Spirit of Tarleton
Yes, I am the spirit of Tarleton. I was born in 1899 from the soul of an itinerant farmer.
I suffered the pangs of early childhood with James Cox, Pearl Chamberlin, Charles Froh, George Ollie Ferguson, and Charlie Hale.
I was with Governor Ferguson in 1917 when he made Tarleton a part of the Texas A&M College, and taught with D. G. Hunewell, Pearl Mahan, H. C. Doremus, and Jack English.
I nursed the sick with Louise Barekman, and I laid a cornerstone with J. Thomas Davis.
I sowed the fields with Monroe Wells, and I wrapped the Maypole with Laura Fellman.
I was in Ripley’s “Believe It or Not” with J. Dixon White when he shot a 57 on a par 72 course.
I won 86 consecutive basketball games with Coach Wisdom, Elmer Finley, Oran Spears, Willie Tate, and Jude Smith, and I brought home 19 state and conference track championships with Coach Frazier, Hugh Wolfe, Ralph Moser, Jack Pettit, and Pence Dacus.
I saw war clouds gathering over Europe with Jack McCullough, John Buckner, Tid Watkins, and Edwin Dyess, and I was at Pearl Harbor with Clyde Sweeney.
I died on the beach at Normandy with Col. James Bender, and I climbed the cliffs at Pointe Du Hoc with Gen. Earl Rudder.
I fell from the skies over Stuttgart, Germany with John Fielding Higgs, and I flew 30 seconds over Tokyo with Bob “Bullet” Grey.
I was in the blood of Elmo Donaho spilled on Heartbreak Ridge.
I built a financial empire with Gus Wortham, and I ran Houston Natural Gas with Robert Ray Herring. I held the scalpel with Randolph Clark, Norman Shumway, Vance Terrell, and Bud Frazier, and I shared the classroom with Mae Jones, Dick Smith, Dollie Glover, Doyle Graves, Doc Blanchard, and Joe Autry.
I won an Oscar with George Kennedy, and I was on “Eyewitness News” with Marvin Zindler.
I went to the National Baseball Finals with Cecil Ballow, Roy Menge, and Mickey Lee, and I was in the Kennedy Parade and on the UT Tower with Jerry Flemmons.
I claimed a national tennis championship with Buddy Stasney and Wayne Kiser, and I won the Aztec Bowl with John Dunn, Pat Ballow, Ronald Mays, and Walter Moegelin.
I held Todd and Brian McMahon in my arms while they cried for their father, J. D., and I roamed the gridiron with Marvin Brown, Lloyd Corder, and Ricky Bush.
I won the national rodeo championships with Johnny Edmondson, Randy Magers, Terry Walls, Connie Wilkinson, Vicki Higgins, Martha Thompkins, and Sally Preston.
I was with Governor Price Daniel, Joseph Chandler, Rufus Higgs, Harvey Belcher, and Jack Teddlie when Tarleton became a four year college, and I marched with the Texan Stars.
I walked the Halls of Congress with Sam Russell and Charlie Stenholm, and I sat on the bench with Ernest Belcher, J. Curtiss Brown, Don Jones, and James Morgan.
I toured the Caribbean with the Troubadours, and I played at the World’s Fair with the Jazz Ensemble.
I presided over the Senate with Ben Barnes, and I sat on the Railroad Commission with Jim Langdon.
I made the laws of Texas with J.P. Word, Carl Hardin, J. Manley Head, Joe Hanna, Bill Meier, Mike Moncrief, and Bob Glasgow.
I was on the Coordinating Board with Jack Arthur.
I broke the color barrier with Jumper Davis, and I was with Nancy Golden when she became the first woman student body president, Guin Sherman Lemke when she was elected president of the Alumni Association, and Deann Moore when she was commissioned a Second Lieutenant.
I wore the crown of Miss Rodeo America with Debbie Johnston, and I wore the collar of Homecoming Queen with Jessie.
I won All America honors with John Riggs, Randy Winkler, Harlen Wunsch, Moise Pomenay, Tally Neal, Dianna May, Wanda Byrd, Cindy Greer, and James Hawkins, and I set basketball records with Judy Gleaton, Dwayne Johnson, and Ross Taylor.
I am the Sunflower Bowl championship ring on the fingers of Gaylon Bowser, Mike Myers, Perry Bukowski, and Craig Hancock, and I high jumped into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame with James Hawkins.
I ran the distance with Javier Tamez to become a four-time conference champion, sprinted with Chuck High, and went to the national finals with Lane McNamara as Tarleton’s first decathalon perfomer.
I was with the Computer Information Systems and Management Department when it was selected the top four-year educational program in the United States, and I cheered when Dara Robertson was placed on the USA Today’s All Academic College Team.
I ranked with Jan Lowery as one of the winningest coaches in all divisions of women’s basketball in the U.S., and I won 12 conference championships and advanced to the national finals three times with Wanda Byrd, Vickie Neff, Dianna May, and Jennifer Washington.
With the affiliate chapter of the American Chemical Society, I was designated one of the “Outstanding” chapters nationwide, and the only one from Texas.
I swirled among hundreds of athletes from throughout the U.S. and Canada as Tarleton hosted the national track and field finals of the NAIA.
I pitched no-hitters and went to the Philadelphia Phillies with David Agado, and I was with Jeffrey McFadden when he became Tarleton’s first All-America basketball player and joined the professional ranks.
I blocked and ran to a football record with Eric Lugo, Mike Loveless, Eddie Washington, Brian Lewis, Robert Simpson, Jr., and Bobby Sutton when the Texans posted the first 10-0 season in Tarleton’s history.
I won the Piper Award with Aaron Grant, Don Zelman, and Tim Flynn, and I was named Texas Artist of the Year with Covelle Jones.
I sat on the Board of Regents 23 years with Clyde Wells, and I explored outer space with Millie Hughes-Fulford.
I was with E.J. Howell and Bill Trogdon when Tarleton burst from her shell and lifted her wings to the sky.
I spread across the heart of Stephenville as TSU’s physical facilities mushroomed, and I rumbled across Texas with the Alumni Association chapters.
I was the Mace at the inauguration of Barry B. Thompson, and I graduated with Emily Jane.
Yes, I have the spirit of Tarleton, and by the grace of God I’ll always have.
About the Author
A Stephenville native, J. Louis Evans attended John Tarleton Agricultural College from 1933 to 1941. After serving in the military, Evans returned to Tarleton in 1952 to manage the College Store. He left in 1958 to enter private business and over the years worked for a number of newspapers including the Stephenville Empire Tribune, the Hamilton Herald and the San Marcos Record.
Evans was elected Mayor of Stephenville four times, was company commander of the Stephenville National Guard, president of the Lions Club, American Legion Commander and Chamber of Commerce Director. He was named Stephenville Jaycees “Outstanding Young Man” in 1959 and was honored as Distinguished Alumnus of Tarleton in 1975.
In 1970 he was named as Tarleton’s Director of Development and Executive Director of the Tarleton Alumni Association and served for four years in that position before leaving to become editor of the San Marcos paper. He returned to Tarleton in 1976 to resume his role as Executive Director of the TAA and served as Director of Information. He retired in 1984.
Out of respect for his long association with the University, Evans was invited to speak at the December 1984 graduation. His only daughter, Emily was among the graduates. His short Tarleton history lesson remains among the more popular commencement remarks ever delivered at the University. The piece was last updated in 1991 by Evans at the request of the Alumni Association.