison served on the Vision 2020 Mid-Term Review Committee and has been an active volunteer in the Bryan/College Station community including the Chamber of Commerce, Hospice, United Way and the Boy Scouts of America. Ellison has two daughters and two grandchildren.