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WWI monument will join campus Memorial Garden

 

By Pat Murdock

University Advancement

10/11/07

 

Thanks to the dedication of a retired faculty member and two Distinguished Alumnus Award recipients, a glaring absence in Texas State University-San Marcos’ Veterans Memorial Garden will be corrected as part of the campus’ 2007 Veterans Day observances on Thursday, Nov. 8.

Retired History Professor Everette Swinney was concerned that students at what was then Southwest Texas State Normal College who were killed in World War I had no memorial in the Veterans Memorial Garden nestled next to Flowers Hall in the central part of campus.  World War II, Korea and Vietnam each have memorials.  But not World War I.

So Ev Swinney, in his usual thorough way, decided to pursue a solution to the problem.  He approached various campus administrators and groups.  Texas State’s new Retired Faculty and Staff Association, which Swinney helped organize, endorsed the project.

But the project would require funding that was not designated. 

So a small Texas State delegation, including Swinney, went to visit Brigadier General Chris Luna of Boerne, a retired US Air Force officer and 1965 Texas State graduate, to elicit his help raising the funds needed to commission the monument. 

It didn’t take long for General Luna to come up with a possible funding source.  He thought about his fellow Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient and former boss, J. Dan Bates of San Antonio, the president of Southwest Research Institute and a 1966 Texas State graduate.

Eager to assist with a project that would pay tribute to World War I veterans, Dan Bates would provide the funding for the memorial as long as it could be dedicated in honor of his father, Jess Bates, a two-time graduate who received his first degree at what is now Texas State in 1935.

The Bates family is the second family to step forward to assure that the university has an appropriate memorial for veterans.

In 2000, the family of the late Lt. Col. Graham G. Kyle funded the move of the collection of war memorials from a location near Old Main to the more visible south side of Flowers Hall.  Kyle’s daughter, Linda Pennington, and her husband Bill, owners of Pennington Funeral Home in San Marcos, and his widow, Doris Kyle, made the relocation possible.  The garden was rededicated in the former SWT AFROTC detachment head’s honor.

The memorials located in the rededicated memorial garden were moved from the location where they had been placed and dedicated on Veterans Day, Nov 11, 1989.  Most of the memorials had been salvaged from construction contractors and pulled together from several locations across campus to an area adjacent to Old Main.  Although the work that led to the creation of the first location was good, the location proved too isolated and hard to reach. 

After Flowers Hall was renovated, the current location was identified as more accessible and the 2000 move occurred.

The new World War I memorial that will join others in the Veterans Memorial Garden bears the names of six students who died in the war, among them the son of  a popular professor.  An excerpt from M. L. Arnold’s poem about the loss of his son Jack in 1918 is featured on the monument. 

Among the other existing memorials in the garden is a bell and marker that had been placed on the quad beside the long gone Lueders Hall (old Liberal Arts Building) and near Old Main.  A new interpretive panel, funded by the Texas State Alumni Association, explaining the history of the College Bell will also be dedicated during the Nov. 8 ceremony.

Other memorials include a large metal plaque bearing the names of 50 former students who were among servicemen killed in World War II that was once displayed on the walls of Evans Auditorium and a Vietnam War memorial funded through the efforts of alumnus Joseph A. Marquez of Carrollton.

The memorial dedication will follow a 10:45 a.m. student Veterans Day ceremony on the Quad near the Huntington Stallions.   Both the 10:45 and 11:30 a.m. programs will feature brief remarks by Texas State President Denise Trauth and Associate Student Government President Reagan Pugh.  General Luna will speak at the 11:30 a.m. ceremony.  

The public is invited to both programs.  For more information, call (512) 245-2396.