Era Elizabeth Billingsley

Era Elizabeth Billingsley passed away Jan. 31, 2016, in Garrison. Born Oct. 24, 1907, Billingsley was SFA’s oldest-living alum, graduating in 1930 with a bachelor’s degree. In 1940, she received a master’s degree from Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee.

The youngest of seven children, Billingsley’s family moved to Nacogdoches in 1923. Her family likely traveled with their belongings in a horse-drawn wagon from the Silas community near Timpson with one of her older brothers leading the family milk cow.

Five of the Billingsley children attended school in Nacogdoches and completed degrees at SFA. Subsequently, all five taught school for many years in Texas public schools. After serving 40 years teaching mostly second grade, Billingsley retired in 1972, and she lived in the Houston Heights area until 2008 when she returned to Nacogdoches. Since 2009, she resided at the Garrison Nursing Home.


Deana Bolton Covin

Deana Bolton Covin passed away July 1, 2016. Covin was born in Henderson on June 22, 1922. She devoted her life to entertainment as a performer, director, organizer and producer, which began as a Henderson High School student and continued after her retirement from Kilgore College.

Covin served as the first drum major at Henderson High School. She won the national baton twirling championship twice, and during her senior year, she was named the most representative senior high school girl, received the citizenship award and was the highest-ranking female graduate.

At SFA, she continued twirling, serving four years as drum major for the Lumberjack band. Covin was named Miss SFA three consecutive years. She received her Bachelor of Science in 1943 — taking only three years to complete the degree. Covin later returned to SFA and graduated in 1971 with a Master of Education.

Professionally, Covin was the originator and director of the Kilgore Tops in Twirling Drill Team from 1956-84. She served as director of the Dallas Tex-Anns and director of halftime for the Dallas Texans. She was the coordinator of Superstar Drill Team camps from 1976-90 and taught twirling for 15 years.

As a Kilgore College employee for 27 years, Covin sponsored the cheerleaders and in 1979 was promoted to director of the world-famous Kilgore Rangerettes. She served in that capacity until her retirement in 1993. The gym where the Rangerettes practice daily was named the Deana Bolton Covin Rangerette Gymnasium in 2001 in her honor.

vivian earline flanagan bobby flanagan

Vivian Earline Flanagan and Bobby G. Flanagan

Vivian Earline Flanagan and Bobby G. Flanagan passed away March 18, 2014, and May 24, 2016, respectively.

Vivian and Bobby met at SFA where Bobby played basketball for the Lumberjacks, lettering all four years. The college sweethearts married Sept. 5, 1953. Bobby received a Bachelor of Science in 1954 and a Master of Education in 1955. Vivian also graduated in 1955 with a Bachelor of Business Administration.

The couple moved to Woodsboro, Texas, where Bobby coached, and Vivian taught business classes. Bobby coached basketball, football, golf, track and baseball for 37 years while also serving as athletic director for 25 of those years. In addition, he taught government, history and economics. His basketball and football teams won numerous district titles, advancing to bi-district and regional playoffs. In 1994, Bobby was inducted into the Coastal Bend Coaches Association Hall of Honor.


Judge Joe B. Golden Jr.

Judge Joe B. Golden Jr. of Jasper passed away May 29, 2016. Golden was born Feb. 15, 1933, in Wichita Falls, Texas. Golden served on the SFA Board of Regents from 1969 to 1981. A longtime resident of Jasper, he was a 1950 graduate of Vernon High School in Vernon, Texas, and a 1954 graduate of the University of Texas.

Golden served in the U.S. Air Force as an intelligence officer in England. After military service, he returned to Texas, attended law school and met and married Suzanne Collier. He later moved to Jasper, where he went into private practice until 1988 when he was elected state district judge, 1st judicial district.


Dr. Robert W. Gruebel

Dr. Robert W. Gruebel passed away June 20, 2016, at his Nacogdoches residence. A native of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, Gruebel lived in Nacogdoches for 45 years and served on the SFA faculty as a professor of physics and astronomy. He was a Navy veteran, retiring from a 20-year career that included service in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.


Jimmie M. Hudgins

Jimmie M. Hudgins of Tyler passed away Feb. 19, 2016. Hudgins was born March 12, 1925, in Cumby, Texas. He was a musician and played French horn in the East Texas State Symphonic Orchestra at the age of 14. After graduating from Commerce High School in 1941, Hudgins joined the U.S. Navy and served on active duty until 1945. He remained in the Naval Reserve until 1949.

Hudgins received his Bachelor of Music Education from East Texas State Teachers College, where he was the drum major and a student coach of the boxing team. He received his Master of Education from SFA, became SFA director of bands and was the youngest college band director in the state at the time. Hudgins was honored with induction into the SFA Band Directors’ Hall of Fame and the Texas Bandmasters Hall of Fame. The SFA Twirl-O-Jack Jimmie Hudgins Scholarship was established in his honor.


Lt. Gen. Orren Ray “Cotton” Whiddon

Lt. Gen. Orren Ray “Cotton” Whiddon passed away March 20, 2016. He was born March 10, 1935, in Joaquin, Texas, graduated from SFA in 1955 with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry and earned a Master of Science in management from the University of Southern California. After his SFA graduation, Whiddon was drafted into the U.S. Army and was commissioned a second lieutenant, field artillery.

After serving in key military assessments in the United States, Vietnam and Europe, Whiddon retired in 1990. In recognition of his military service, he was honored with many awards and medals, including the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Medal, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medals and the Army Commendation Medal. He also was authorized to wear the Combat Infantry Badge, Parachutist Badge, Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge and Army General Staff Identification Badge.

As the most senior military officer to graduate from SFA, he was inducted into SFA’s Alumni Hall of Fame in 1988. The cannon fired at SFA home football games is named Ol’ Cotton in his honor.

In Memoriam

Name Class Hometown Date
James Ira Allen Jr. 1977 Atlanta, Texas Nov. 21
Dr. John C. Austin 1952 Kilgore Feb. 16
Bettie J. Barnhart 1962 Central Heights Feb. 28
Dwaine Barthol 1974 Hughes Springs Feb. 19
Marcie D. Brown 1994 Round Rock May 1
Mary J. Brown 1960 Lufkin April 15
June H. Bryant 1964 Tyler March 13
Deidra L. Cagle 1977 Fort Worth Jan. 27
Polly Jennifer Campos 2013 Palestine Feb. 21
Elizabeth “Libby” Horne Capel Friend of SFA Nacogdoches May 3
Pamela L. Chaney 1969 and 1976 Dallas May 7
Dr. Anna Beth Connell Friend of SFA Lufkin April 28
Randall L. Corley Sr. 1970 Marshall May 15
David A. Cruz 2005 Lufkin April 21
Royce Davidson Jr. 1962 DeBerry April 9
David L. Dennard 1954 Dallas Feb. 23
Valerie D. Doshier 2007 Amarillo April 12
Dr. Casey M. Drawert 1995 San Antonio March 11
James Weldon Ecford 2014 Houston April 12
Donald R. Elrod 1961 Fort Worth Jan. 31
Dr. Sue English 1955 Nacogdoches June 13
Robert J. Fisher 2000 Nashville, Tennessee March 28
Michelle A. Garcia 2005 Dallas May 13
Rhonda L. Hampton 2004 and 2006 Pollok Feb. 7
Dr. Harold G. Hill Former faculty member Nacogdoches May 5
Mary C. Hunt 1975 Longview June 18
Warren L. Hunter 1983 Garrison April 18
Barbara A. Jackson Former staff member Lufkin June 17
Martha A. Jones 2000 Albuquerque, New Mexico June 17
Thomas E. Jordan 1957 and 1958 Huntsville June 9
Ret. Sgt. Jimmie Ray Kelly 1978 Midland Dec. 25
Wayne L. Killough Jr. 2015 Palestine April 17
Loy G. Ladd 1954 Humble June 11
Joe B. Lowery 1978 Pollok June 8
Lewis “Darnell” Lynch Friend of SFA San Augustine March 24
Maria del Rosario “Charo” Blazquez MacLean 1995 Kingsland, Georgia Aug. 11, 2015
Dr. James E. Magruder Former faculty member Nacogdoches June 5
Betty M. Marberry 1992 Center June 10
John L. Markham 1968 Arlington March 23
Elizabeth R. Momper 1975 Fort Worth March 15
Joy G. Moncrief 1941 Athens, Georgia May 25
Shannon Wayne Murdock 1996 The Woodlands May 2
Chris C. Noble 2009 Clinton, Mississippi March 10
Alton A. Nutt 1949 and 1953 Carthage April 26
Betty Jean O’Sullivan 1968 and 1984 Baytown Feb. 15
Charles Penney 1954 and 1958 Big Sandy May 14
Ronald E. Pettey 1975 Lufkin March 14
Sarah J. Puett 1982 Madisonville May 14
Barbara Rainey 1977 Kerrville May 22
John W. Rawls 1966 Lufkin May 10
Alan Lee Rose 1985 Flower Mound April 4
Richard Sheridan 1970 and 1977 Marshall Feb. 11
Glenda Mixia (Rudd) Spradley 1952 and 1958 Lufkin March 11
Mary E. Spurlin 1975 Atlanta, Texas Feb. 12
Melissa A. Stephenson 1995 Denton March 15
Shirlene H. Stokes 1979 Henderson Feb. 2
Dorothy L. Swor 1972 and 1987 Lufkin May 30
Don R. Taylor 1971 Greenville, South Carolina June 2
John H. Tigner III 1970 Angleton June 13
Nancy D. Turner 1972 Midlothian March 15
Kathy Underwood 1969 and 1971 Buda April 20
Kristi K. Wendt 1993 Whitehouse May 27
Jeff W. Wilson 1993 Dallas March 11
Robert Youngblood 1957 Bullard May 16