Two facts stand out concerning the five 1997 inductees for Sam Houston State University's Distinguished Alumni Award. They have been exemplary in their support of Sam Houston State University, but no less tireless in their work on behalf of other causes and communities as well. This year's honorees and the years in which they earned Sam Houston State degrees are James E. Gilmore (1949 and '57), Frank P. Leathers (1949 and '51), Ronald P. Mafrige (1960), John C. Martin (1968) and Gary L. Whitlock (1972)

GILMORE, who lives in Huntsville and is retiring this summer as vice president for academic affairs at Sam Houston State, also earned a doctorate in 1968 from the University of Houston. His SHSU affiliation has included 41 years as a faculty member and dean in the College of Business Administration, prior to being named to his present position.

Gilmore's other service interests have included the Texas Business Educator Association and the Huntsville Rotary Club, both of which he has served as president, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, which he has served as a member of accrediting teams, and many others.

An example of the esteem in which Gilmore is held by colleagues and former students is the endowment established in his honor by the College of Business Administration. The Board of Regents of the Texas State University System passed a resolution honoring Gilmore, and faculty and students in the College of Business Administration named its new honor society the Dr. James Gilmore Beta Gamma Sigma Chapter.

Gilmore is also credited with providing the leadership which led to COBA's recent accreditation by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business. He has chaired several university-wide committees, including a presidential search committee in 1988, the inauguration committee for President Martin Anisman, and the President's Committee for Bicentennial Programs for the 1992 observance of General Sam Houston's 200th birthday.

Gilmore and his wife, Dorothy Jo, have two children and two grandchildren. She is also an SHSU graduate, earning degrees in 1952 and 1958.

LEATHERS also lives in Huntsville, although he spends much of his time at his Leon County ranch. He retired as vice president for facilities and operations at Sam Houston State in 1987. He was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received in the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas, worked in industry, and was a teacher and administrator for 37 years in Texas public schools before coming to SHSU in 1969.

In addition to supervising the expenditure of approximately $50 million in construction and land purchases for SHSU, Leathers organized and served as president of the Stephen F. Austin Area School Study Council, and has been a leader in the United Methodist Texas Conference and First Methodist Church of Huntsville. He has served as a Jurisdictional Conference Delegate and as a member of the National Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Other memberships include the Texas Association of School Administrators, Texas State Teachers Association, and Texas Association of Senior College Business Officials, an organization which he served as president in 1976.

Leathers' many honors and awards include selection to Who's Who in American Education, Texas Educator of the Month, Outstanding Young Man of the South, Lufkin Booster of the Month, Honorary Life Membership by the Texas Congress of Parents and Teachers, membership in the Phi Delta Kappa educational fraternity, and receipt of honorary Chapter Farmer Degrees by FFA chapters in Alvin and Lufkin.

During his 18 years at SHSU he supervised the planning and construction of nine major buildings and the renovation and demolition of several others. His special pride is the Johnson Coliseum. Early in his work at SHSU he gave leadership to developing more reliable air conditioning and fresh water supply systems and placing electrical lines underground.

Leathers and his wife, Lyndall, have three children and three grandchildren. She earned her master's degree from SHSU in 1953.

MAFRIGE lives in Houston, and is president of Ron Mafrige Enterprises, Inc. Despite his many business interests, he has been especially generous in time and monetary support to the College of Business Administration, which recently named an auditorium in his honor, and to the SHSU football program.

In addition to creating the Touchdown '96 football fund-raising campaign, serving on the College of Business Administration and Alumni Association advisory boards, and establishing a $1 million endowment for COBA in the name of Glenn Adams from the Ron Mafrige family, he has found time for other causes such as the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

He worked as past captain and current vice chairman of the Program Committee and is a member of the International Committee of the Livestock Show and Rodeo, was a Houston Host Ambassador for the 1992 Republican National Convention, and has established a scholarship endowment at San Marcos Baptist Academy, where he has also been named a distinguished alumnus.

Memberships include the Chapelwood United Methodist Church, the Mystic Shrine Arabia Temple of Houston, the Epsilon Zeta Chapter of Delta Tau Delta, the Houston Association of Realtors, the U. S. Army Retired Reserves (with rank of major), Fellowship Club of Houston (past president), Houston Affiliates of the Southern Federation of Syrian, Lebanese American Clubs (president and treasurer), President's Club of San Marcos Baptist Academy, and the Pine Forest and Sugar Creek country clubs.

Mafrige and his wife, Linda, have one son.

MARTIN lives in Conroe, where he is an attorney with the Gilbert and Enis law firm in the Woodlands. He is a retired senior district judge in Montgomery County's 2nd and 9th District Courts. He attended Texas A&M University on a football scholarship before transferring to SHSU to study political science. He earned his J. D. degree in 1972 from the South Texas College of Law.

As a senior district judge, Martin presided over hundreds of high profile criminal and civil jury trials, and thousands of non-jury trials and hearings. He pioneered Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in Montgomery County and presided over the first district court to impose mediation in all civil cases. One of his legacies, however, according to those who nominated him for the award, is his impact on the youth of the communities in which he has worked.

"The impact of his positive actions will affect our communities forever," wrote one. "'Finish your education' is one of his frequent statements to these kids and then that famous laugh is heard, and he says, 'You never finish learning.'"

Martin's SHSU and community activities have included service on the SHSU presidential search committee in 1995 and as board member and president of the SHSU Alumni Association advisory board, establishment of a scholarship in political science, and status as a lifetime vice president of the Montgomery County Fair Association.

Martin has three children and six grandchildren.

WHITLOCK lives in Midland, Michigan, where he is Global Cost and Functional Controller for the Dow Chemical Company. He is known for his recruitment of numerous SHSU graduates for employment at Dow Chemical and for his mentoring support during their careers.

Whitlock's personal career has been impressive, working first in Dow's Texas Operations, transferring in 1981 to Dow's global headquarters Michigan, transferring in 1984 to Dow Europe and serving as the controller for Dow in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and returning to the U. S. in 1989. In 1992 he was named Controller and Information Systems Manager for Continental Operations, in 1993 he was named North American Controller for Dow and a member of the North American Operating Board, and in 1995 a vice president for Dow North America. He was named to his present position in 1996.

Whitlock has served as a College of Business Administration advisory board member, established the W. O. "Bud" Whitlock Endowment, served as a member of the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business review team, and has numerous community activities including serving as treasurer for the board of directors of the Midland, Mich., Community Cancer Service.

Whitlock and his wife, Pamela, have two children. She earned her bachelor of arts in teaching degree from SHSU in 1972.

The Distinguished Alumni Award induction ceremony is scheduled for the Lowman Student Center at SHSU on Oct. 17. A reception begins at 6:30 p.m., with the dinner and awards ceremony at 7:30 p.m.

"This year's recipients have so many honors and accomplishments that it is impossible to list them all in the Legacy," said Kathy L. Bowman, director of the SHSU Office of Alumni Relations. "We will have a better opportunity to give them the credit and honor that they so rightly deserve during the 1997 Homecoming activities and at the induction banquet."


Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak

Aug. 29, 1997