Several Nacogdoches residents will be honored during the annual Gala presented by Stephen F. Austin State University on Saturday, Dec. 11, in the Grand Ballroom of the Baker Pattillo Student Center.
Bill and Barbara Gandy, Joe Max and Jane Green, and Ray and the late Gayla Mize are among those to be honored, along with the Beaumont Foundation of America.
Bill Gandy graduated from Nacogdoches High School and SFA before attending Baylor College of Dentistry, where he met Barbara, an Abilene native pursuing a bachelor's degree in dental hygiene. Following their graduation, the Gandys moved to Nacogdoches, where Bill began his dental practice. He has been practicing dentistry for 37 years.
Barbara, a sales agent at Alamo Realty, has worked on many projects involving the preservation of downtown Nacogdoches. She is a founding member of the Nacogdoches Junior Forum and has served as president of the Nacogdoches Main Street Board and the SFA Friends of Music. She is a member of the Heritage Study Club and the Four Seasons Garden Club and served on the Nacogdoches Historical Foundation Board.
Bill is a member of the Nacogdoches Booster Club, the SFA Alumni Association and the Pineywoods Dental Study Club. He is an avid supporter of SFA athletics and the SFASU Foundation. He served as chairman of the Foundation board from 2006 until April 2010.
"Dr. Gandy has been a valuable supporter of our pre-health professional program," said Dr. Kevin Langford, director of the program at SFA. "He has helped us raise funds for equipment, and we have a stronger program because of the Gandys' assistance."
The Gandys are members of First Christian Church and the Heritage Heralds, and they are the parents of Julie Geter of Lake Jackson and Dr. Leslie Wayne of Dallas.
Joe Max Green and his wife, Jane, both graduated from high school in Tyler. Joe Max graduated from SFA with a Bachelor of Business Administration and is regional chairman of Joe Max Green Insurance Concepts/BancorpSouth Insurance Services. Jane serves as vice president of operations and automation.
Joe Max is a former member and chairman of the SFA Board of Regents and has served on the executive committee of the Nacogdoches Economic Development Corporation. He is a member of the Nacogdoches Rotary Club and the Nacogdoches Booster Club. He is a recipient of the Rotary Club's Paul Harris Fellowship Award, the SFA Distinguished Alumni Award and has been inducted into the SFA University Hall of Honor.
Jane was the first recipient for Excellence by Delphi Users Group. She is a member of Cigna's President's Circle Technology Council and a past board member of the Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development, a global organization working to facilitate the development of open data standards and standard forms in the insurance industry.
Robert Hill, director of athletics at SFA, said the support that the Greens have shown to the university has been unwavering.
"I can't say how many times I've looked up to see Joe Max sitting in the stands and rooting for the Lumberjacks at locations all over the country," Hill said. "Joe Max and Jane Green have made a significant impact on our intercollegiate athletic program, and their generosity has helped us become the top program in the Southland Conference." The Greens are members of the First Baptist Church and have been named Citizen of the Year by the Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce. They are the parents of Julie Green of Kansas City, Kan., and John Green of Nacogdoches.
Ray Mize, a Nacogdoches native, attended the Nacogdoches Demonstration School on the SFA campus and later graduated from the university with a bachelor's degree in business. He married Gayla Johnson Mize, another Nacogdoches native, in 1973. The Mizes operated Mize Ranches and have been active members of the First United Methodist Church in Nacogdoches. They were instrumental in the completion of the Plaza Principal project to beautify downtown Nacogdoches and spent many hours selling and placing bricks, establishing statuary and planting shrubs and gardens in the area.
Gayla, a Master Gardener, was honored by the City of Nacogdoches for her dedication to the beautification of Nacogdoches. In 2000, she received the Outstanding Community Service Award presented by the American Association of University Women. Gayla passed away on Feb. 22, 2009.
Ray serves on the Texas Soil and Water Conservation Board representing Nacogdoches and worked with his wife and his cousin, Dorothy Wisely, to establish the Ruby Mize Azalea Garden at SFA.
"Ray and Gayla Mize were a special part of making SFA's garden world such a big success," said Dr. David Creech, SFA Gardens director. "Both were here when there was no staff, no tractors, no budget and no credibility - just a small patch of ground with a few students, wheelbarrows, shovels and a few energetic folks trying to make a bigger garden. Ray and Gayla loved being part of this gardening adventure, and they both shared the vision that Nacogdoches and SFA would someday be a great garden spot in the Deep South."
The Mizes are the parents of Lysa Hagan and Jimmy Mize, both of Nacogdoches.
The Beaumont Foundation, created in 2001, is a nonprofit institution dedicated to enriching the lives and enhancing the futures of less fortunate children, families and the elderly. The foundation provides grants and scholarships to charitable, religious and educational organizations that seek to improve lives by providing people with the tools to become educated, health conscious and self-reliant. Gilbert I. "Buddy" Low, an SFA alumnus, serves on the foundation's board of directors. Low graduated with highest honors from the University of Texas School of Law and is a partner with Orgain Bell & Tucker.
The faculty achievement awards presented during the ceremony recognize innovation and excellence in teaching and research. Dr. I-Kuai Hung is the recipient of the Faculty Achievement Award for Teaching, and Dr. Gregory Miller is the recipient of the Faculty Achievement Award for Research.
The Gala opening reception begins at 6 p.m. and will be followed by a candlelight dinner at 7 p.m. Entertainment will be provided by the Tom Houston Combo and by Dallas-based entertainers TOP, playing a variety of smooth jazz, Motown, disco, oldies and today's hits.
Tickets are $165 for orchestra seating and $115 for ballroom seating. Proceeds from the Gala help build a permanent endowment created by the SFA Foundation to honor faculty achievement.
For more information or to purchase tickets, call (936) 468-5406.