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Six To Be Recognized
For Outstanding Service

Six individuals will be presented SHSU Alumni Service Awards April 19 by the Sam Houston State University Alumni Association for their service to the university and other worthy causes.

Those being honored are the late Charles "Tank" Baxter, Joyce Walters Eveld of Houston, William P. Fleming of Huntsville, Bobbie Hilliard of Huntsville, Melvin Hunt of Cleveland, and Gerardo O. Ruiz of Puebla, Mexico.

Charles "Tank" Baxter

Charles Baxter Baxter was a Huntsville resident who died in July 2000. He was president of SHSU athletics booster organizations and a major fund-raiser, attended many athletic events and often assisted in the press box at football games and at the scorer's table at basketball games.

He was one of the top three fundraisers for Bearkat Athletics from 1986-2000, bringing in over $260,000.

Baxter was also active in the Huntsville/Walker County Chamber of Commerce, giving his time to special projects such as the Lobster Fiesta and Fair on the Square. Because of his work he was presented the chamber's Key Member award.

Baxter earned his bachelor of business administration degree from Sam Houston State in 1971. He worked in sales for the Lance Corporation from 1969-71, was chief director of the Walker County Probation Office from 1971-88, and worked in sales for the Herrod Insurance Agency from 1988-2000.

He served with the 49th Armored Division of the Texas National Guard between 1961 and 1974 and was part of the mobilization during the Cuban Crisis in 1961-62.

He and his wife, Joan, were married for 35 years, and they have two children, Beth and Brooke. He was a member of Calvary Baptist Church, where he prepared and served meals for church members and visitors before Wednesday night services and for special events.

"Charles was loyal and supportive of Sam Houston State, not just athletics," wrote Richard Cording, one of several who nominated Baxter for the award. "Charles was a tireless worker for the university and the Huntsville community. He gave his time and energy freely, asking nothing in return."

Joyce Walters Eveld

Joyce Walters Eveld Eveld graduated from Sam Houston State in 1952 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. After 23 years of teaching in elementary and secondary public and private schools, she distinguished herself as a volunteer in the Houston community through a number of educational, fundraising, and service activities for adults and children.

She is a past president of Assistance League of Houston, a national philanthropic nonprofit service organization that provides an estimated $300,000 and 24,000 service hours annually to the community.

The organization provides scholarships, clothes for disadvantaged children, and presents puppet shows in elementary schools on issues such as drugs, gang awareness and a positive attitude toward school.

She is a lifetime member of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, serving on the International and Speakers Committees. She has also served as a judge for the School Art Committee.

In addition, she has been awarded Honorary Life Membership in the Texas Congress of Parents and Teachers. She has held offices and has chaired positions in many professional, civic, educational, and personal-interest organizations.

She has been actively involved in the National Association of Developmental Therapists, Association of Childhood Education International, Association of Texas Professional Educators, Association of Educational Therapists, Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, Who's Who International, and the Rotary service organization. She is the mother of five children, and the widow of Robert G. Eveld, who worked as a chemist for the Shell Oil Company for 30 years.

William P. Fleming

William P. Fleming Fleming has been a member of the Sam Houston State University faculty for 30 years, having completed his bachelor's and master's degrees at SHSU and his doctorate at the University of Toledo. He has won SHSU honors for Excellence in Service (1996) and Excellence in Teaching (1998).

In addition to assisting with alumni publications for many years, Fleming has served as a member of alumni advisory boards from 1990 to 1999, and was the first faculty member to serve as president of the SHSU Alumni Association in 1994-95.

Fleming has been active as a member of the University Faculty Senate, serving as its chair for 1997-98, 1999-2000, and 2001-02. He was also named president-elect of the Texas Council of Faculty Senates in February, 2000, is serving as that group's president for 2001-03, and will continue to work with the organization in 2003-04.

He was also elected as first president of the newly formed Council of Texas State University System Senate Leaders in 1999, an organization composed of faculty senate leaders from each of the system's seven component institutions.

His committee work on behalf of the university has been extensive, including 10 committees and councils. He has also served on search committees for the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Dean of Libraries, steering committees for events marking the retirement of Bobby K. Marks and investiture of James F. Gaertner, and represented the faculty as a speaker at the Gaertner investiture.

He has also been active as an adviser to the Sigma Chi, Order of Omega, and Sigma Tau Delta student organizations. Community service has included the General Sam Houston Folk Festival and Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church Choir.

Bobbie J. Hilliard

Bobbie Hilliard For the past 28 years athletic directors have come and gone at Sam Houston State University. Hilliard has worked with all seven, and is known for her skill in helping the department function smoothly, and her personal commitment to good-natured service.

Hilliard earned her Bachelor of Business Administration Degree from Sam Houston State and was hired in the Athletic Department. As athletic business manager, her duties include the daily management of all business and financial matters, administering all athletic scholarships, and serving as ticket manager for all events at Bowers Stadium.

In 1998 she served on the National Collegiate Athletic Association certification committee and is presently a member of the Athletic Gender Equity Committee. She received the Department of Student Services outstanding employee award in 1997.

Hilliard is also a lifetime member of the Walker County Fair Association. Over the past 18 years she has served as a member of the Fair's Admissions Committee, as chairman of the Membership Committee, as a director, and on the association's executive board.

She has a daughter, Michelle, son-in-law Scott, both of whom are graduates of SHSU, and granddaughters Cassidy and Kendall.

"Bobbie works endless loyal hours in a position that she does not view as a job--rather a position of service," wrote Chris Thompson, who nominated Hilliard for the alumni award. "She always takes the time to help a student athlete with a problem, need, concern or question. She never forgets we have a job and are here because of the students."

She was also nominated by Athletic Department supporter Derelys Hungarland, who won the alumni service award in 2001 and who praised Hilliard's "dedication." "She has always put Sam Houston first starting as a student and now as an employee," wrote Hungarland.

Melvin Hunt

Melvin Hunt Hunt continues a lifetime of service that began at the tender age of 21, when he was elected to the Cleveland City Council while still a student at Sam Houston State University.

Two years later, in 1976, he graduated from Sam Houston State with a Bachelor of Science Degree in political science, and was re-elected to the city council. He was also re-elected for two additional terms in 1980 and 1982.

While serving those terms, he also worked as a government and economics teacher in Cleveland schools, and was selected as "Teacher of the Year" three times. His other education-related activities have included serving as co-chairman of Project Graduation and in fundraising for Cleveland High School for three years.

In 1984 he broadened the scope of his government service to Liberty County, beginning what has developed into a 17-year period as precinct 3 commissioner. He served as president of the South Texas County Judge's and Commissioner's Association in 1997-98 and served on the board of the Texas Association of Counties in 1998.

Community work has included service as president of the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce in 1999 and president of the Cleveland Kiwanis Club for eight years, from 1990-98. He was named Cleveland Kiwanian of the Year six times, and Cleveland Citizen of the Year three times.

Hunt has been an active supporter of Sam Houston State University and the Alumni Association, providing donations for 12 years to the SHSU Political Science Scholarship Fund.

He and his wife, Patricia, have two sons and a daughter. Son Melvin Ferris Hunt III graduated from SHSU in August 2001 with an accounting degree and son Scott Hunt will graduate in May 2003 in accounting.

Daughter-in-law Brandy Owens Hunt graduated from SHSU in December 2001 with a bachelor of science degree and teaching certification. Daughter Kellie Renee Hunt is a freshman at SHSU.

Gerardo O. Ruiz

Gerardo O. Ruiz The service of the Ruiz family to Sam Houston State University goes beyond the borders of the United States and before the time when there was a Gerardo O. Ruiz.

The father of Gerardo Ruiz, Gustavo Ruiz, was an electrical engineer living in Puebla, Mexico, in the early 1940s when he met a Sam Houston State professor named Jesse Burleson. They worked together to conduct a summer studies program there until 1976. That program was revived in 1996.

As a result of his family's friendship with Sam Houston State faculty and students, Gerardo Ruiz attended Sam Houston State University, earning his Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in 1975.

In addition to club and organization memberships and achieving the Dean's List, Ruiz worked as a lab instructor, as a laborer, and as a cook added his Mexican influence to the Pizza Inn's Italian menu.

He is now president, owner, and major shareholder of Puebla businesses involved in the wholesale and retail sale of electrical equipment and electrical and industrial contracting. He has also been active in the community with the Puebla Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club of Puebla and in service to national professional associations.

Ruiz has continued to work on behalf of the summer program his father helped organize a half century ago. He assists with a number of logistical matters in Puebla, arranges for business students to tour his and other businesses, and he and his wife, Rosita, invites the students into their home for social events.

"He showed sincere concern for us during the earthquake of 1999," wrote Frieda Koeninger, director of the field school. "As soon as he was sure that his own family was safe, he rushed to check on us...there could be no better friend of Sam Houston State University."

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SHSU Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
April 5, 2002
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