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Spirit® is published three times per year by the Texas A&M Foundation, which manages major gifts and endowments for the benefit of academic programs, scholarships and student activities at Texas A&M University.

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IN THEIR NAMES

There’s a reason it’s called the Aggie Family. Since its inception, Texas A&M University has brought together thousands of people, fostering countless lifelong connections. It’s no surprise, therefore, that the campus traditions that hold precedence above all others are the ones in which Aggies honor the memory of other Aggies. Every year, thousands at Muster answer “Here” for those who cannot. When they are called to Silver Taps, silent masses of students gather at Academic Plaza to remember their fellow Aggies as they would hope to be remembered.

In this article, we’re sharing six stories of donors who established gifts to Texas A&M in honor of loved ones—both living and deceased—during the Lead by Example campaign. Because such gifts can be individually customized, many choose to give to areas in accordance with their loved ones’ own passions and interests. From a daughter’s unique anniversary present to a touching tribute for a fallen president, each story shows how Aggies are creating meaningful and reflective gifts.

Your honorary or memorial gift to the Texas A&M Foundation can be tailored to fit the interests and values of your loved one, making it a true extension of that person’s life and accomplishments. As you read these stories, consider how your own gift could create a living legacy for someone who has made an undeniable difference in your life.

Less than a year after graduating, Taylor Butler '19 created a petroleum engineering scholarship in honor of her parents, Leasa '86 and Kurt Butler '86.

It Runs in the Family

After graduation, Taylor Butler ’19 endowed a scholarship in honor of her parents’ 25th wedding anniversary to recognize their influence on her character and career.

The old saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” can easily be applied to the Butler family. Attributing her early interest in engineering to her parents, who are both Texas A&M University petroleum engineering graduates, Taylor Butler ’19 followed in their footsteps, graduating nearly 33 years later with her own petroleum engineering degree.  

As an undergrad, Taylor received several scholarships funded by former students and knew she wanted to continue cultivating an atmosphere of support around engineering students. “In a tight-knit department like petroleum engineering, it’s nice for current students to know they have support from former students,” she said. “I could go on for days about the incredible experiences and memories that Texas A&M, and particularly the petroleum engineering department, gave me.”

To the surprise of her parents, Leasa ’86 and Kurt Butler ’86, Taylor endowed a petroleum engineering scholarship in their names in honor of their 25th wedding anniversary less than a year after graduating. “Taylor has always been generous, but to establish such a wonderful gift so soon after graduation is incredible,” Leasa said. “We couldn’t be prouder of her. It is such an honor to be the namesakes of her gift.”

Taylor is now employed in Houston with Southwestern Energy as a rotational engineer and is grateful for the experiences and knowledge she gained from Texas A&M. More than anything, however, she is grateful for her parents' example and is proud to be part of their legacy. “I owe everything I am to my parents,” she added. “They have given me continuous support and advice, and they were monumentally influential in shaping me into who I am today.”

Linda Christine established the Terry Lynn Rich Memorial Scholarship for marine biology students at Texas A&M University of Galveston. The scholarship honors her youngest sister's adventurous spirit and love for the ocean.

Fishing for Adventure

Combining her love for her sister and the sea, Linda Christine and her husband, Charles ’96, created the Terry Lynn Rich Memorial Scholarship for students studying marine biology.

In the wake of her youngest sister’s passing, Linda Christine knew she and her husband, Charles ’96, wanted to honor her life. Remembering Terry’s adventurous spirit and love for the ocean, Linda and Charles, a graduate of Texas A&M University at Galveston, decided to establish the Terry Lynn Rich Memorial Scholarship for marine biology students at Texas A&M Galveston.

“Terry was the youngest of four girls and the first of her sisters to pass away,” Charles said. “We felt this scholarship would create a lasting legacy for her by supporting students as they pursue their own adventures.”

As children, Linda’s grandfather would take all four of his granddaughters fishing, which she remembers as the start of their love for the water. “Terry always loved being around water,” Linda said. “She was often sick with asthma as a child, but she never let that keep her from adventure. As a mother, she took her children camping and taught them to explore the world around them. She was fearless, and I was always in awe of her.”

Created with matching funds from Sherwin Williams, where Charles worked as a chemist until retiring in October 2019, the Christines’ scholarship will allow future students to follow in Terry’s footsteps as they pursue their own passions. “We understand the financial burdens that college can bring,” Charles said. “We hope this scholarship helps students as they learn and grow, which is something we know Terry would have wanted.”

Ann Berger created a General Rudder Corps Scholarship in honor of her longtime friends, the late Nelda and Col. David Cravey '49.

A Legacy of Friendship

In honor of their longtime friendship, Ann Berger surprised the late Col. David Cravey ’49 with a General Rudder Corps Scholarship named for him and his late wife, Nelda.

Since meeting the late Col. David Cravey ’49 and his late wife, Nelda, more than 35 years ago, Ann Berger and her late husband, Robert ’60, quickly became friends with the couple. “Whenever we traveled for anything to do with Texas A&M University, we always coordinated our plans with Nelda, Dave and a few other couples,” Ann said. 

To commemorate their friendship, Ann created a General Rudder Corps Scholarship for a Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band member in Dave and Nelda’s honor. She surprised Dave before his passing in January 2020 by presenting him with a plaque announcing the scholarship before the Texas A&M vs. Auburn football game last September.

“This came as a tremendous surprise for me, but it is typically fitting for the Bergers,” Dave said at the time. “They have always been so generous and gracious, especially in their love for Texas A&M. It was a day I will always remember.”

Inspired by Dave and Nelda’s love for each other and their generosity to others, Ann hopes this scholarship will continue their legacy for years to come. “I can honestly say that Nelda and Dave were the most loving and unselfish couple I ever met, aside from my own parents,” she said. “I couldn’t imagine a better way to honor our friendship than with this scholarship.”

Glynna '80 and Bob Leiper (right) established gifts for the Singing Cadets, Mays Business School, and the College of Education and Human Development as a way to honor their loved ones.

Honoring Traditions

Glynna ’80 and Bob Leiper are using gifts for the Singing Cadets, Mays Business School, and the College of Education and Human Development as a way to honor their loved ones.

Glynna ’80 and Bob Leiper are no strangers to creating honorary gifts as a way of showing their love for those they care about. In fact, the couple has created three endowed scholarships honoring their two children and Bob’s mother, Frances Wright Leiper.

The couple’s son, Chad ’17, was a member of the Singing Cadets while pursuing his degrees in biomedical science and business. “The unique life lessons and experiences he gained through the Singing Cadets changed his life and our lives,” Glynna said. To honor Chad’s participation in the university’s premier men’s chorus, his parents established a scholarship for members of the Singing Cadets in his name.

“Knowing that my parents came to love the organization as much as I do speaks volumes about their commitment to me and Texas A&M,” Chad added.

To honor their daughter, Kelsey ’12, a business administration graduate, the couple established a scholarship for first-generation students pursuing a degree in Mays Business School. They believe her experience in the school created a strong foundation for her education and future career.

Finally, the Leipers honored Bob’s mother, a lifelong elementary teacher, through a scholarship designated for Aggies in the College of Education and Human Development who are pursuing a Pre-K through sixth grade teaching certification. “It is the perfect way to honor my grandmother’s legacy of providing quality education to others,” Kelsey said.

In addition to their honorary gifts, the Leipers have also donated to MSC OPAS to help students expand their worldview through the arts. “We wanted to pay it forward as much as we could to help others,” Glynna added. “This way, we will continue having a positive impact even after we are gone.”

In honor of the legacies left by President and Mrs. Bush, the Houston Aggie Moms' Club created a $25,000 endowed undergraduate scholarship in the College of Education and Human Development and a $25,000 graduate fellowship in The Bush School of Government and Public Service.

Remembering the BushES

The Houston Aggie Moms’ Club honors the lives and legacies of First Lady Barbara Bush and President George H.W. Bush with two endowed gifts.

Since 1927, the dedicated mothers in the Houston Aggie Moms’ Club have established more than 25 endowed scholarships at Texas A&M University. In honor of the historic legacies left by the late First Lady and President, the club created $25,000 endowed scholarships in both the College of Education and Human Development and The Bush School of Government and Public Service to help students reach their full potential. 

“For many years, President and Mrs. Bush generously donated items featured at our annual fundraiser, which we greatly appreciated,” said Melissa Johnson, the club’s 2018-2019 president. “Their lives exemplify the core values of Texas A&M University, so we were inspired to create these scholarships to honor them as dedicated public servants, beloved for their commitment to family, volunteerism, literacy and public service.”

The Barbara Bush Spirit of Teaching/Houston Aggie Moms’ Club Endowed Scholarship will support undergraduate education majors during a semester of their yearlong student teaching requirement in the Houston area. “We hope these scholarships will lessen financial burdens and allow students to focus on their studies, broaden their student-teaching experience and maximize their community involvement,” Johnson said. “Mrs. Bush was an amazing advocate of the power of literacy to change lives.”

After President Bush passed away in November 2018, the club created a fellowship in his name for graduate students in the Bush School who demonstrate excellence in leadership, public service and public volunteerism. “Mrs. Bush and President Bush were benevolent individuals who always looked to serve their communities,” Johnson added. “We hope both gifts continue to keep the Bushes alive in the hearts of Aggies and honor them as model citizens of not just Houston, but also our state and nation.”

A member of the Texas A&M College of Medicine's charter class, Dr. Gary Ozier '78 (center) established a gift in honor of his parents to support future Texas A&M University medical students.

A Pioneer Pays Back

Dr. Gary Ozier ’78, a member of the College of Medicine’s charter class, established a gift in honor of his parents to support the next generation of doctors.

Dr. Gary Ozier’s family history certainly suggested a path in medicine. Growing up watching his father, Dr. Billy Ozier ’42, enjoy a fulfilling career practicing medicine inspired his own interest in the field. Now, decades later, Gary is a family physician in Wichita Falls, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Andrea, and his children, Catherine ’15, Jennifer ’17, Sam ’21 and Bill ’24. Today, he has established a $25,000 gift to support future Texas A&M University medical students.

“As a member of the College of Medicine’s charter class, I feel a duty to invest in paving the way for future doctors,” said Gary, a Class of 1978 graduate. “I see giving back as an opportunity to leave a legacy for future generations and the future of medicine.”

Hoping to show gratitude for the lessons Texas A&M provided him in and out of the classroom, Gary created the Dr. Billy B. Ozier ’42 and Margie Ozier/Rapport Society Endowed Scholarship. Named in honor of Gary’s parents, the gift will support Aggie medical students from Wichita County in Texas.

“More than a plaque or any other dedication, my parents would have valued this living legacy,” Gary added. “My family’s culture and Texas A&M’s culture both instilled in me the importance of selfless service to others. As a doctor, I am thankful for the chance to embody that spirit of service every day, and I hope this scholarship will provide the same opportunity to many more Aggies.”

Contact:

Dunae Reader '15

Assistant Director of Marketing & Communications/Spirit Editor/Maroon Co-Editor