Sam Houston State University's Distinguished Alumni for 1996 have a service record that stretches from Texas to Thailand.

The honorees include Dr. Thomas Davis ('57), Dr. John H. Keller Jr. ('49), Lynne Liberato ('74), Judge W. Jeanne Meurer ('75) and Dr. Thaksin Shinawatra ('79).

The Distinguished Alumni Awards Reception and Dinner is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 25 in the Lowman Student Center.

Dr. Thomas Davis

Dr. Thomas Davis, professor of mathematics at SHSU, came to the university as an athlete, performed in an outstanding manner on the playing field, and has continued to do so in the classroom as a teacher for four decades.

Davis earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Sam Houston State, then his Ph.D. from the University of Texas.

"His athletic and academic honors are well known, but his concern for students and community service are equally impressive," wrote Dr. Elliott T. Bowers, SHSU president emeritus. "He has lived by the SHSU motto-'The Measure of a Life is Its Service.'"

Davis' service has been of a broad nature, including athletics, academics, and community.

He served as the university's faculty representative to the National Association of Intercollege Athletics and National Collegiate Athletic Associations, as a member of the Faculty Athletic Committee for 31 years and chairman for nine, and as president of the Southland Conference for two years.

He served as a member of the Faculty Senate for 12 years, including one year as president and one year as vice president. He was a member of the Student Service Fee Allocations Committee for 13 years, and on the University Standing Tenure Committee for eight years, as well as numerous other committee assignments.

Within the mathematics department he has served as a student advisor for 31 years, as major program and curriculum coordinator for 21 years, and as a graduate advisor for 10 years.

Community activities have included the YMCA, the Democratic Party, the State Bar of Texas Lawyer Grievance Committee, and the Walker County Employees Grievance Committee, and many others. He is a member of the First United Methodist Church and the church's Chancel Choir.

He is married to Patty Sue Davis, and they have two daughters.

Dr. John H. Keller Jr.

Dr. John H. Keller Jr., a family practice physician in Fairfield, has served as chief of staff of the Fairfield Memorial Hospital for the past 20 years.

"During the past 41 years Keller has been the 'family' doctor for most of the citizens of Fairfield as well as citizens of the surrounding areas," wrote County Judge Joel E. Lane of Freestone County. "He has served capably, willingly, untiringly, and faithfully to all individuals who needed his care."

Keller graduated from Centerville High School, SHSU as a pre-medical student, from Southwestern Medical School, and served his internship at the Jeff Davis and Veterans Administration hospitals in Houston.

A veteran of the U.S. Army (1946-'47), Keller is a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians and has been a member of the American Board of Family Physicians for 38 years.

Other professional memberships include the Freestone County, Texas, and American Medical Associations as well as the Texas and American Academy of Family Practitioners. He is a director of the Fairfield Memorial Hospital Board.

Community activities include membership in the First United Methodist Church of Fairfield and serving on its building committee. He was also instrumental in establishing a hospital tax district in Freestone County, and fought to prevent the closing of Fairfield Memorial Hospital.

His volunteer efforts have extended internationally as well, having assisted in the establishment of a clinic in Haiti in conjunction with the First United Methodist Church of Fairfield.

He is especially proud and supportive of Sam Houston State, recommending to numerous area students that they consider attending SHSU, and initiating and contributing to several alumni and university special projects.

He and his wife, Margaret Elizabeth Strange Keller, have two children and three grandchildren.

Lynne Liberato

Lynne Liberato, a partner in the Houston law firm of Haynes and Boone, L.L.P., entered the legal profession as chief staff attorney for the First Court of Appeals 15 years ago and has compiled a remarkable record of professional and civic service.

"She is amazingly active and accomplished," said Raymond Greer, a 1977 graduate who also practices law in the Houston area.

She is a pioneer as well, having served as the Houston Bar Association's first female president, in 1993-'94. She went on to the State Bar of Texas, as director (1994-'97), member of the executive committee (1994-'96), and board chair (1996-'97).

She also chairs the state bar's Client Security Fund Committee and serves as a member of the Advisory Committee on the Legal Services Corporation, the Administrative Oversight Committee, and the General Counsel Oversight Committee. She also serves as a member of the Civil Justice Reform Act Advisory Group for the United States District Court of the Southern District of Texas.

Her civic activities are similarly impressive, including service as director of the United Way of Texas Gulf Coast (1996-'99), chair of the United Way's Implementation Redesign Committee (1996-'97), and chair of that organization's Fund Distribution Redesign Advisory Committee (1994-'95).

She was also a recent member of the Olympic Torch Relay Judging Committee.

Her awards and honors have been many, including being named by The Houston Post as a Top 1992 Female Leader, being named a Woman of Excellence by the Federation of Houston Professional Women (1994), being named YWCA Woman of the Year (1993), and receiving the Houston Bar Association's President's Award in 1990.

After earning her bachelor's degree in journalism at SHSU and her master's at East Texas State, she earned her law degree from the South Texas College of Law, which named her a Distinguished Alumna in 1992.

W. Jeanne Meurer

W. Jeanne Meurer, district judge of the 98th District Court in Austin, is one of the best, according to a survey of Travis County lawyers. She is known for her toughness with parents who don't live up to their parental responsibilities as well as with juveniles who get in trouble.

"Juvenile crime has frightened the public," wrote Pamela Ward in a front page feature article on Meurer in the Austin American-Statesman. "It's a hot issue in the Legislature, a top priority of the governor's. Some think the situation is hopeless. In Muerer's courtroom, the judge wages battle on our social frailties and failures - child by child."

Muerer was planning to be a teacher, and spent five years in a Catholic convent. She took a leave of absence to study criminology at SHSU, earned her bachelor's degree and went on to the University of Texas for her law degree.

She has continued her studies, attending numerous educational programs on family law and children's issues. She is active in professional organizations in Texas and in the Austin area and has participated in many educational programs such as speeches and seminars on behalf of the state bar and other groups and the University of Texas.

Sixteen years ago Muerer became a single parent when she adopted a baby boy.

"I want people to know I can identify, that I care," she explained. "I think being a parent is the hardest job in the world. It's a scary, hard job, but it's a wonderful job."

Presiding District Judge Pete Lowry said that beneath Meurer's stern attitude, "she's a real sensitive, caring person."

Meurer volunteered to handle child abuse and juvenile court cases, he said. "It's not something people want to do."

"She personifies the best in Bearkat traditions and values," said Bob Gammage, justice of the Supreme Court of Texas and a SHSU distinguished alumnus inducted in 1990. "She does so through the way she lives her personal life, through her professional performance, and through her dedicated and selfless public service to the administration of justice, children, and the community."

Dr. Thaksin Shinawatra

Dr. Thaksin Shinawatra, deputy prime minister of Thailand, works for all of the people of his country, but a special interest is children who live in its remote areas. He has also held the position of minister of foreign affairs, and is the Phalang Dhama Party leader.

In addition, he has earned recognition from business leaders in Thailand and abroad, and received several awards. His Shinawatra Group is now pioneering a satellite education program for children in remote areas who in the past have been unable to continue their education through secondary schooling.

"His accomplishments in the business world are of such magnitude that they command the attention not just of countries, but of a region of the world," wrote Dr. Rolando V. del Carmen, distinguished professor of criminal justice. "He is one of the most widely known persons in the whole of Thailand, partly because of the distinction of having obtained a Ph.D. at Sam Houston, a degree valued highly in Asian countries. He is expected to assume the highest elective position there one day - that of being prime minister."

Shinawatra began his professional career in criminal justice, graduating from the Police Cadet Academy in Thailand in 1973. He then received a government scholarship to study in the United States, earning a master's degree in criminal justice from Eastern Kentucky University in 1974 and a doctorate in that field from SHSU in 1979.

He started his working career in the Royal Thai Police Department in 1973, was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1984, and was in charge of planning and improving computer systems in the Police Computer Department. This was the starting point for Thailand police agencies to adopt new computer technologies.

In 1987 he left government service, and in two years expanded the Shinawatra Group to cover telecommunication and broadcasting systems. His company was granted a concession by the Royal Thai government to operate the first communication satellite for Thailand, and the satellite service business is now becoming operational.

He is married to Khun Potjaman Damapong, whom he credits with important contributions to his business and professional achievements. They have a son and two daughters.


Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak

Oct. 1, 1996