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Eight Awarded For University, Community Service

Eight individuals, including alumni, university friends and professors, who have exemplified Sam Houston State University’s motto, “A Measure Of A Life Is Its Service,” have been chosen to receive the 2003 SHSU Alumni Association Service Awards.

Henry D. Adair, J.J. Head, Jack Heard Jr., Ronald P. Mafrige, James S. Olson, Danny Pierce, Patricia A. Williams and Nancy Perkins Wilson will be honored at a luncheon on April 29, at 12 p.m. in the Lowman Student Center Ballroom for their commitment to the university.

Tickets for the event are $18 for Alumni Association members and $22 for non-members. Reservations can be made though April 22 by contacting Chrissy Price by phone at 936.294.4123 or by e-mail at


Henry D. Adair

Henry D. Adair

“Growing up, Henry dreamed of playing football for the Sam Houston Bearkats. After a successful football career at Robert E. Lee High School in Baytown, he was offered a few junior college football scholarships, but he wanted to be a Bearkat.

“With no offer from Sam, no transportation and very little money, Henry hitchhiked to Huntsville, ‘walked on’ the football team, earned a scholarship, and the rest is history,” said one nomination letter for Henry D. Adair, a 1963 graduate of Sam Houston State Teachers College with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education.

After receiving his degree, Adair began working for Arco Chemical for 13 years and since has served as vice president of NGL marketing for United Petroleum Distributors, executive vice president of Liberty Terminals and Trading, Inc., president of Adair Energy, Inc., government and public relations specialist for PACIFICORP/TCP, and an independent consultant for five years.

Currently, the Mont Belvieu resident is affiliated with Falcon Gas Storage.

Within Sam Houston, he has served as president of the Alumni Association and the Lettermen’s Association and currently serves on the board of directors for the Kat Pack, a support organization for the SHSU football team.

“You will find him in Huntsville each year during the Homecoming weekend attending the Distinguished Alumni Dinner on Friday, the Lettermen’s Association Hall of Honor Luncheon and the football game on Saturday,” the letter continued. “From those early college days to the present, Henry has been a true Bearkat.”

Outside his university endeavors, he is a member of the Citizens Advisory Board to Area Plant Managers in Baytown. He has been married for one and a half years to Cynthia Nicolini, and the couple has four daughters “between the two of us.”

“Henry has the character and demeanor that has always brought positive feelings to the university,” another nomination letter said. “He leads by example and is loved by all those who know him.”

“J.J” Head

J.J. Head

A descendant of pioneer Texans of Walker County, J.J. Head is a 1955 graduate of Sam Houston State Teachers College with a Bachelor of Science degree in physical education. He also received his Master of Education degree in 1956.

The Huntsville-native coached junior high and high school, as well as served as principal, within the Huntsville Independent School District for a combined 22 years. He is currently the owner of Didlake Subdivision and Ranching.

Even after retirement, Head devoted much of his time to youth, working with the Walker County Fair Association to organize and promote a youth rodeo association, establishing a scholarship for SHSU rodeo participation and a scholarship for students who will attend SHSU through his church.

“In every situation, he rendered exemplary and successful service working with young people, striving to assist them in academic, athletic, vocational and personal activities, trying always to guide them in self-realization, self-discipline, and worthwhile endeavors,” one nomination letter said.

In addition to his work with the SHSU rodeo team, he is a lifetime member of the Alumni Association.

“You will find throughout J.J. Head’s adult life, he has served his country, the youth of his community, his church and SHSU,” another nomination letter said. “When he was not teaching in the classroom or coaching on the playing field, he was still teaching by example in giving to others and being a role model for both youth and adults alike.”

Within the community, the U.S. Air Force veteran has served on numerous boards, including the Good Shepherd Mission, United Way Fund, American Heart Association, HEARTS Veteran Museum, Veteran Land Board and served as co-chairman of the development committee of the Huntsville Education Foundation Board, among many others.

“J.J. is proud to be a graduate of Sam Houston State University and is interested in the success and image of the university,” another nomination letter said. “He is always anxious to assist in worthy causes associated with the university and community. He truly is a man who practices service above self.”

Jack Heard, Jr.

Jack Heard, Jr.

A longtime friend of the university, attending in 1967, Jack Heard, Jr., is a man who has shown “love, loyalty and dedication to Sam Houston State University.”

Currently the chief executive officer of Superior Protection, Inc., a privately held homeland security provider and one of the largest providers, Heard was a Houston police officer for seven years.

Within SHSU, he is a member of the T Club, on the board of directors for the Kat Pack and is a member of the President’s Circle.

“Jack has helped the university in many, many ways, not to mention assisting Dr. Jim Gaertner in his In-Circle position,” his nomination letter said. “Jack has also been active in other parts of the university and has shared greatly with the university as owner of one of the largest security companies in the United States.

“On many occasions, Jack has come to the aid of the Kat Pack program when Coach Randleman was in need of video equipment, helmets, sideline headsets and communications, and many other items needed by the football team,” the letter continued. “His generosity is well-known by those who know Jack Heard.”

Outside of university endeavors, Heard has been the chairman of the Tracy Lawrence Golf Tournament, which benefits cystic fibrosis, for six years, helping raise over $1 million for the cause and has also served as chairman for the Crystal Foundation Golf Tournament, which benefits youth of Mexico and Nicaragua.

In addition, he has been a life member of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for over 30 years, serving as vice president for 2004-2006; was recipient of the state “Volunteer of the Year” and “Philanthropist of the Year” awards in 2002 by the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation; and helped raise the funding to build the “Patrick Heard Park” on the grounds of the Brenham State School, where he is a member of the board of directors for the volunteer service council.

Ronald P. Mafrige

Ron Mafrige

An owner of his own business in Houston, Ron Mafrige is a 1960 graduate of Sam Houston State Teachers College with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree.

After receiving his degree, he served in the U.S. Army, remaining in the Army Reserves for 14 years and achieving the rank of Major before he retired.

In 1968, he formed what would become Ron Mafrige Enterprises, Inc., which has leased over one million commercial square feet of office space in the City of Houston, as well as helped pioneer the suburban office development as the exclusive agent for Strokes Adair Enterprises in Houston.

At SHSU, he is on the board of directors for the Alumni Association, the Kat Pack and the College of Business Administration; is a Life Endowed Member of the Alumni Association; a lifetime member of the T Association Letterman Club; director of the Kat Pack Club; and is a 1997 Distinguished Alumni.

In addition to many financial and gift donations, Mafrige and his late wife, Linda, established a $1 million endowment for the College of Business Administration in the name of Glenn Adams, who was president of his company at the time; and has had the auditorium in the Smith-Hutson Business Building named in his and his wife’s honor.

“Ron helped create the alumni garden and the service award,” his nomination form said. “I see the Distinguished Alumni Award and the Service Award as two separate awards. Few individuals deserve both. Ron is one of them.”

Outside of his university endeavors, the Mafriges have established similar scholarship programs at his high school, San Marcos Baptist Academy, and at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, where seven of his $10,000-scholarship recipients have opted to attend SHSU.

He is a lifetime member of the Houston 100 Club, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the Republican National Committee and the Houston Realtors—Political Action Committee, along with having served on the board of directors for numerous other foundations and agencies.

“Ron makes a difference in this world,” his form said. “He knows how to accomplish his goals, and he deeply cares about his friends, his schools (SHSU and San Marcos) and his family.”

James S. Olson

James S.Olson

A distinguished professor at Sam Houston State University, James S. Olson is a 1967 graduate of Brigham Young University, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. He received his Master of Arts and doctorate degrees, also in history, from State University of New York, Stony Brook in 1969 and 1972, respectively.

Olson has taught at SHSU for 32 years, serving as history department chair for 16 years and has earned more than 20 awards throughout his academic and professional career, including the SHSU Excellence in Teaching and Excellence in Faculty Research awards. He was also a finalist twice for the Piper Award and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Biography in 1996.

Many of his written works have been published on topics such as the Vietnam War, breast cancer, Native Americans and John Wayne. In addition, Olson has taught more than 35,000 students at SHSU alone, contributed more than $86,000 in donations to the university and was a two-time president of the Faculty Senate.

“He is invariably kind and considerate to all of his students and helpful to fellow teachers,” one nomination form said. “He is incredibly hard-working in his research and writing, as well. He has written over 40 books, articles and publications and has put Sam Houston on the map with his national and international fame.”

Earlier this year, the auditorium of SHSU’s newest classroom and office building, Academic Building 4, was named in his honor.

Within the community, he is active within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has worked with Boy Scouts of America Troop 1046, the Institute of Religion and the Latter Day Saints Student Association.

“With all the honors he has received, Dr. Olson has obviously brought great distinction to SHSU, and by association, to this community,” another nomination form said. “What is most remarkable is that he does all of this with enormous grace, humility and courage in the face of tremendous health challenges, and thus serves as an exemplary role model for his students and for all of us.”


Robert Daniel Pierce, Jr.

Danny Pierce

The owner of Heartfield Florist in Huntsville, Danny Pierce is a longtime friend of the university.
A graduate of Huntsville High School, where he moved after his junior year at Conroe High School, he attended SHSU and purchased Heartfield Florist in 1966.

A member of the SHSU Alumni Association and Bearkat Partners, Pierce has been responsible for the floral arrangements at the SHSU commencement ceremonies since purchasing Heartfield Florist.

“The university is so important to him, and he has, over the years, provided student jobs and training in marketing through the Small Business Development Office,” his nomination form said.

Within the Huntsville community, Pierce has served as Walker County Judge since January 2003, has been president of the Walker County Fair Association, member of the Lions and Rotary clubs and chairman of the Mid-South nominating committee.

“Danny’s desire to run for county judge stemmed from his deep-seated conviction that we all should try and make a difference in our community,” his form said.

He is a board member and president of the Walker County Rural Water Agency, director of the Texas High School Rodeo Association, is a member of F.T.D. and has been listed in the “Top Ten Florists for the Houston Metropolitan and Surrounding Areas.”

He and his wife, Cindy, have seven children, two of which are currently attending SHSU as agricultural business majors, and six grandchildren.

“Danny is honest, hardworking, sincere and down-to-earth. He is a caring and helpful “people person,” ready to serve whenever called on,” the form continued. “He provides his talent to create the finest flower arrangements when called on by SHSU.”

Patricia A. Williams

Patricia A. Williams

A professor at Sam Houston State University since 1979, Patricia A. Williams received a Bachelor of Arts in teaching and a Master of Arts in English from SHSU in 1973 and 1974, respectively. She also earned her doctorate in education in 1979 from the University of Houston.

Author, co-author or editor of over 80 published written works, Williams has served her alma-mater through memberships on numerous university committees, including the Faculty Senate for six years, the university budget committee, academic policy council and has been chair of both the Across-the-University Writing Program committee and distinguished lecturer series committee, among many others.

“Patricia gives to the university wherever and whenever she can,” her nomination form said. “”She provides her service and economic resources at many levels. She works hard to serve the students and the university community.”

She is a life member of the Alumni Association, Alpha Chi National College Honor Scholarship Society, Phi Delta Kappa, and has presented at conventions of the Association of Teacher Educators for 14 years, as well as being affiliated with many other professional and academic organizations.

“She assumed the leadership role in establishing the Writing Center, first housed at the university library building. She did extensive research, traveled to operating writing centers for ideas and returned to create a center to assist students with writing, math, history etc.,” a nomination letter said.

“Houston Endowment funded a grant to assist with this project. This concept grew and today is maintained by several departments university-wide,” the letter continued. “She has served as a consultant nationally for many universities and organizations, helping them to develop their own centers.”

Williams is also the faculty sponsor of the SHSU Texas Omicron chapter of Alpha Chi, for which she has served on the national board for 12 years and was national president for four years.

“In all of her responsibilities, her creative endeavors bring nation-wide recognition to Sam Houston State University and to her professional contributions here,” her nomination letter also said. “It would be difficult to estimate the number of students, faculty and other individuals and/or organizations that she has influenced through the services she has rendered to the university.”

Nancy Perkins Wilson


Nancy Perkins Wilson

Now a retired teacher, Nancy Perkins Wilson is a 1953 graduate of Sam Houston State Teachers College with a degree in elementary education.

A teacher for 30 years in the Alamo Heights Independent School District in San Antonio, where she helped organize several alumni receptions in and around the city, she and her husband, Ben, moved to Huntsville in 1990.

In 2001, when the alumni director resigned and she was serving as president of the Alumni Association, she came to the association’s aid for about six months until a new director was hired, according to one nomination letter.

“She was at the Alumni Office virtually every day doing anything and everything she could to hold us together until we had a director,” the letter said. “Not many people could or would do this.

“She has shown throughout her life the love she has for Sam Houston State University,” the letter continued. “Many people have this same love, but Nancy has backed her up with dedication, loyalty and hard work.”

Wilson has also been involved in many university committees, including Homecoming, official university ring, Bobby Marks investiture and university theatre committees. In 2003, she was selected as a “Notable” by the university theatre committee.

“I can’t recall when she was not chairman of a committee,” another nomination letter said. “All these responsibilities she has accepted with pleasure and done outstanding work for the organization.”

Within the community, Wilson has served as president of the Newcomers Club of Huntsville, helped reorganize Walker County Crime Stoppers, has served as a board member of the Huntsville Library, is in the Outlook Club of Huntsville and in the Elkins Lake Community Association, and is active within the First United Methodist Church of Huntsville.

“There are not enough words to express what a wonderful and caring person Nancy is,” the nomination letter continued. “Nancy Wilson is one of Sam Houston’s best ambassadors and truly deserving of any and all honors we can bestow on her.”


SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt
April 12, 2004
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