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Hardin-Simmons University’s Iconic Leaders to be Venerated

Hardin-Simmons University’s Iconic Leaders to be Venerated

By Janlyn Thaxton

 

 

 

Hardin-Simmons University will induct five people into the Hall of Leaders, Friday, April 12, 2013, during a 12:00 p.m. luncheon in the Johnson Building Multipurpose Room on the HSU campus. The HSU Hall of Leaders was established in 2001, with the vision of HSU president, Dr. Lanny Hall, providing permanent recognition of graduates, former students, former employees, and other university leaders who have distinguished records of achievement and have proven themselves as men and women of good character. A special university committee considers nominees each year and makes the selections. “Each of the recipients has had distinguished careers and has truly brought honor to Hardin-Simmons,” says Hall. “This year we are pleased to recognize two individuals who will be present for the honor and three whom we will honor posthumously.” {{more}} In 1993 HSU created a unique multi-disciplinary academic program to allow students to learn more about leadership as a declared academic minor. “A few years after starting the program, the University established the Hall of Leaders recognition as a way to honor exemplary leaders with HSU ties and remind students that leadership development is important during their university years and throughout their lives,” says Hall. Recipients’ plaques are on display in the Elwin L. Skiles Social Science Building on the first-floor circular corridor. Doyle and Inez Kelley of Houston generously provided the initial funding to establish the Hall of Leaders. The 2013 Recipients are: Dan Blocker, Ex. 1946, TV and Film Actor Ann Coody, B.A. 1959, Legislator and Educator Shirley O’Dell, B.A. 1953, Educator/Church Leader James M. Parker, B.B.A. 1951, Businessman and Rancher C. V. Wood Jr., Ex. 1939, Developer and Engineer Commodore Vanderbilt Wood Jr. Ex. 1939 Commodore Vanderbilt Wood Jr. was born December 17, 1920, in Waynoka, Oklahoma, the only child of C. V. Sr. and Eva Beaman Wood. When C. V. was two years old, his family moved back to his father’s home state of Texas, settling in Amarillo where his father became a railroad conductor. Upon graduation from Amarillo High School in 1937, C. V. won a scholarship to Hardin-Simmons University as a champion trick roper in the Cowboy Band. C. V.’s time at Hardin-Simmons was memorable, if not infamous. He has been remembered as “probably the most mischievous student ever to enroll on the Forty Acres.” Dr. Collins, then dean of students, described C. V. as a student “whose brain never enjoyed an idle moment.” C. V. reveals his love for HSU in a letter to Dr. Rupert Richardson regarding fond memories of his student days. In the letter, he thanked Dr. Richardson for kindly advising him during a difficult time. C. V. took Dr. Richardson’s advice to heart, turned his energies toward study, and transferred to the University of Oklahoma, where he later received a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering. In 1948 C. V. was chief industrial engineer with Convair Corporation, and in 1950, became director of Southern California activities for the Stanford Research Institute, supervising techno-economic projects for industry and the federal government. Walt Disney hired C. V. in 1953 as vice president and general manager for Disneyland, Inc. As Disneyland’s first employee, C. V. supervised selection and purchase of the land for the theme park. He was in charge of planning, financing, and construction of Disneyland, and he directed its first year of operation. After leaving Disneyland, Wood formed his own company, Marco Engineering. Among the company’s projects was the development of Six Flags Over Texas and Freedomland in New York. In 1961, C. V. merged Marco Engineering with McCulloch Corporation, an oil and gas exploration, geothermal energy, gas transmission, and land development company. There he worked on urban developments, including the creation of Lake Havasu City, Arizona, with the acquisition and installation of London Bridge. The purchase received worldwide recognition in 1968. Under C. V.’s supervision, the bridge was dismantled stone by stone, shipped to Lake Havasu City, and reassembled. C. V. retired from McCulloch Corporation, which purchased the bridge, in 1980 as chairman and chief executive officer. In 1987, C. V. became assistant to the Lorimar Telepictures chairman and helped merge that company with Time Warner. After the merger, he was retained by Warner Brothers to pioneer its entry into the studio tour attraction business. He planned, built, and in 1990, opened the company’s first attraction, Warner Brothers Movie World, on the Gold Coast of Australia. With race car designer Carroll Shelby, C. V. co-founded the World Championship Chili Cook-off, a society that contributed more than $10 million to the Kidney Foundation and the Boy Scouts. C. V. was a founder of the Mind Science Foundation, a charitable, scientific and educational institution chartered in 1958 to coordinate, support, and extend the study of the human mind. He served as secretary of the foundation as well as a member of both the board of directors and board of trustees. He was a member of the Board of Governors of the American Stock Exchange, and served as vice chairman of the Exchange’s Advisory Committee. C. V. Wood stands as a shining example that with encouragement and direction, even the most mischievous students can succeed. C. V. was president of Warner Brothers Recreational Entertainment Division at the time of his death at the age of 71 in 1992. James Magee Parker B.B.A. 1951 James Magee Parker was born April 30, 1930, in Roby, Texas, the second child to C. A. and Euna Magee Parker. The family moved to Littlefield, Texas, when James was eight years old and then to Sweetwater, Texas, in 1940. James began a career in the grocery business at the age of 11, when his mother encouraged him to go to work at a Sweetwater grocery store owned by Sam Glass. He graduated from Sweetwater Newman High School in 1947 and enrolled that fall at Hardin-Simmons University. While a student at HSU, James served as Student Council treasurer his senior year, was a member of the B.A. Club and the Rodeo Association, served as vice president of Ferguson Hall Council, and was vice president of the Sweetwater Club. He graduated from HSU in 1951 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. James met his future wife, Cynthia Ann Pearson of Lamesa, his senior year on the HSU campus. They were married August 4, 1951. The young couple moved back to Sweetwater where James restarted his career in the grocery business, working for Glass again. Their four children, Jimmy, Terri, Carla, and Paige, were born during this time in Sweetwater when James was moving up in his career. In 1953, he was named general manager of the Thrifty Store in Sweetwater, and in 1957, he became business partners with Glass, investing in Sunbeam Enterprises and Sam Glass Enterprises, doing business as Super Duper Food Stores, Inc. The grocery store chain flourished and included 21 stores across the state at his height, using innovative and visionary marketing with service as a core value. After the death of Glass in 1974, James became president of the company, and in 1984, he sold the Super Duper stores to Furr Foods. James then diversified his business into real estate and investments and continued his involvement in ranching and in civic affairs. Committed to a better life for Abilenians, James served on the First National Bank of Abilene Board of Directors from 1972 to 2004 and was the First Financial Bankshares Holding Company director from 1980 to 2004. He served on the Hendrick Medical Center Foundation and as chairman of the Hendrick Medical Center Development Corporation. He was also the president of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce, and served on the Abilene Civic Center Advisory Board from 1975 to 1980, West Texas Utilities from 1987 to 2000, and West Texas Rehab Center from 1991 to 1998. He served on the board of the Abilene Community Foundation in 1990. Lauded for his service and philanthropy, James received the Dyess Air Force Base Brave Shield Award in 1978, and he was the first recipient of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce Small Business Award in 1985. In 2005, James received from HSU the Keeter Alumni Service Award, the highest alumni honor Hardin-Simmons can bestow. James has served his alma mater on the HSU Board of Development, the School of Music Foundation, and on the Board of Trustees. As a leader on the HSU Board of Trustees, for several years he served as chairman of the Budget and Audit Committee and on the Executive Committee. James and Cynthia created the Parker Endowed Scholarship for missionary students at HSU, and after the passing of Cynthia in 2002, James established the Cynthia Ann Parker College of Liberal Arts. James continued the legacy of his and Cynthia’s support of Hendrick Health Systems with a gift that was recognized by the naming of the James and Cynthia Parker Wing. James serves as deacon at First Baptist Church of Abilene, where he and Cynthia became members in 1959. James lives in Abilene, and in addition to his four children, has 11 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren. Shirley Ann O’Dell B.A. 1953 Shirley Ann O’Dell was born on February 22, 1931, in Douglas, Arizona, to Ellis and Ruth Narmour. She spent most of her childhood in Deming, New Mexico, where her father was a Gulf oil distributor. She graduated from Deming High School in 1949. Following high school graduation, she enrolled at Hardin-Simmons University, graduating in 1953 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a minor in Spanish. While a student at HSU, Shirley was a member of the Cowgirl Band from 1950 to 1953, serving as Social Chairman in 1952 and as president in 1953. She was on the Mary Frances Hall Council in 1951 and 1952, was a cheerleader in 1952, and head cheerleader in 1953. Also in 1953, she was a member of the Cowgirls, was a University Queen Nominee and Runner-up, served on Inter-Club Council, and was the first Hardin-Simmons University Homecoming Sweetheart. She was named to Who’s Who in American Colleges, served on the Leader Publication, and was a member of Sigma Delta Pi. After graduation, Shirley returned to Deming, where in 1954, she married Melvin O’Dell. Shirley taught middle school English and Spanish in Wilcox, Arizona, while completing her master’s degree at New Mexico Western University. Shirley loved southwest history and art, and wrote her thesis on the outlaws of the southwest. In 1969, Shirley and Melvin moved to Flagstaff, Arizona, where Shirley continued to teach and was the first Baptist Student Union director at Northern Arizona University. She was active in the First Southern Baptist Church in Flagstaff. In 1985 Shirley and Melvin moved to Tucson, Arizona, where she lived the rest of her life. A leader and devoted member of her church, Shirley was a board member of the Arizona State Mission Board and the Home Mission Board. She has been honored by the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention for her work. Shirley served as secretary for the Flagstaff Summer Festival Board of Directors for several years, and as State Women’s Missionary Union director, she participated in mission trips to China, Mexico, and Chile. Dedicated to her alma mater, Shirley hosted HSU alumni meetings in her home, and furthered the cause of Hardin-Simmons University by recommending HSU to students in her church. She also served on the HSU Board of Development from 1997 to 2002. An active member of the Board of Development, she and Mel made many trips from Tucson to Abilene to attend Board meetings and participate in HSU Homecomings. Shirley was exemplary in her service to her alma mater, as well as in financial support for it. Shirley was a member of the John G. Hardin Society and the HSU School of Music Foundation. Shirley was known for her sweet and loving spirit, out-going and witty nature, and her love for and devotion to her husband. She and Mel celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary in 2010. Shirley succumbed to the effects of Alzheimer’s on February 26, 2011. Ann Margaret Coody B.A. 1959 Ann Margaret Coody was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, on December 12, 1937. Her father’s United States Air Force career took the family to New Braunfels and San Antonio, Texas, where she graduated from Alamo Heights High School in 1955. After graduation, she enrolled in Hardin-Simmons University, but went with her family following her freshman year to Tachikawa Air Force Base, near Tokyo, Japan. After a year there, she returned to Hardin-Simmons, where she graduated in August 1959 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in speech with a minor in English. As a student at Hardin-Simmons, Ann was a member of the Baptist Student Union Greater Council, the Life Service Band, Pi Kappa Delta, and served as Student Education Assistant. She was a member of the Speech and Drama Club and was vice president of the University Players her senior year. During the summer of 1958, she was a summer missionary in Hilo, Hawaii. Ann also served on the South Hall Dorm Council as secretary in 1958 and as junior representative in 1959, and was named to Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities that same year. On August 8, 1959, Ann married Dale Coody, who earned the Bachelor of Science degree from HSU in 1959. Ann served with Dale as he led Southern Baptist churches in Texas, Oklahoma, and Hawaii, as music and education director. They have also served as evangelistic singers in revivals and concerts in Texas, Oklahoma, Hawaii, and throughout the mid-west and southern states. In 1960, Ann and Dale welcomed their son Jeff, and in 1962, their daughter Nina was born. Ann began her career in education in 1961, teaching in Seagraves, Refugio, and Woodsboro, Texas, before the young family moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she taught at Berryhill School. They later moved to Lawton, Oklahoma, where Ann was a teacher, counselor, and assistant principal for the Lawton Public Schools. While in Lawton, Ann earned a Master of Education degree in guidance counseling and a principal and superintendent certification from the University of Oklahoma. Ann retired as principal of Lawton MacArthur High School in June 2000, after 39 years as an educator. Elected to her first term in 2004, Ann is now beginning her fifth term in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from District 64, Lawton, Oklahoma. She is chair of the Common Education Committee and a member of the Appropriations and Budget Committee, the Appropriations and Budget Education Subcommittee, and the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee. She was appointed by the Speaker of the House as a commissioner to the Education Commission of the States, as a member of the Education Oversight Board, the Achieving Classroom Excellence Steering Committee, and the Oklahoma State Council for Educational Opportunity for Military Children. Ann served as majority caucus secretary in 2007-2008, is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council, and serves various national legislative groups. Among Ann’s many honors, she was named Representative of the Year by the Oklahoma Veterans Council in 2007-2008 and again in 2012. She received the Veteran’s Hero Award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars in 2008 and the 2009 Distinguished Service Award from the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education. The Oklahoma Council of Economic Education awarded her the Friend of Economic Education Award in 2008, and in 2009, she was awarded the Oklahoma Farm Bureau Meritorious Service Award, and the Southwest Oklahoma Partnership for Mental Health Award. In 2011, she received the Americans United for Life Award. Ann further serves the community as a member of the Comanche County Retired Educators Association and the Oklahoma Retired Educators Association. Ann and Dale are members of First Baptist Church of Grandfield, Oklahoma, and live on a farm east of Lawton, where Dale is also a rancher, having raised dairy cattle, beef cattle, ostriches, giraffes, antelope, alligators, and other exotic animals. He currently raises Savanna goats. Their daughter, Nina, who attended Hardin-Simmons from 1980 to 1982, is an intermediate school principal in Boyd, Texas. Their son, Jeff, who completed the Bachelor of Business Administration degree at HSU in 1982, is an insurance agent in Lawton and former U.S. Navy pilot. Ann and Dale have three grandchildren. Bobby Dan Davis Blocker Ex. 1946 Bobby Dan Davis Blocker was born December 10, 1928, in DeKalb, Texas, to Ora “Shack” and Mary E. Davis Blocker. Weighing 14 pounds at birth, Dan has been heralded as the largest baby ever born in Bowie County. He grew to be a large man, standing six feet, four inches and weighing close to 300 pounds. His physical size was significant; however, his kind, gentle spirit, and his fun-loving nature is what is most memorable about him. With his farm suffering the devastation of the Great Depression, “Shack” moved his family to O’Donnell, Texas, in 1934 and opened a grocery store. Here, Dan attended school, worked in the family store, and enjoyed laughter, jokes, and pranks. It is said his jokes and pranks were never at the expense of another, and that he was full of fun and gaiety, but could settle down and get right to business when necessary. After completing his freshman year at O’Donnell High School, Dan enrolled at the Texas Military Institute in San Antonio, Texas, where he completed high school. Dan attended Hardin-Simmons University in 1946 where he was a tackle on the football team. He then transferred to Sul Ross University in Alpine, Texas, where he became interested in acting after participating in a production of Arsenic and Old Lace, for which he was recruited because of his ability to carry the heavy “dead” bodies. Finding he enjoyed this experience, Dan changed his major from physical education to drama. After graduating from Sul Ross with a Bachelor of Arts degree in speech and drama, he refused offers of professional careers in both football and boxing to act in summer stock in Boston. While in Boston, he was drafted for combat duty in Korea, where he served as an infantry sergeant with the 45th Division. After his military service ended in 1952, Dan returned to Sul Ross and completed a Master of Arts degree in dramatic arts. He married his college sweetheart, Dolphia Lee Parker, on August 25, 1952. They had four children: twin daughters, Danna and Debra, and sons, David and Dirk. Dan taught high school English and drama in Sonora, Texas, for a year, then was a sixth grade teacher and coach at Eddy Elementary School in Carlsbad, New Mexico. He moved his family to California in 1956 and began work on a Ph.D. degree at the University of California at Los Angeles. During this time, he also worked as a substitute teacher at Glendale and began his career as a professional actor in Los Angeles. From 1957 to 1959, Dan appeared in numerous TV roles, including Gunsmoke, Colt 45, Cimarron City, Sheriff of Cochise, and Wagon Train. He also performed in a Three Stooges short, Outer Space Jitters. In 1959, Dan was cast in the role that would define him the remainder of his life. As the beloved, somewhat simple-minded, middle brother, prankster Hoss Cartwright on the NBC network television production, Bonanza, Dan won the hearts of viewers for 13 seasons. In addition to being a popular actor, Dan was a successful businessman. He was co-owner of Bonanza, a nationwide chain of steak houses. He received the Texan of the Year Award in 1963 from the Texas Press Association, and in 1966, he served as honorary chairman of the Texas Cancer Crusade. Dan quietly helped others, and never turned away a friend in need. He only asked those he helped one favor, “Please don’t tell anyone that I am involved.” After his death, it was revealed that he was the anonymous founder of the Guyot Foundation Home for Girls in Los Angeles. Dan died on May 13, 1972, after a blood clot developed following gall bladder surgery, causing a massive pulmonary embolism. He was quietly buried in a small cemetery in DeKalb, Texas, beside his father. The storefront of the old family grocery remains in O’Donnell, and the town has memorialized Dan in a section of their county museum. In a park across from the museum, a bust of Dan was installed in 1973 with a plaque that reads, “Thanks to film, Hoss Cartwright will live; but all too seldom does the world get to keep a Dan Blocker.”

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