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Alumni Honored As Distinguished

Five Sam Houston State University graduates who have made notable contributions to the business, education and medical fields, as well as to SHSU itself, will be honored as Distinguished Alumni on Friday (Oct. 13), as part of the university's 2006 homecoming festivities.

The honorees include Ron and Ruth Blatchley, James Hayley, Ron Koska, Robert Rod and T.O. Souryal.
The Distinguished Alumni Gala will take place at 6 p.m. in the Lowman Student Center Ballroom.

Tickets are $60 each or $750-1,000 to sponsor a table. For more information about the event, contact the SHSU Office of Alumni Relations at 936.294.1841.


Ron and Ruth Blatchley

Ron and Ruth Blatchley

Former neighbors of current university President James F. Gaertner and his wife, Nancy, while students at SHSU, Ron and Ruth Blatchley helped provide one of the university’s most noticeable new features, the Bell Tower.

The former owners of more than 12 McDonald’s restaurants in the Bryan/College Station and Houston areas during an 18-year period, Ron received both his bachelor's and master’s degrees from SHSU in 1968 and 1969, respectively.

He also served four years in the US Air Force, was the director of student affairs at Texas A&M University for 14 years, was mayor of Bryan from 1983-1985, and currently owns a residential construction company in Bryan that builds homes in Brazos and Grimes counties.

In addition, he serves on the board of directors of First National Bank of Bryan/College Station and has been the recipient of such awards as the 2001 Newman Award for an outstanding businessman in Bryan/College Station, 1998 Outstanding McDonald’s Partner for the top 20 franchise owners in the world and “Top Rookie Owner/Operator” in McDonald’s of Texas, among many others.

A “Realtor of the Year,” Ruth, owned a real estate company with two partners in Bryan/College Station for 10 years. She also was active in numerous organizations in the area.

She became one of the first women in the Houston Region to become a licensed owner/operator of McDonald’s restaurants when she and her husband went into partnership in their 12 franchise restaurants, where she was an active participant in the day-to-day operation and also served as president of the Houston Region Operator’s Association.

Ruth retired in 2002.

In addition to being a significant donor to the Bell Tower, the Blatchleys also provided a clock in the Alumni Garden, beside the Lowman Student Center.

They have one daughter, two grandchildren and a great grandson.


James Hayley

James Hayley

A former member of the Texas State University System Board of Regents, Hayley is president and chief executive officer of the Texas City—La Marque Chamber of Commerce.

He received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1959.

Named to the TSUS board of regents in 1999 by then-governor George W. Bush, Hayley assisted in obtaining regent approval for various projects on the SHSU campus, including three new dormitories, the Visitor/Alumni Center, and the baseball/softball complex, served as the local chairman for SHSU and was vice chairman of the Texas State University—San Marcos board.

“Jimmy had the respect of other regents as someone who was not only committed to his alma mater, but as a person who possessed the utmost integrity,” the letter said. “It is safe to say that had it not been for Jimmy’s persistent and effective support for the motions that we brought to the regents, Sam Houston State would not have achieved near the success that we have experienced in recent years.”

Among his endeavors are member and chairman of the board for Energy for Schools, Texas City Rotary Club member, member and former chairman of the Gulf Coast Chamber Executives and the Texas State Chamber Executives, St. John’s United Methodist Church member, and former trustee of La Marque Independent School District.

In addition, he received the “Outstanding Chamber of Commerce Executive in Texas” award in 2005 by the Texas Association of Business, is a past recipient of the Texas City—La Marque Community Service Award in 1998, the Texas Bancshares Howard O. Payne Award in 1996, and Texas Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Award in 2002.

He was named the Galveston County New Outstanding Citizen of the Year in 1991 and an “Outstanding Educator of America” in 1982.

Hayley and his wife, Jane, have two sons, Jerry and Jason, and five grandchildren.


Ron Koska

Ron Koska

A charter member of the SHSU chapter of Delta Tau Delta fraternity, Koska is a 1961 graduate with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

After graduation, he began his career in the food service industry and founded his own Houston-based firm in 1969.

His business, Institutional Sales Associates, now has 105 employees and offices in Houston, Austin, Lubbock, Dallas and Albuquerque and has sales in excess of $400 million.

Koska has shown SHSU, and his community, financial support by sponsoring the Student Technology and Lobby areas in the College of Business Administration, supplying food and labor for Athletic Department fundraisers and serving as a lifetime member of the Alumni Association and on the Sam Houston Memorial Museum’s “Friends of the Museum” board.

In addition, he serves as a benefactor for Delta Tau Delta National Fraternity, the Brookwood Community, the University of St. Thomas, Pines Montessori School, the Marine Military Academy in Harlingen, Lutheran High North, Houston Choral Showcase, Special Olympics, Pilgrim Baptist Church, Port Mansfield Chamber of Commerce, Zion Lutheran Preschool and Zion Lutheran Church in Houston.

“His drive, determination and integrity have contributed to his personal and business success,” said his nomination form. “Ron has consistently shared his business success with his community and Sam Houston State University in hopes of helping improve the quality of life for those around him.

Koska and his wife, Donna, have two sons.


Robert Rod

Robert Rod

A first vice president and financial broker for Raymond James and Associates and a multiple “Broker of the Year” recipient, Rod has been described as “honest,” a “hard worker” and “well-respected as a person and business man.”

He received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree in 1964.

Rod started his career as a stockbroker and has managed the account for Lyndon Baines Johnson’s family for over 20 years.

His business endeavors include being founder and chief executive officer of the National Bank of Waller County, now Texas Premier Bank; owning Redi-Smoke, which he later sold to Mr. Smokey; and purchasing the potato chip company that soon became Bob’s Texas Style, which he also sold to a publicly-traded company.
Avid hunters, he and his family have traveled the world on safaris.

A life member of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the NRA and the Houston and International Safari Club, as well as Ducks Unlimited and Quail Unlimited, Rod hosts “youth” hunts for the less fortunate and donates meats from hunting expeditions to the hungry.

In addition, he has chaired and been the honoree of many charities, such as the American Diabetes Association, the Ronald McDonald House, the National Rifle Association, Houston Safari Club, Safari Club International, and Westlake Club Wildlife Conservation Associations, among others.

“This man does so much for his family and friends,” his nomination form said. “He provides honest advice for his customers whom are all his friends. He is a great husband, parent, grandfather and person.”

Rod and his wife, Gay, have two children, Bobby and Michelle, a son-in-law, Steve, and one grandson.


T.O. Souryal

T.O. Souryal

Souryal, a 1977 graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology, is a nationally- and internationally-recognized orthopedic surgeon who not only works on professional athletes but provides free medical assistance to amateur athletes as well.

The son of an immigrant who came to the United States in the 1960s, Souryal did not speak any English until the age of 10. His father, Sam Souryal, is a professor of criminal justice at SHSU.

Souryal began distinguishing himself while at SHSU, serving as a senator in the Student Government Association, president of the Lowman Student Center Program Council, helping to establish a chapter of Kappa Sigma fraternity and graduating in three years.

When he was accepted at the University of Texas—San Antonio, one of three medical schools that accepted him, he was the first SHSU graduate to be admitted to medical school in several years.

As an orthopedic surgeon, he writes on orthopedic medicine for professional journals and lectures throughout the world on knee injuries.

Souryal is director of the Texas Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Group in Dallas and has been the team physician for many professional athletic teams. He is currently in his 14th year as head team physician for the Dallas Mavericks basketball team.

He also hosts a radio show for ESPN radio called “Inside Sports Medicine” since 2002 and is writing a book entitled “The Weekend Warrior’s Guide To Sports Injuries.”

“Tarek has not forgotten, and will never forget, his modest beginning,” a nomination letter said. “He is a great philanthropist; he offers medical assistance (for free) to several high schools in and around the Dallas area and refuses to charge those who cannot pay for medical attention.”

He expanded his philanthropic endeavors in 2004, when he established the Texas Sports Medicine Foundation, a charitable organization to help financially disadvantaged high school athletes with medical bills.

He and his wife, Karen, have three children.




SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt
Sept. 14, 2006
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Writer: Jennifer Gauntt
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