Feature: ‘New Face of TMI’
When TMI went coed – and Why
Pictured Above: TMI, then in Alamo Heights, first accepted girls in 1972 and went military-optional in 1974. The changes attracted more applicants as the school kept up with larger social trends. Here, seniors at the Alamo Heights campus show off different ways to attend TMI.
March is Women’s History Month…and TMI is part of it!
For nearly eight decades, TMI was an all-boys school. In fact, its first name at its founding in 1893 was the West Texas School for Boys (later West Texas Military Academy). It was also an all-military school for all those years. During the late 1960s and ‘70s, military schools became less popular, and more than 50 nationwide closed or dropped their military programs.
At the same time, the women’s movement was promoting inclusion, and formerly all-male schools and colleges went coed, including Texas A&M University, and Allen Academy, as well as Ivy League universities and New England prep schools. Meanwhile, TMI rival Peacock Academy, which stayed all-male and all-military, closed its doors for good in May 1972, a casualty of dwindling enrollment.READ MORE
Meanwhile at TMI, the student editors of the 1971 yearbook included ‘an imaginative picture of the future” that included civilian clothes, “young teachers” and even girls. According to the Editor’s Note, the headmaster called it “an impossibility.” In fact, this imaginative picture was about to become a reality.
Less than a year later, TMI’s board announced in March 1972 that the school would extend the opportunity for an excellent education to girls as well as boys, starting in the fall of 1972 with its first 38 female students across class years, including new coed seventh- and eighth-grade classes in cooperation with St. Luke’s Episcopal School. Girls had attended TMI summer-school classes, and girls from area high schools had served as TMI cheerleaders, but these were the first full-time, diploma-bound female students.
The late Robert M. Ayres Jr. ‘44, then chairman of TMI’s board, said in a 2008 oral-history interview that, “On the subject of the admission of girls, (the board) began to consider that if TMI was the fine school we thought it was, that this school should be available to the women in our diocese as well as to young men. Also, we felt it would do a great deal for our enrollment, and it would be more appealing for the young men as well. (Coeducation) was a more balanced program for the future for our students (because it is) good preparation for the young men and young women to have the opportunity to work together in an academic setting. We also knew that Saint Mary’s Hall was going to admit young men, which would mean even more competition for TMI, so going coeducational was a smart move for us at that time.”
The first day of school at a coeducational TMI was Aug. 27, 1972. Unlike their male counterparts ー all cadets and all dressed in starched khakis ー the first TMI girls didn’t wear uniforms because their newly designed outfits weren’t ready yet, according to a report in the San Antonio Light, headlined “New face of TMI,” Aug. 28, 1972. Connie McCombs (later Connie McCombs McNab ’74) was optimistic: “It’s easier just to get up in the morning and put (a uniform) on than to have to decide what to wear,” she told the reporter.
When interviewed in 2008 for a TMI oral-history project, Connie said her family sent her to TMI to get the best education available in San Antonio. Another original coed, Katie Wright ’73, also focused on academics: “Some of the cadets are OK, some are nice ー I haven’t paid much attention to them,” she told the Light reporter. “I plan on just going to school.” From the boys’ perspective, Don Stewart ’73 commented that the newcomers to campus “will sure improve the social life” of the school, and Bob Boerner ’73 “was optimistic about the improvement of the dating situation.”
More female students were added slowly over the next few years, and girls would be allowed to join the Corps of Cadets in the second year of coeducation. Susan Mengden ‘76 became the first female cadet officer; her parents sent her and her sister Cathy Mengden Dohnalek ’79 to TMI to follow in the footsteps of their brother Michael Mengden ‘74. “They believed in TMI and wanted to give us all the best education they could,” Cathy told an earlier version of TMI Today, Winter 2010.
“The population of young women grew gradually,” Mr. Ayres said. “They entered as civilians, but we were going to open (the military program) for young women to be in the Corps if they wanted. As the number of women increased, there was additional income coming into the school.”
Dru Van Steenberg ‘78 was one of the first female four-year graduates of TMI. For high school, she said in a 2008 interview, “My choices were Saint Mary’s Hall, Incarnate Word or TMI.” Her brother Nicholas N. Van Steenberg II ‘78 ー now the parent of Nicholas A. Van Steenberg ‘20 ー was already a TMI student “and he would come home with the most fun stories. He loved TMI so much, the professors and the military and everything about it.” Before school started in 1974, Amy Waller Hill ‘77 “came over to my house and spent an afternoon with me, asking me to be in the military,” and Lisa Donovan Halfmann ‘77 invited her to a party at her house for the incoming freshman girls, “so I felt I knew people and I knew what I was getting into.” It was a comfortable situation, even though there were only 13 girls in her class year, and Dru was sometimes the only female student in some of her classes.
In 1974, the school made the decision to go military-optional, so that all TMI students were able to choose whether to attend as cadets. The all-volunteer Corps of Cadets has earned the Honor Unit with Distinction designation ー the highest awarded by Army JROTC ー every year since 1994. Last year’s BC, Mary Warder ‘20, is a first-year student at West Point.
Since the early years of coeducation, female students have earned every honor TMI bestows ー Battalion Commander, graduation class speaker, student government offices, dorm prefects and recipients of merit awards such as the Alkek and Taylor scholarships. Currently, 188 girls attend TMI; among them are cadet officers, members of Student Parliament, National Honor Society members, outstanding athletes and peer mentors. Their presence helps keep TMI thriving.
Stars Over TMI 2021
Hope you’ll be joining us for Stars Over TMI: A Celebration of the Best and the Brightest gala and auction Saturday, April 10, at La Cantera Resort and Spa!
And before the event…get ready for the Stars Over TMI online auction that will go live Thursday, April 1, at 8 a.m. here and will end Thursday, April 8, at 5 p.m. Our volunteer committee has been hard at work collecting some incredible items, including a one-of-a-kind artwork depicting the TMI shield in stained glass by TMI Fine Arts teacher Mark Harrison and his son, Nathan Harrison ’21. No need to be present to bid and win!
There’s also a Stars raffle for a grand prize “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and an Early Bird Prize, a two-night stay at Hotel Emma ー tickets purchased before April 10 will be entered into both drawings. Tickets are $100; only 150 will be sold. No need to be present to win…purchase while supplies last at www.tmi-sa.org/stars2021
For Stars questions, call (210) 564-6245 or email email@example.com.
While we are tracking an in-person event, we are continually evaluating the COVID-19 situation and will adjust the format and protocols of Stars Over TMI as needed.
Alumni Day ー Together Again!
We’re delighted to announce the first in-person TMI alumni event in more than a year ー Alumni Day on Friday, April 30!
Gather your classmates to reconnect and reminisce ー milestone classes will receive special recognition! It’s a day to celebrate TMI traditions and alumni contributions; enjoy as many of the activities as you like!
Schedule of Festivities
Alumni Check-in ー 2:30 p.m., alumni tent on Howell Field
Final Pass in Review ー 2:40-3:30 p.m., Howell Field
Campus Tours and Leadership Meet and Greet ー 3:45-4:45 p.m. – Meet Dean of Innovation and tour Walker Innovation Center – Meet Director of Athletics and tour Frost Athletic Center – Meet Commandant and tour O.S. Petty Rifle Range
TMI Hall of Fame Awards Ceremony ー 5-6 p.m. in All Saints ChapelHonoring 2020-2021 inductees Jeremy Bernard ’81, Championship Swim Teams 1994-1997, Courtney Wiley Caldwell ’97, Tres Kleberg ’60 and Butch Schimmel ’60; Master Sgt. J.W. Bohner (posthumous), TMI dorm parent and Bataan Death March survivor; The Rt. Rev. James Folts, retired bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas and co-chair of All Saints Chapel Campaign; and Sylvia Gonzalez, TMI Spanish teacher (1997-2017)
Alumni Welcome Reception ー 6-7 p.m. on Chapel PorticoLight refreshments and beverages; all alumni and guests are welcome
To RSVP for any and all of these activities, please use this form.
TPL conference champions-to-be get ready to rumble in 1970 at the Alamo Heights campus.
1971 Reunion…A Fabulous 50th!
The class of 1971 ー TPL football champions, alligator wranglers for the new pool (ask them about the surprise guest at its dedication) ー is planning its 50th-anniversary reunion for the weekend of Oct. 1-2, 2021. To get involved, please contact Rick Smith ’71 at firstname.lastname@example.org or (210) 710-3233 (cell).
Azizi Van Delden Wesmiller ‘01
Army Maj. Azizi Wesmiller ‘01 will serve as reviewing officer at TMI’s Final Pass in Review on April 30.
What brought you to TMI?My father (Frank J. Van Delden) went to Peacock Military Academy and saw the value in an institution like TMI. It was about the structure, values and leadership offered in a school like this. (As a contractor with Van Delden Construction), he helped build TMI (at the present campus), working on the library. I was the third of four siblings who went to TMI and the only girl in the family. All of us (Jeffrey ’93, Darren ’95, Azizi ‘01 and Robert ‘03) were in JROTC from grade six to 12.READ MORE
Azizi served in Iraq from 2007-2008 as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot in a General Support Aviation Battalion.
What are some highlights of what you’ve done since graduation from TMI? I went to college at St. Edward’s in Austin, majoring in criminal justice with a minor in business, Col. Coulter (then commandant of the TMI Corps of Cadets) said that since I’d enjoyed JROTC, I should try ROTC in college. I’d decided I wouldn’t pursue a career in the military, but I loved sports and being outdoors, so I signed up for ROTC and it quickly transitioned to a career. ROTC paid for my college; I was commissioned out of UT-Austin,and went to flight school at Fort Rucker and became a Blackhawk pilot. I did three years in Hawaii (Wheeler Army Airfield) in aviation and was XO (executive officer) for a flight batallion.
As a legislative aide, Azizi worked with Gen. Mark Milley, worked in the Pentagon from 2016-2017 with Gen. Mark Milley, then Chief of Staff of the Army.
In what’s called a “broadening assignment,” I was a Department of Defense Congressional Fellow in Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s office while she was chair of the Appropriations Committee. The Army sent me to George Washington University the year before for a master’s degree in Legislative Affairs the year before I worked on Capitol Hill ー all as an active-dury officer. After that I was an Army Congressional Budget Liaison and then worked as Legislative Assistant to the Chief of Staff of the Army (Gen. Mark Milley, now Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff). I didn’t know a lot about Congress before that; it was another great switch! One of the highlights for me was briefing Sen. (John) McCain.
I’m now a Career Manager in the Human Resources Command, working with personnel issues, retirements and assignments, at Fort Knox, Ky.
Please tell us about your family.My husband Matthew and I were married in 2009. He went to West Point, and we met in flight school. Eighteen months later, we were married. We have three children, two girls and a boy ー Chase, who’s 7, Riley, 5, and James, 2.
What are your interests outside of work and family?My passion is my profession and my family. I love travel, and I Iove sports ー TMI had a lot to do with that; I played volleyball, softball and basketball at TMI, and I’ve played in softball leagues and Ultimate Frisbee since then.
Do you have time to do any community service?We have helped in our own way, mostly through church and through work…(the opportunity) changes quite often as we move through our assignments.
What were some of your favorite activities at TMI?Hands down, the volleyball and softball teams were my favorite. I was in “Midsummer’s Night‘s Dream,” playing what I think was the Queen of the Fairies…and I learned I was not meant to be an actor. The unique advantage of TMI is that it offers an opportunity to try a bit of everything, I didn’t think I wanted to be in the military, but I joined JROTC and stayed in…ending up as Bravo Company commander in my senior year.
What are your strongest memories of your TMI years?My father passed away (in 1997) while I was in high school, and my little brother was in middle school. TMI told students they could go to the funeral ー and 100 students were bused (to attend). (Members of) the Corps lined the walls of the church. It meant so much to me and my family.
Who were the teachers who most impressed you?My top five were Mr. Jeanes, the only professor who could make me care about chemistry; Mr. Spencer, my basketball coach and mentor; English teacher Bob Bell, whose son Daniel was in our class, Coach Goertz; and Lt. Col. Coulter and Sgt. Maj. McGarity. Col. Coulter was the reason I tried ROTC in college ー I don’t think I would have, if he hadn’t cared so much for me as a person. That advice had a great impact on me my senior year; I most likely wouldn’t be in the Army without it.
Do you have a most memorable TMI moment?Cleaning up after our senior prank: We glued all the locks shut in Coates Hall. Mrs. (Alex) Hernandez and Mrs. (Barbara) Zenner were somewhat understanding, but they made us clean it up. I thank God I got my rebellion out of the way early!
What is the most important lesson you learned at TMI?Due to having to show up at formation, I learned at TMI that you don’t get be late. Once after I started driving, I (inadvertently) left my younger brother Robert (’03) at home. When I called my mother, she said I had to come home and get him. I never did that again!
What advice would you give current TMI students?Try everything ー you have a unique opportunity to find out what you’re good at. I went to a leadership conference for high-school students from all over the United States to debate on policy issues. I didn’t know any of that and didn’t really understand politics but I looked it up and found out that it was interesting. When I think about TMI, I remember the values they instilled in us and how (the teachers and administrators) always heard us out. They encouraged 16- and 17-year-olds to make their own decisions, and it really mattered to us.
Army Maj. Azizi Wesmiller will serve as reviewing officer for Final Pass in Review as part of Alumni Day, April 30. To RSVP for this and other events of the day, click here.
Cori Kennedy Kurth ‘93
Cori Kennedy Kurth and daughter Olivia ‘25 enjoy outdoor time together.
What brought you to TMI? We toured TMI during the summer just before the beginning of my ninth-grade year. Cheryl Sanders, who was the Fine Arts director at the time, gave us the tour. I remember being very hesitant about it at first but quickly felt excited as she told me about all the opportunities for extracurricular activities, like theater and choir. I also have a distinct memory of walking into the Natatorium (swimming pool) and being amazed and again excited that I could do swim team.
What was it like being a faculty child?My mother (longtime TMI science teacher Mary Kennedy) joined the faculty during my junior year. As far as what it was like being a faculty child, I don’t really remember. So it must have been OK. I do remember I was in her Environmental Science class one day when a boy in the class was such a troublemaker, and I felt embarrassed…so I decided to ask to be an office aide instead of taking that elective. Over the years, I have loved hearing from her students on whom she made a big impact and who loved her class so much.READ MORE
What are some highlights of what you’ve done since graduation from TMI? I graduated with a Master of Arts in Counseling from UTSA and went on to become a licensed professional counselor and supervisor. My career has primarily focused on the emotional and mental health of children and families, as well as working with grieving children after the death of a loved one. Since 2017, I have been the program director of Magdalena House in San Antonio. Magdalena House provides a safe, nurturing transitional home for mothers and children fleeing abusive situations while the mothers work to further their education and break cycles of violence and poverty. This work has been extremely rewarding to me, and I see it as more of a calling or vocation than a job. I also supervise associate counselors who are in clinical training to pursue full licensure.
Please tell us about your family.My husband Brian and I have been married for 20 years. We have one child, Olivia, who is 13 years old and is an eighth grader at TMI, and two rescue dogs, Scout and Brady.
Cori, her husband Brian and daughter Olivia enjoy a vacation at YellowstoneNational Park.
What are your interests outside of work and family?My family is my favorite interest so I’m including them in this! We love to travel, fly fish, hunt, swim, hang out with our neighbors, and go camping in our travel trailer. We love nature and have both a large vegetable garden that my mother manages and a butterfly garden. We are members of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio and enjoy being a part of that community. I joined the St. Mark’s Education for Ministry (EFM) class this year and have really enjoyed that.
Cori shows off a big brown trout caught on a fly-fishing trip on a creek in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia.
What were some of your favorite activities at TMI?There were so many! Choir, drama, musical theater, swimming, cheerleading, softball. I loved that I got to participate in any activity I wanted, even if I was only mediocre at best! I also really loved the community service group I was in, Computer Chips. This was a group that went to Oak Meadow Elementary School and mentored kids in the Special Education classes. That was the best!
What are your strongest memories of your TMI years?Some of my favorite memories were going to the FIne Arts festivals and our junior and senior retreats. I especially remember the ropes courses and the bridge at Mo Ranch! The plays and musicals are strong memories too ー we had such fun with the “Greater Tuna” production, and I loved “The Sound of Music,” which included students from all grades, including Middle School. I have such fond memories of my friends, other students, and teachers. I remember feeling like we were supported and encouraged to be ourselves.
Who are the TMI teachers who most impressed you?Mr. Jeanes, Mrs. Koon, Mrs. Sanders, Mr. Moore, Mrs. Moore (not married to each other, but both great English teachers!), Mrs. Gray…the list goes on. I have always thought the faculty were outstanding. They challenged us but were so supportive and wanted to make sure we were prepared for college. They also were more than just teachers, they cared about who were as individuals and let us know they cared. I also loved Mrs. Hernandez and Mrs. Zenner; they were so wonderful!
What is the most important lesson you learned at TMI?TMI taught me life lessons about the importance of values, integrity and character. Two big lessons learned were sportsmanship and servant leadership. We were taught to be gracious losers and gracious winners. Coach Laura Rodriguez as well as other coaches expected us to be courteous to our competitors and to each other. As far as servant leadership ー I don’t know that it was labeled as such when I was at TMI but it was definitely fostered and encouraged. I learned the importance of serving others, especially those in need and how rewarding it can be. I think that had a lot to do with the direction I went in my career.
What advice would you give current TMI students?Seize opportunities! Get involved in things that you are interested in even if you think you might not be good at it, you never know what might be your thing. Try not to be too hard on yourself, show grace to yourself and others. Most importantly, I encourage you to pay attention to the core values and the yearly themes (Love your neighbor, 2020-2021) that are highlighted at TMI. These things will truly take you far and pay off in both your personal and professional life.
Andy Reineck, from left, Cori Kennedy Kurth, LaraTurner, Yolanda Moreno Hernandez and Greg Stryker gather behind Frost Athletic Center at Homecoming 2018, 25 years after graduating.
Inside the Inauguration
Ana Paula Velasco ‘17, Chris Adams ‘99
At least two TMI alumni were witnesses to history as they took a role in the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration in Washington D.C. One was Ana Paula Velasco ’17, left, who had interned with now-First Lady Dr. Jill Biden during the 2020 campaign.
“Serving as a volunteer on the Presidential Escort with the Presidential Inaugural Committee was the honor of a lifetime.” said Ana Paula, a junior at George Washington University.
After the swearing-in ceremony and other events of the day, President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and their families were escorted on foot for the last part of their journey to the White House.READ MORE
On a short-notice mobilization with the Texas Army National Guard, Maj. Chris Adams ’99 “was lucky enough to serve as the Task Force executive officer of a force of 1,344 soldiers charged with securing the entirety of the National Mall from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial in support of the 59th Presidential Inauguration.”
Steve Simpson ‘66
Stephen H. Simpson III ‘66, left, donates books and scientific equipment to TMI Dean of Innovation Justin Kutscherousky before a tour of the school’s new Walker Innovation Center.
When retired Army Col. Steve Simpson ‘66 returned to campus March 4, he came to give back ー literally.
He met Dean of Innovation Justin Kutscherousky to donate some items he thought might be useful to current students, including a short-wave radio, magnets, lenses, binoculars, 1970s calculators, a weather balloon and math and science books “from the slide-rule era.”
There was also a Tesla coil (a device that produces high-voltage electrical energy). “Believe it or not, this really belongs to TMI,” he said. “It failed while I was a student, and I took it home to fix it. I fixed it, but for whatever reason, it never made the trip back.”
While visiting the campus, Steve toured the Walker Innovation Center, which opened in October 2020 and saw the Broadcast Studio, AR/VR Room and Neiman Fab Lab (fabrication laboratory).
The Signal Corps veteran was particularly interested in the technology ー CNC (computer numerical control) milling machine, a laser cutter/engraver and vinyl cutter ー of the Fab Lab, says Justin, who explained to the visitor how TMI’s Innovation and Design courses “use a mastery-based system of grading to give our students the freedom to design and create without limitations.”
While Steve has visited often since graduation ー serving on TMI’s board in the early 1990s, formerly heading the Alumni Association, and doing several installations as a contractor ー the Walker Innovation Center especially impressed him. “The operation that Justin heads up is a real think tank,” he said. “It’s not a museum setting at the Walker; what an opportunity to let everyone share their daydreams out loud!”
Inspiration for Education
Tom Frost ‘46
The late Tom Frost ‘46 ー shown here as TMI Alumnus of the Year for 1974 ー a supporter of TMI as well as other local educational institutions, inspired brewery magnate Carlos Alvarez to make a $20 million gift to the University of Texas at San Antonio ー the largest in the university’s history. Read more here.
Schedel Lutjen ’06
Well known as an actor in TMI drama productions, Schedel is now a San Antonio playwright and author who works with Morgan’s Wonderland inclusive amusement park and the Company Theatre to produce family-friendly plays and short films.
Since 1999, at age 11, he has produced a series of comics, books, plays, films and radio adventures starring strange and humorous superheroes. His works have been performed or enjoyed as far afield as Hong Kong, Singapore and Scotland.
His newest publications, starring Texas-based heroes with odd personalities, are available on Amazon.Cloudman, a 12-year-old kid who can fly and shoot lightning bolts, stars in three light-hearted, child-friendly San Antonian comic book adventures. He battles the wicked living sausage Schnitzel Man, donut-obsessed insectoid creature Captain Mantis and many other foes alongside his best friends, an oak tree and a pair of rainboots.
Hero BLOB, a deranged superhero who can turn into any liquid, stars in two satirical and goofy comic magazines of his own. He pals around with Chilipepperman, whose pepper-shaped flamethrowers ‘have the hots for you’. Special guests include the Mad Flame Bandido, the diabolical Doctor ThePepper, and the alluring belle known only as Chicken Muslim. Note the Hero BLOB mask featured on the cover — constructed back in 2002 in a TMI art class taught by Allan Rupe ’80!
Schedel also has several prose books and ebooks also available on Amazon at his author page. More information and samples of all his works are available for free at theSchedel.com or on Instagram @heroblob and https://www.theschedel.com.
We love to hear from published Panthers! Please let us know about your work as an author or artist at email@example.com. If you’d like to donate a copy of your book to TMI’s Helen and Everett Jones Library, where there is an alumni authors display, please mail to: Librarian, TMI Episcopal, 20955 W. Tejas Trail, San Antonio TX 78257.
TMI and non-TMI students alike are welcome at Summer at TMI camps and classes, June 7-July 23, for grades K-12 ー with special savings for frequent campers!
Check out the complete catalog for details of this summer’s offerings ー all-day Panther Day Camp,TMI Academic Academy, TMI Sports Academy and Nike U.S. Sports Camps (basketball and volleyball) ー and register online.
Some discounts apply:
SUMMER OF WONDER BUNDLEBuy all seven weeks of Panther Day Camps (grades K-6), each with a different theme, and get one camp completely free!
MULTI-CAMP DISCOUNTWhen registering for four or more camps, you can save 10 percent off your registration fees. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for your own personal 4-PACK discount code when registering for four or more camps. (U.S. Sport Nike Programs are not included in this discount. Discount offers may not be combined.)
For questions about Summer at TMI programs, call (210) 564-6300or email email@example.com.
George Ricks ‘65
We are grateful to the family of the late George Ricks ‘65, who donated his first-place trophy as the 1964 National Junior Individual ROTC Champion, along with the “Official Bulletin of the NRA Junior Indoor Rifle Championships 1964,” where his score of 392 points is recorded along with his picture.READ MORE
George passed away Jan. 18. To read his full obituary, click here.
The Panther, 1962-1966
Thanks to John Larkin Matthews ’66, who sent pristine copies of The Panther student newspaper from 1962 to 1966. From these issues, we learn what cadets did when they trained at Camp Bullis (a surprise raid on a Boy Scout camp led by Robert Snip ’66 was a highlight), what the boarders’ Christmas party was like (names were drawn for gifts from Santa, and Ray Keck ’65 played carols on the organ) and where the swim team practiced (the downtown Elks Club’s indoor, heated pool ー a big improvement over a chilly country-club pool).
Student journalists also recorded faculty hires and retirements, sports rivals, standardized tests and many other facets of school life that are part of TMI’s history. We have some but not nearly all copies of school publications and are always happy to receive these important sources of information. To donate, mail TMI-related items to: TMI Archives, TMI Episcopal, 20955 W. Tejas Trail, San Antonio TX 78257.
Dan Blocker ’46
Former TMI Commandant John Coulter(2000-2006) found the photo above on a military blog, where the TMI cadet holding a 1903 Springfield rifle was identified as the late Dan Blocker ’46, an actor and producer best known for his long-running role as Hoss Cartwright in TV’s “Bonanza.” Col. Coulter remembered writing the following bio of this distinguished cadet alumnus:
Dan Blocker,the “big” brother on the hit TV series “Bonanza,” was born in 1928 in Bowie County, Texas. At a birth weight of 14 pounds, he was the largest baby ever born there, and by the time he was 12, he stood over six feet tall and weighed 200 pounds.
Upon his arrival at Texas Military Institute in 1943, he was immediately a favorite football player. He also was elected president of both his sophomore and junior classes and vice president of his senior class. Cadet Sgt. Blocker helped lead both his platoon and his company to the distinction of being the best in the cadet battalion.
After graduation from TMI, Dan attended Hardin-Simmons University, where he was again an outstanding football player. Ultimately, Dan received his bachelor’s degree in Speech and Drama from Sul Ross State University. After receiving his degree, Dan turned down several offers to play professional football and to box professionally.Instead, he decided to pursue one of his true desires and spent summers acting in Boston’s summer stock theater.
Dan returned to wear the uniform he proudly served during his time at TMI when he went to war in Korea. Dan was an Infantry First Sergeant with the 45th Infantry Division and soon found himself in the thick of the fighting. During one 10-hour battle with his unit pinned down by enemy fire, Dan led his troops to repulse several “human wave” attacks. In the midst of the hand-to-hand fighting, Dan is credited with saving the lives of several of his men.
His tour of duty completed, Dan retuned to the USA and married his college sweetheart. Soon thereafter, he enrolled again at Sul Ross State. This time he earned his M.A. degree. From here, Dan began pursuing another of his true desires…teaching. He taught English in Sonora, Texas, and later in Carlsbad, New Mexico. His love of teaching, lead Dan to move to California and enroll at UCLA to begin work on his doctorate. While at UCLA, Dan’s life took another dramatic turn.
Dan was cast in the role of the middle brother, Hoss Cartwright, on the soon-to-be hit television series “Bonanza,” which he. starred in from 1965 to 1972. After a very lucrative but relatively short career in television, he opened a steak restaurant chain named after his favorite TV show, ”Bonanza.”
Sadly, Dan died in 1972 from complications after a gall-bladder operation. Dan was survived by his wife Dolphia, their twin daughters Debra and Danna and two sons, David and Dirk.
Dan was never comfortable with the spotlight brought about by his acting fame. This gentle 6 foot, 4 inch, 300-pound giant was much more at home and comfortable with his life in O’Donnell, Texas, spending time with friends and family. His classmates of 1946 have fond memories of Dan as a kind and fun loving person, without guile or the need to be in the limelight.
Retired from the Army, Col. Coulter lives in Virginia, where he works part-time for the Department of Defense. He is the author of “Cadets on Campus” and is at work on the final chapter of a book to be published by the Association of Military Schools and Colleges of the United States (AMSCUS).
Vic Beck made a hole in one using a 7 iron on Feb. 7, the day before his 90th birthday, at Austin’s Lost Creek Country Club, of which he is a founding member.This was his second, he says: “First one was at the Padre Isle Country Club in May 2001; had to wait 20 years for another.”
Lamar “Joe” Joseph has good news to share: “Just wanted to say, I’m expecting my fifth great-grandchild, a girl, about April 4. Needless to say, I am excited! Would like to hear from some of my old classmates. I attended TMI from September 1956 through August 1959. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.”READ MORE
Moises Carrasco lives in Austin and reports that he “Lost 160 lbs in the last three years. I now weigh what I weighed when I was a freshman. Yay!”
Pierce M. Broach Jr., Corps Commander of TMI’s class of 1972, will call an end to his 46-year crude oil marketing and transportation career when he leaves Plains All American Pipeline at the end of June 2021. Pierce has been with Plains since July 7, 1985, and most recently served as the director of Permian Basin Trucking, where he oversaw all truck transportation assets in the Permian and Delaware basins. Pierce and his wife Sandy still reside on their ranch outside of San Antonio near Natural Bridge Caverns. Pierce plans to move right in to his livestock and equipment trading business after he leaves Plains.
‘Wonder Woman’ gives legally blind runner William Greer ‘88 a prize for placing in his age group at Austin’s CASA Superhero Run 5K, which raises money to help children who are abused or neglected.
William Greer has run 17 full marathons, nine 31-mile and two 50-mile ultramarathons but has yet to run a 100 mile ultramarathon…one of his two goals as a runner. “I’ve registered for the Brazos on the Bend 100 mile ultramarathon,” he says. “So after December 4, I will have been in one of these ultras.”
William may be a long-distance runner, but he’s not a lifelong one. In January 1987, while he was a student at TMI, “I was riding a racing bicycle roughly 30 miles a day. When I was hit during one of these rides. I became legally blind as a result of this accident.” When he turned to jogging for exercise in 2004, he says, “I never thought that I would enter a 5K, let alone a marathon, because I was only jogging for exercise.” Since then, he has been in many of the 26-mile races, including the 2013 Boston marathon, “which I finished five minutes before the first bomb went off.”
His other running goal is to finish a marathon in under three hours and 40 minutes, beating his current record of 3:42:42. To see a video of William before the 2013 Boston Marathon with his sighted guide, NPR personality Peter Sagal, click here. Sagal, the host of “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me,” wrote a chapter about this experience in his book, “The Incomplete Book of Running,” and still goes running with William whenever his show visits Austin.
Hennon Gilbert Jr. has a new job: “As of March 1, 2021, I am the full-time instructor of AP Macroeconomics at Benbrook Middle/High School, in the Fort Worth ISD.”
Brothers John ‘00, left, and Michael Burns ‘96, John reports, have “launched our own marketing, communications and diversity agency in 2020 called The Burns Brothers. We were both Battalion Commanders our respective years (at TMI).” John also was an executive producer of “I Am a Dreamer,” a documentary that explores the current state of affairs when it comes to racial and social injustice, police brutality, education, economic empowerment, allyship and voting. To view the film online, click here.
The Burns Brothers recently launched theirfirst ad campaign in Times Square.
After graduation from TMI, Ethan Clements attended Georgia Military Academy for a year, then joined the Marines and trained in San Diego, Calif. He was stationed in Guantanamo Bay for almost a year and came home to finish his college degree at UTSA. After college, he was accepted to Army Officer School and became an Army lieutenant in heavy artillery. Ethan served in Fort Sill, Okla., Seattle, Wash. and Fairbanks, Alaska, as well as a year in Iraq before returning to San Diego. Last year, he was promoted to major while stationed in El Paso with his Army National Guard unit. Ethan and his wife Jennifer have a 13-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old-son.
Former TMI Board of Governors member Jose Sena (above, second from left) visited TMI on Feb. 4 with friends who toured the campus during an Admissions visit.
Crista Saxon Reed and Adam Reed, both members of the class of 2003, welcomed baby Claire on March 4! She joins big sister Taylor, age 5.
Maggie Stephens Gambrel was promoted to Executive Director at UBS Financial Services in Nashville, TN, where she has worked since 2008. As an executive director and processing center manager, she oversees all branch and field operations for wealth management branches from Ohio to Hawaii. She and her husband Bobby have two children, Carrie, 7, and Charlie, 2.
Scott Stephens has joined the executive staff at H-E-B, where he is the manager of Social and Customer Care. He lives in San Antonio with his wife Elizabeth and their three children, Lucy, 7, Ada, 4, and Briggs, 1.
Seeley Stephens works in New York City and has been promoted to associate producer at Engel Entertainment on unscripted TV development and production.
Congratulations to golfer Delaney Martin. a first-year student-athlete at the University of Houston, finished in the Top 10 in her collegiate debut at a recent tournament! Click here for details of the two-day event.
TMI remembers those members of our alumni community who have recently passed away. If you know of an alumnus/a who has passed, please email email@example.com with the name, class year and a link to the obituary or call us at (210) 564-6155.
Rhett Butler ’58
Joe Frost ‘58
Wayne Gonzalez ‘77
Richard Killian ‘55
Gordon Leland ’61
George Martin ‘58
Bill Phillips ’57
Bruce Winslow ‘71
Faculty and Staff
Art Evans, retired teacher, coach and administrator
Keep in Touch
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