– 2018 –
Frank W. Denius ‘42
To say Athens, Texas native Frank Denius (1925-2018) lived an honorable and distinguished life would be an understatement.
One of America’s most highly decorated veterans of World War II, receiving four Silver Stars and two Purple Hearts, Denius returned home and distinguished himself at the University of Texas at Austin. He earned his law degree in 1949 and soon developed a reputation as one of Texas’ top lawyers and civic leaders. He was a notable advocate and benefactor of his alma mater, and was instrumental in the development of the UT Dell Medical School.
But before his illustrious military service, before making Austin his home and establishing himself as a Longhorn legend, before embarking on a long career in law and becoming a major supporter of UT Austin and many other notable causes, Denius was a Schreiner student.
Denius arrived in Kerrville to enroll in Schreiner Institute in 1938. He remembers that the “rules were definite, and the discipline was demanding.” According to Denius Schreiner taught him “discipline, how to study and I learned people.” He remembered fondly the close fellowship among and between fellow cadets. Two of his fondest memories were beating Kilgore Junior College in Football for the championship in 1940 and “carrying the colors in the Battle of Flowers parade in San Antonio on San Jacinto Day.”
Another day etched in Denius’ mind was Pearl Harbor Day. All cadets were immediately summoned to campus. Denius remembered that “our rifles, bayonets, two machine guns, and one thirty-seven millimeter cannon” were gathered and sent to Fort Sam Houston.
Denius said, “Military training and the discipline that went with it became part of my life. Ever since I went to Schreiner, I’ve tried to do my best at whatever I’ve taken on.” His time at Schreiner laid the foundation for what would be an honorable and distinguished life.
Denius was recognized as a UT Distinguished Alumnus in 1991, and in 2017 received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Texas Law Alumni Association. He has numerous honors and accolades from professional organizations and publications to honor his long and distinguished career.
SFSA Distinguished Service Award
– 2017 –
Meleah “Lea” (Sielbold) Nye ’92
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.”
2017 Distinguished Alumnus
Michael Pate ’71
Richard E. Cree ’67
2016 Distinguished Alumnus
Dr. Marvin Singleton, ’60
2015 Distinguished Alumnus
David G. Barker ’64
Harris J. Pappas ’60
2014 Distinguished Alumnus
Dr. William B. Campbell ’40
H. W. “Win” Thurber III ’63
2013 Distinguished Alumnus
Dr. Frank W. Sheppard Jr. ’39
2012 Distinguished Alumnus
Roy Quillin Minton
2011 Distinguished Alumnus
Royce Faulkner ’49
Jerry E. (Gene) Marshall ’52
2010 Distinguished Alumnus
Dr. Samuel W. T. Lanham III ’51
Jack Marion Stevens ’43
2009 Distinguished Alumnus
Norman Hoffman ’37
Dr. Charles Johnson ’58
2008 Distinguished Alumnus
Robert Barton ’56
Grady Spencer Blocker ’51
2007 Distinguished Alumnus
Theo Blue ’51
Dr. Richard Marrs ’68
2006 Distinguished Alumnus
Peter Baldwin ’47
Wendell Mayes Jr. ’42
2005 Distinguished Alumnus
Dr. Tom Pruett ’50
2004 Distinguished Alumnus
Martin L. Allday ’44
John L. Kammerdiener ’57
2003 Distinguished Alumnus
Dr. Sam McDowell Junkin ’51
James B. Cain ’41
Other Distinguished Alumnus
Raymond Berry ’51
N. F. Chapman Jr. ’28
Dr. Wilson Elkins ’28
Hugh H. Goerner ’41
Frank N. Ikard ’31
Charles Johnston ’32
Park L. Myers ’35
James E. Nugent ’41
Dr. Russell Scott Jr. ’43
Joe C. Walter Jr. ’45