SHSU President takes part in Distinguished Alumni Gala

The first distinguished alumnus to receive his award was Ed Compton IV, class of 1994 and 1995. He was honored due to his outstanding accomplishment of taking a tiny business and turning it into a large, successful, fleet vehicle business, known today as Professional Fleet Services. He was inspired to be an entrepreneur ever since he was a child, running a two-employee local lawn care business. He has also served the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo for over ten years, and is an active member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity and the Order of Omega. As he accepted his award, he thanked his Fraternity, his family, and all of his advisors and teachers at Sam.

Next up was Ronny Carroll, a first-generation college student who came to SHSU on a football and baseball scholarship. He graduated with a business degree in 1965, and soon after spent a year in Vietnam as an Army Captain. After the army, Carroll became one of Houston’s most decorated home builders, winning several awards in the early 2000s. Ronny Carroll is a Past President of the SHSU Alumni Board of Directors, and also a member of Sigma Chi Fraternity. The Port Naches native said of SHSU, “I learned how to live, how to deal with people, how to do the right thing”. He thanked his wife Faye and his son Ronny Jr. for their support, as well as all of his professors.

Following Mr. Carroll was Tommy Frank, a man who worked his way up from Delivery Truck Driver to CEO and Chairman of Conn’s Inc., the Beaumont appliance store chain. He started as a teenager, driving trucks, but then went to college to become an Industrial Arts teacher. All through college he worked at Conn’s, slowing rising to the top, and graduating from SHSU in 1963. He was named CEO in 1994, and was instrumental in tripling the number of stores, starting the Credit and Service Departments, and taking the company places it had never been.

“I define success by the amount of good I was able to achieve,” said Frank, who recently retired from Conn’s after 50 years.

Before he retired, employees raised $60,000 to create a scholarship in his honor, and he matched the figure as soon as he heard it. Frank was also a first generation college student, and thanked his wife and son, Pat and Tim, and Dr. Bill Nyland, his mentor for their support.

The next to take the stage was Colonel Jerry Marshall, a 1964 graduate of SHSU and retired Air Force Colonel, who has flown 120 combat missions and logged over 5,000 flight hours. He is very decorated, having received such honors as the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal. Marshall was honored as a distinguished alumnus because of his efforts to improve the 911 emergency system of Bexar county and the surrounding metropolitan areas of San Antonio. He eventually became the Executive Director, and made the 911 system a top of the line, first class program. Jerry Marshall thanked his wife Ann for her support through the years.

Last to receive his award was Ed Reyna, a Criminal Justice major from the class of ’71. Reyna was recognized for his outstanding 35 years of service to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, and for being one of the first probation officers to implement pretrial services for the Federal Court system. He took his leadership position and revolutionized the pretrial arena, creating and applying several new practices and programs that are still in use today. Though now retired, he used to offer free mediation services to those that could not afford it, and taught English to Third World refugees.

“I stand before you humbled and honored, as the 152nd recipient of this award,” said Reyna as he took the podium.

Ed Reyna then became too emotional to continue, and was only able to resume his speech after the applause of his fellow alumni. He then tearfully thanked his wife Carla and their three children, his brothers in Sigma Chi, and his High School Counselor, who encouraged him to go to vocational school rather than college. Reyna joked that he must have been an SFA graduate, which sparked much laughter in the crowd. He then ended his speech with an emotional, “My success, is your success.”

MC Ray Burgess took the podium again to offer some more comedic relief, and congratulate all the distinguished alumni present. The guests then toasted the five men honored that night, and were all surprised by the Bearkat Marching Band entering the Ballroom in full regalia, playing the fight song. Everyone in the room clapped along, and a few even danced. The night was ended when the Alma Mater was then sung by all, led by the BMB.

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