Ken Murray, a 1966 graduate of Schreiner Institute, will be inducted into the Schreiner University Athletic Hall of Honor during Recall 2017 in April.
While a student at Schreiner, Murray served as trainer for the Mountaineer athletic teams, foreshadowing a notable career in the same field. For 17 years he served at Texas Tech University’s head athletic trainer, then another seven years as an administrator in Tech’s athletics department. He was inducted to the National Athletic Trainers Association Hall of Fame in 1993, and in 2015 he was inducted into both the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame and the Texas Tech Hall of Honor.
Murray was a pioneer in athletic training, developing a program that went beyond physical training and treating injuries, but also cared for their emotional, mental and social health. His was the first program of its kind recognized by the National Athletic Trainers Association as a curriculum for future athletic trainers.
He was also good one-on-one with his clients and co-workers. “Ken has a very unique ability to connect with people at their core,” says Grant Stovall, associate athletics director for sports medicine at Texas Tech. “He takes the time to get to know you as a person first, regardless of your title or status. He truly cares about people, and would do anything to help in any situation.”
Murray grew up in Africa, the son of Presbyterian mission workers in the Congo. When the political situation there grew dangerous in 1959, the family was evacuated to Austin, where he finished high school.
“I played football my junior year, but was injured and had to quit,” says Murray. “The coach asked me to be the team’s trainer. I enjoyed it and decided that would be a good way to work my way through college.”
Although his father and Schreiner President Andrew Edington were good friends, the Kerrville-based junior college was not Murray’s immediate choice. An athletic equipment salesman who came to his high school told him that Schreiner coach S. M. Meeks was looking for a trainer.
“He called Coach Meeks and started the conversation,” recalls Murray. “Dr. Edington and my dad probably got involved too.”
He communicated with Coach Meeks, and two weeks before the start of the 1963 fall semester, was at Schreiner, getting equipment ready for the start of the high school football season.
Being the trainer at Schreiner in the mid-60s involved many tasks. In addition to tending to injuries, Murray did laundry, swept the gym, drove the bus to away games and meets, and put the starting players’ names on the wall for basketball games. “It was pretty much doing anything and everything that anyone on campus needed. I even babysat for faculty members,” says Murray.
“I had a ball and enjoyed every minute of it,” he adds. “We were like family. The faculty ate and lived with us. They were very caring.”
Dick Harben was Schreiner’s basketball coach then, and remembers that Murray “was always a very happy young man, who worked hard and was trustworthy. He set an excellent example to the other young men through his honesty and diligence.”
In 1965 Murray received the President’s Medal for being Schreiner’s best citizen. Dr. Edington also gave him something special upon his graduation in 1966.
“I had been accepted at the University of Texas and would be working as a trainer for the athletics program. Dr. Edington called me into his office and gave me an envelope, saying ‘thank you’ for what I had done for Schreiner. Inside there was $300 in cash—plenty of money to get through my first semester at UT.
“He did it quietly—I don’t think he wanted anyone to know—but he wanted to help me get started.”
At UT he worked for Longhorn athletic trainer Frank Medina, who is widely respected in the profession for his innovations, including off-season programs to help athletes stay in shape year-round. Murray remembers meeting actor John Wayne when the Longhorns hosted Southern California in football his junior year.
For several summers, Murray worked at the Atlanta Falcons training camp in North Carolina. Besides the experience, it gave him the opportunity to date Lenore Saunders, also a missionary kid, whom he had met in Africa. During the rest of the year, theirs was a long-distance relationship, aided in the start by the fact that Coach Dick Harben let him talk with Lenore on the Harbens’ phone in lieu of paying him to babysit. Ken and Lenore married in 1968.
Murray earned a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education from UT in 1968, then a master’s degree from Eastern Tennessee State University. He was head athletic trainer and taught physical education at Eastern Kentucky University for seven years, then the University of Southwest Louisiana for two years before joining the Texas Tech athletic staff in 1978. Between his two tenures at Texas Tech, he was director of sports medicine at Covenant Hospital in Lubbock.
Working with athletes was very satisfying, says Murray of his life’s work. “When the players came back after an injury, and performed well, that was rewarding and exciting. I enjoyed working with the pros, but I felt like I could influence the lives of young men who were away from home for the first time. I helped with a lot of personal problems in addition to their physical problems. That was personally very worthwhile.”
“I’ve always felt that if it wasn’t for Schreiner, none of what I have been able to achieve would have been possible,” he adds. “It got me through, it got me started, it was the foundation that I have been able to build my life on.”
In retirement, the Murrays live at Possum Kingdom Lake in North Texas. Their eldest son, Col. Clinton K. Murray, is doctor with the U.S. Army Medical Corps in San Antonio. He and his wife, LeeAnn, have two daughters, Callie and Sidney. Their younger son, Jon, is an athletic trainer, now working for a doctors group in Lubbock. He and his wife, Karie, have two daughters, Kara and Emery.
Also see: Past Athletic Hall of Honor
Michael Pate, a member of the Class of 1971 living in Arlington, Va., has been elected a distinguished alumnus of Schreiner University. He will be installed during the annual Recall reunion in April.
Pate retired in 2016 from the Bracewell legal firm in Washington, D.C., where he had worked since 1986, primarily in the legislative arena, specializing in tax, energy and corporate issues. He was managing partner from 1997 to 2010.
He moved from Texas to the nation’s capital in 1979 to become U.S. Sen. Lloyd Bentsen’s legislative director. Prior to that he had served as a legal counsel to Texas Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby, and worked for Texas state senator Max Sherman, a former Schreiner trustee.
A former Schreiner faculty member living in Haltom City recruited Pate and 11 other Richland High School students to attend Schreiner over a two-year span.
With academic scholarship in hand, the tall, lanky freshman moved into Flato Hall (with the other Richland High grads) in fall 1969 and entered campus life. “It was a lot of fun having your high school friends around,” he remembers.
Pate made the basketball team, and became active in academics and extracurricular activities. “The professors were fantastic,” he says, citing archaeology field trips with Harry Crate, calculus class with Dean Truman Hildebrand, and Sunday afternoon discussions at English professor Pete Hallman’s home.
As a freshman, Pate also became involved in an activity that provided a foretaste of his career. Schreiner President Andrew Edington selected a group of students to develop “affirmative and constructive ideas which would reflect some of the views of conscientious young people examining world problems,” reads a Kerrville Daily Times report.
Pate was selected with two others to go to Washington, D.C., in the spring of 1970. They met with U.S. Rep. O. C. Fisher, whose district included Kerrville, and toured the capital city. Their host was the Rev. Dr. Edward Bauman, senior pastor of Foundry United Methodist Church. Dr. Bauman was a prominent Bible scholar, whom Edington had brought to Schreiner to lecture.
While at Schreiner, Pate determined that he wanted to attend law school. After serving as student senate president his second year, he collected his associate’s degree and enrolled at Texas Wesleyan University with a basketball scholarship. He graduated as salutatorian from TWU in 1973, and enrolled in the University of Texas School of Law.
At TWU he worked for the Internal Revenue Service during the summers, and that experience steered his interest toward tax law. A similar experience while in law school, however, altered his career course.
“During law school, I worked for state senator Max Sherman, a former Schreiner trustee,” says Pate. “I really enjoyed working with Max. He made it fun, interesting and exciting to be able to participate in the making public policy.”
He also met his wife Barbara while in law school. She is also an attorney and they work on similar issues. In May they will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.
“I not only met the woman I love, but I also got to have my best friend as my partner,” he says.
Following graduation from law school in 1975, he was Sherman’s chief of staff and counsel to the State Senate’s Natural Resources Committee. He then moved to Lt. Gov. Bill Hobby’s staff.
“It was pretty exciting for a 25-year-old to rub shoulders with some of the best and brightest political people in the state of Texas.”
Moving to Washington to work for Sen. Bentsen opened his experience to political and business leaders at the national level.
“I worked for three great Texas politicians, and I learned a lot from all three,” says Pate.
Those experiences served Pate well in his successful 31-year career at the Bracewell firm. Best Lawyers in America annually since 2008 selected him as one of the nation’s top attorneys in government relations, and American Lawyer Media and Martindale-Hubbell named him a top-rated lawyer in taxation law for 2013.
In 1999 he was elected to the Schreiner board of trustees and served as chairman from 2011 to 2015. Between his board service and his two years as a student, he has had contact with five of the universities six presidents: Dr. Edington and Dr. Sam Junkin as a student; Dr. J. Thompson Biggers, Dr. Junkin (as interim president), Dr. Tim Summerlin, and Dr. Charlie McCormick as a trustee.
Dr. Summerlin, whose service at Schreiner overlapped most of Pate’s time as a trustee, says “I have been greatly blessed as a result of his service. Mike loves Schreiner, and he was excited to be asked to serve on the board. He will be the first to tell you that he was a bit dismayed by the financial issues he encountered at first. But being Mike Pate, he never hesitated to work hard and give generously, and to provide sound guidance to help the university through the adversity at the beginning of the new century.”
Pate’s broad contact with Schreiner’s executive leadership also gives him knowledge of the university’s history and a unique perspective on its future.
“I’m looking forward to the 100th anniversary of Schreiner University,” he says. “We have a lot of great challenges ahead, and I’m excited about where Dr. McCormick is going to lead us in the future.”
Richard E. Cree, a 1967 graduate of Schreiner’s high school program and the founder of several successful telecommunication and banking companies, has been selected as a distinguished alumnus. He will be inducted during the 2017 Recall reunion in April.
Cree, who lives in Dallas, is managing partner of Cree Oil Properties—which has been in the Cree family for four generations—and of Renewable Texas Energy, a company primarily located in China.
He has built and managed both private and public companies involved in banking, commercial real estate, automotive, oil and gas, and telecommunications. Cree’s business resume includes:
Cree is in his second term on the Schreiner University Board of Trustees. He also served on the board of the Cowboy Artists of America Museum, and the Mid-Cities Chapter of the Texas Association of Business.
A native of Pampa in the Texas Panhandle, he was supposed to attend the ninth grade at Schreiner, then transfer to New Mexico Military Institute, from which his father had graduated. “I didn’t want to go to NMMI, so the folks there recommended I attend a year of school at Schreiner, then transfer,” says Cree.
But Cree found Schreiner to his liking, and did not transfer after his freshman year.
His class was about 30 boys, so they all knew each other pretty well fairly soon. “There was a lot camaraderie,” he remembers. “At that age, 13 or so, it was a foreign place, but we were all thrown in the same bucket together. We relied on each other, we had a lot of friendships, we grew up a lot together. It was a pretty good crew.”
He credits English teacher Zelma Hardy with a lesson that he carried into his business career. She told students to pretend that their writing assignments were due a week earlier than assigned. “She advised that we finish it, then put it in a drawer and forget about it until the day before it was actually due, and then take it out and see if we still thought it was good enough to hand in.”
“As CEO of a growing high tech company, I had to write and deliver literally hundreds of speeches,” says Cree. “The lesson that Zelma Hardy taught me has been a key to my ability to write and speak successfully, whatever the situation.”
Schreiner instructors also taught Cree and his classmates “the art of growing up.”
“Dick Harben was quite a mentor to the kids,” he says. “I remember him telling me, ‘Rick, you are going through quite a bit of hormonal change. Get your attention back here as quick as you can.’”
Away from home for the first time, Cree developed a sense of independence as a result of his time at Schreiner.
“I don’t think my parents would have agreed to me hitchhiking to San Antonio on a Sunday afternoon to go to the show with a girl from St. Mary’s Hall who I had met at a Schreiner dance. In those days, all you had to do was put on your cadet uniform, get out on the highway, put your thumb out and you could get a ride.”
“I had a Sunday afternoon date with a pretty girl, and I was highly motivated.”
Cree left Schreiner his junior year to study in Spain through a program being pioneered by Phillips Academy and other prestigious private schools, but he returned for his senior year.
During his senior year, Dean William Weir took a personal interest in deciding the young man’s future. “He took a lead in all my college applications with a specific focus on Southern Methodist University. I don’t think I even saw my application. He thought it was best for me.”
Cree enrolled at SMU and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
In addition to his service on the Schreiner board of trustees, Cree was chairman of a capital campaign that raised the money for construction of Mountaineer Fitness Center, which includes fitness facilities, recreation offices, academic classes, athletic offices, and health and wellness services.
The Cree family also donated the George and Frances Cree Tennis Complex, which opened in February 2009, in memory of his parents. “We played tennis as a family and had a lot of great times,” he says.
He was not the only family member to attend Schreiner. An older brother, George, completed junior college here in 1965 and now lives in Amarillo. His twin brother, Hal, entered high school at Schreiner with Richard, but finished his senior year at another high school. Hal now lives in Pampa.
Cree met his wife, Anne—who is also a telecommunications executive--at a corporate function in Los Angeles. They married and she moved to Dallas, still working for the same company. His son, R. J. Cree—now CEO of Cree Oil Properties—also lives in in Dallas with his wife, Karin, and two children.
Also see: Past Distinguished Alumni
Meleah “Lea” (Sielbold) Nye, Class of 1992, will receive the Schreiner Former Student’s Association Distinguished Service Award during Recall 2017 in April.
Nye became involved in the alumni organization almost immediate after graduation. She has served as president, vice president and secretary, and helped lead the SFSA through changes to make it a more active and effective body.
“She’s pro-actively generous, a very good organizer, and has skills that helped the SFSA board take us to the next level,” says Paul Camfield, Schreiner’s associate director for Alumni Affairs. “She’s spent many hours working for SFSA, and has shown a phenomenal amount of dedication to it.”
A San Antonio native, Nye says she ended up a Schreiner because her father bought a goat ranch outside of Fredericksburg when she was in middle school. “It was scrub brush and rocky, and I hated it,” she says. But that feeling changed.
The family built a small cabin, and used it as their getaway from the city. “I began to appreciate the beauty of the country,” says Nye. “I saw the beautiful spring wildflowers and the trees turn green in the spring, and I fell in love with it.”
Family excursions from the goat ranch included sightseeing in Kerrville. By the time she graduated from high school, she knew she wanted to go to school in the Hill Country.
“I was an A-minus student in high school,” says Nye. “Not overly active, I never thrived, but I never faltered. I knew I wanted to attend a small college, and had narrowed it down to Schreiner and TLU. The Hill Country won out.”
After applying to Schreiner she, was offered a financial aid package that made the cost comparable to a public college. “So off I went.”
Nye was a math major working on her teaching certification. Her academic career at Schreiner went well until her senior year, when she was assigned to do her student teaching at Smithson Valley. “It was a lot of work and a fairly long drive back and forth,” she says.
Her final math class that year was with the late Dr. Maury Evans. The class conflicted with the student teaching, but Dr. Evans made it work. “He said he knew my character and he trusted me. I could work the assigned problems, teach myself, and go see him when I needed help. He showed me a great kindness.”
The student teaching turned out to be more work than she had anticipated. “I thought I was doing well with his math class, but I really wasn’t.”
“Time came for the mid-term exam, which he left for me in the library,” she recalls. “I arrived in the early evening after teaching all day. I looked at the test and it could have been written in Japanese. I went completely blank. I stared at it for 30 minutes. It was horrible. The test represented a large percentage of my grade.”
Finally, she used the library phone to call Dr. Evans. He was having supper, but calmly assured Nye things would be OK. “He said, “Don’t worry about it. I know you. Go home and we’ll do it another day.”
She and Dr. Evans sat down together shortly thereafter and he went through the test with her, and she passed.
“That could not have happened at any other place but Schreiner,” says Nye. “He was straight-laced and dry—and probably not everyone’s favorite—but he is special in my heart. He saved me.”
The semester after she graduated—and started teaching school—Nye came back to the campus and said, “What do you need from me.”
“I had received a scholarship to attend Schreiner—and later received a Hatton Sumner scholarship. People provided for me. I learned at Schreiner that you give what you get. I immediately wanted to be involved.”
Among other activities, she helped with the Expanding Your Horizons program, encouraging middle school girls to become interested in science and math majors.
Her activity with the SFSA resulted in an unexpected romantic bonus. Kyle Nye, a 1994 Schreiner grad, was asked by his former roommate, Rian Dill, to help with the alumni association, so Kyle and Lea came to know each other through their SFSA work. “We saw each other maybe two times a year,” she says.
She finds it ironic that they had not met while students. “Our time at Schreiner overlapped. We had the same friends, attended the same parties, but never met,” she says. “That’s almost impossible. I thought I knew everybody on campus.”
Kyle was working and living in El Paso, when his company sent him unexpectedly to San Antonio to handle a problem. He needed to get an apartment quickly and didn’t know the city, so--from their SFSA connection-- he thought of Lea. She helped him get settled and he offered to take her to dinner as a “thank you” gesture.
“We consider that our first date,” she says. “We dated, and were engaged in a year. When they married, they gave out copies of Don Hedgepeth’s Schreiner history, Proud Promise, to the wedding party composed mostly of Schreiner friends.
After teaching a couple of years, she worked at San Antonio’s Methodist Hospital, keeping statistics for the bone marrow transplant program. After that, she worked for AT&T, first as an analyst, and then in executive compensation, designing employee salary and benefit packages.
When the Nyes started having children, sons Sam and Wesley, she and Kyle agreed that she would become a stay-at-home mother until the youngest was 10. That milestone has recently passed, and she intends to go back to work part-time.
The decision to step out of the workforce--“thanks to Kyle,” she notes--also benefitted SFSA. The decade dedicated to raising her boys also has been the period Nye has lead the association through some major changes
After studying alumni programs at other universities and colleges, the SFSA board decided to abandon the payment of annual membership dues for a program that makes all former students members of the association at no cost. Also, the university took over the cost for the annual Recall homecoming, allowing the SFSA to concentrate on creating scholarships and other special programs.
“I think the Former Students Association is much stronger now,” says Nye. “We’re more collaborative, and able to focus our attention on what the school needs as opposed to what the association needs. I’m very proud to be a part of the transition.”
She says one of her biggest joys was when she and Kyle were able to endow a scholarship. “Because of that, I know that someone else is receiving the same benefit that I once received.” In 2010, Nye was asked to be part of the Schreiner University Board of Trustees, and currently serves Schreiner in that capacity.
“Schreiner is still my happy place,” says Nye. “We go there whenever we can.”
Also see: Past Distinguished Alumni