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Homecoming Awards

Homecoming Awards

Sade Stewart
Sadé Stewart (’08, ’14)
Unsung Hero Award

Sadé "Slim" Stewart, from Zwolle, Louisiana, emerged as a standout athlete and academic star, earning the title Valedictorian at her high school. Her journey led her to East Texas Baptist University in the fall of 2004. Graduating with Magna Cum Laude honors in 2008, she achieved a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry. The pursuit of knowledge and leadership did not stop there. In 2014, she completed her Master of Business Administration in Entrepreneurial Leadership. A true trailblazer, Stewart was part of ETBU's first MBA cohort, where she stood out as the Most Outstanding Student with a 4.0 grade point average.

Sade' was honored for her contributions to ETBU Women's Basketball as a member of the 2023 ETBU Athletics Hall of Fame. Her incredible career made her the second all-time leading scorer in ETBU history, amassing 1,439 points and leading her team to the 2006-07 American Southwest Conference East Division Championship. She collected numerous awards, including three All-ASC East accolades, two first-team awards in 2005-06 and 2006-07, the 2007-08 ASC East Preseason Player of the Year, and the 2004-05 ASC East Freshman of the Year.

Stewart is an influential figure in the field of Research & Development. She currently serves as a Director, leading a team of chemists responsible for formulating and testing automotive lubricants for renowned industry suppliers like O'Reilly's, Lowes, STIHL, Tesla, Tractor Supply, AutoZone, and others. Her entrepreneurial spirit shines in her real estate endeavors as the owner of PUSH Housing, LLC. Over the last 11 years, her portfolio has grown significantly, offering affordable residential leasing to neighboring communities. Her properties encompass a diverse range, including mobile homes, single-family homes, raw land, a condominium, and partial ownership of apartments.

Her influence extends into the transportation sector through PUSH Transit, LLC, where she focuses on acquiring semi-trucks and trailers, offering affordable equipment leasing to assist freight carriers in their daily operations. As the President of Motivational PUSH, Inc., Stewart empowers and encourages others to embrace positivity daily. Through the "Go Be Positive" (goB+) movement, she has made a positive impact for eight years, using social media, church, and community events as platforms for her message.

Sadé serves as the Financial Advisor for Changing Lives Outreach Ministries, a church she has been part of for 15 years, where she has also contributed as a Board member for seven years.

Sadé "Slim" Stewart is the eldest child of parents Gary & Gina Cutright and Quentin & Tabatha Stewart. She is the proud mother of 12-year-old son Otis "Poppa" Williams III.

Katie Balfe
Katie Balfe (’09)
Young Alumna Award

Katie Balfe was born in Longview, Texas, and raised in The Woodlands, Texas. A second-generation graduate of East Texas Baptist University, Katie's time on the Hill culminated in 2009 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, accompanied by double minors in Accounting and Religion.

Following graduation, Katie began a career in the energy industry, first at Murphy Energy and for the past 6.5 years at Twin Eagle, where she currently works as the Vice President of Human Resources.  

Katie's community engagement extends to her local roots. She resides in The Woodlands, a community she holds dear, and is an active member of The Woodlands First Baptist Church. Her involvement at the church spans a broad spectrum, from teaching Bible Studies within the students and singles ministries to engaging in missions and playing an integral role in the women's ministry.

Alton Holt
Alton Holt (’82)
Alumni Achievement Award

Alton R. Holt, a native of Corpus Christi, Texas, embarked on a journey of service, innovation, and faith after graduating from East Texas Baptist University in 1982 with a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies and Psychology. 

While at ETBU, Mr. Holt distinguished himself as a leader by serving as the Student Body President, but his impact extended far beyond campus. His passion for service was ignited during this time as he participated in volunteer mission work at homeless centers in Shreveport, Louisiana. Following his time at ETBU, Holt earned his Master of Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1987.

Mr. Holt is a devoted husband to Janis Holt, and together, they have four children and five grandchildren. Alton is an active member of Pinecrest Baptist Church in Silsbee, Texas. He has served as a Board Trustee for the Valley Baptist Mission/Education Center for 14 years and, impressively, spent six years on the Executive Board for the General Baptist Convention of Texas.

In addition to his ministerial and community work, Alton R. Holt is an accomplished entrepreneur. In 1997, he founded Hi-Tech Air Purification Systems, LLC, a pioneering company with significant advancements in air purification techniques. One of his groundbreaking inventions, "CIMR" (Continuous Infectious Microbial Reduction), is poised to revolutionize fields like Food Safety, Infection Control, and Bioterrorism. Mr. Holt's visionary work in this arena has earned him recognition and commendations from esteemed organizations, including the U.S. Military and the Army Corps of Engineers. He has also been honored by the University of Texas Education System, FEMA, and the National Historical Society.

Alton's commitment to improving global health and safety knows no bounds. His innovations have paved the way for international opportunities in infection control, environmental cleanup, and agricultural development. Countries like the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Ghana, Australia, the Marshall Islands, and India have all benefited from his transformative technologies, resulting in job creation and community enrichment.

Above all, Alton R. Holt's life mission is guided by Matthew 28:19-20. His unwavering faith leads him to minister to people around the world by providing innovative solutions through products, services, engineering, and community-based educational programs, all rooted in a dedication to enhancing people's health and well-being. He is driven to develop and implement sustainable agricultural programs worldwide, creating business opportunities and jobs to support individuals, families, and communities, embodying the spirit of faith-driven entrepreneurship and humanitarianism.

Larry Hemenes
Larry Hemenes (’67)
J. Wesley Smith Achievement Award

Larry Hemenes came to ETBC in 1962 on a full-ride athletic scholarship under Coach RC Kennedy. During his tenure as a Tiger, ETBC clinched the Big State Conference Basketball Championship. 

Larry met the love of his life, Nancy, in 1965 while at ETBC. Together, over the last 57 years, they have built a life filled with shared joys, and their family has grown to include three children, six beloved grandchildren, and two cherished great-grandchildren.

Larry is a passionate advocate for civic affairs, dedicating his time and energy to the betterment of the community. His leadership roles include serving as the Chairman of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Partners in Education & Consortium. He is also the Treasurer for Caring Place, an organization focused on making a positive difference in the lives of many.

Throughout the Georgetown Healthcare System, he helped spearhead the growth of the hospital and the healthcare systems by coordinating the combination of two major bond issues, which added 80,000 square feet to the hospital facility and various additional services. He was also very active in a major merger that provided future funding for the Georgetown Healthcare Foundation, in which 1.5 million per year is given.

Bill and Anita Runnels
Bill and Anita Runnels
W.T. Tardy Service Award

Bill's journey began in Huntsville, Texas, in 1941, where he was born to Mack and Minnie Runnels. His parents were married by Pastor H.D. Bruce, who later became the President of ETBC. In 1942, Dr. Bruce recruited Mack Runnels as a coach and math professor to the Hill, setting the stage for the family's longstanding connection to ETBU. Bill's academic journey saw him graduate from Marshall High in 1959, a time during which he called the first President's home on North Grove his own.

Bill pursued a Civil Engineering degree, graduating from Lamar University in 1964. However, his attendance at ETBC events marked the beginning of his profound connection to the university. During one such occasion, Bill met the sister of his future bride at the crowning of the ETBC Basketball Sweetheart ceremony. In 1964, Bill married Anita, and Dr. H.D. Bruce officiated their union, cementing their shared love for ETBU.

It is worthy of mention that had Bill's father not happened upon the Tenaha drug store for a milkshake in the '60s, the "rest of the ETBU story" would be quite different. Sitting at the counter that day was Lloyd Woods. Bill's father was Vice President of Development at the time, and never meeting a stranger, the two immediately bonded over a shared affinity for squirrel hunting. Mack and Lloyd met up for their annual hunt every opening day for years. This relationship was the beginning of a legacy of giving that was inspired by a divine appointment…for a milkshake.

Bill dedicated 33 years of his career to TXDOT in Atlanta, Texas. He and Anita are proud parents of two sons, James and Stephen, and doting grandparents to six granddaughters, one grandson, and one great-granddaughter, with another great-grandson on the way. Bill remains actively engaged in the Land and Timber business and is a long-time Houston Astros fan. Bill and Anita are members at First Baptist Church Atlanta where Bill is a retired deacon. 

With deep ties to ETBU, Bill has faithfully served on the Board of Trustees, witnessing the transformation of ETBC into the ETBU of today. His family's legacy of commitment and service continues to enrich the ETBU community and beyond.

Frances Aguilar Salazar
Frances (Aguilar) Salazar (’51)
Golden Lightkeeper Award

As a high school student in Bastrop, Texas, Frances Aguilar Salazar spent her summers as a missionary working at vacation Bible schools at churches surrounding Houston. It was during one of these visits that she learned about East Texas Baptist College while staying with a pastor's family from the Mexican Baptist Church in Houston.

In 1947, Frances arrived at East Texas Baptist College, living outside her parents' home for the first time. During her four years at ETBC, Frances was actively involved in the Young Women's Auxiliary and the Chorus, served as editor of The Martian yearbook, and held the role of secretary/treasurer of the junior class. Her excellence in the classroom led to her being selected as a Who's Who in American Universities and Colleges. Frances also served as the President of the Mission Band and was the first ETBC student to travel internationally as a Baptist Student Union summer missionary. In 1951, she earned her degree in elementary education.

While working as a summer missionary at a camp, Frances first met Epifanio Salazar following his two years of service in the United States Navy. According to a 1969 article in The Odessa American, Epifanio "was converted to Christ while in the Navy after the Battle of Iwo Jima and was called to the Gospel ministry after the Battle of Okinawa in 1945."

Following her graduation from ETBC, Frances and Epifanio were married, and shortly after, Epifanio completed courses at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. During their ministry together, the couple served in several cities across Texas, including Brady, Fort Worth, Waco, Lubbock, Corpus Christi, and El Paso. As the Lord called the Salazars from one place to another, the couple was blessed with two sons, Joel Edward and Orlando, and a daughter, Robin.

In addition to her contributions to her church, Frances became President of the Women's Missionary Union of Texas while serving families as an elementary teacher.

As a young Mexican woman who walked onto the campus of ETBC and went on to serve the Lord passionately in a variety of ways, Frances (Aguilar) Salazar is viewed as a trailblazer, and she gives all of the credit to God.

"When you surrender to the Lord, He will take over, and He can use you and take you to places you would never dream of, like what He's done with me."

2023 Golden Blazers: Laura Coursey (’17, ’21), Dr. Glenn Hambrick (’78), Dr. Robin Rudd (’85), Michael Tandy (’64)

Golden Blazer Recipients Across the Years

2010 GOLDEN BLAZERS
Amon Baker (’51)
Joynelle Baker (’53)
Dr. George Bennett (’43)
B.G. Bockman (’49)
Dr. Frank H. Brooks (’55)
Shirley Brooks (’55)
Barbara Brunt (’60)
J. Frank Brunt (’59)
Pamela Coursey (’83)
Mary Jean Craig (’48)
Dr. Catherine Crawford (’74)
Norma Jean Folmar (’57)
Mary Fortenberry (’50)
Elizabeth Gill (’49)
Lois Grammer (’51)
Col. R. Gene Grammer (’51)
Dr. Harlan Hall (’54)
Gerald Hamilton (’83)
L. Annette Harrison (’51)
Miekle Hoffman (’50)
Joe Hogue (’56)
Gladys Hudson (’47)
Barbara Huffman (’59)
Robert Hurtte (’51)
Dr. Sheila Hurtte (’51)
Charles Kennedy (’68)
Rayford Lewis (’64)
Susan Livingston (’64)
Joe Lovelace (’42)
Ethel Minyard (’57)
Glenda Nelson (’60)
Earle Oldham (’52)
Charles Slaten (’50)
Doyle Taylor (’61)
Earl Taylor (’61)
Margaret Unkel (’54)
Helen Williamson (’43)

2011 GOLDEN BLAZERS
Janell Atkinson (’59)
Anita Everett (’57)
Dr. Bill Everett (’57)
Charles Fry (’50)
Alicia Grohman (’76)
Dr. Tyrell Grohman (’76)
James O. Rogers (’52)
Dr. Jim Teague (’68)

2012 GOLDEN BLAZERS
Dr. Dane Fowlkes (’82)
Lucyann Hopkins (’67)
Paul Tapp (’69)
Carolyn Wilkinson (’67)

2013 GOLDEN BLAZERS
Ned Calvert (’95)
Tim Cline (’90)
Gen. Vernon Lewis (’49-’52, ’12)
Katherine Moore Spears (’77)

2014 GOLDEN BLAZERS
Morris Brock (’54)
Dr. E. Leon Carter (’80)
Dr. Billy Foote (’60-65, ’09)
Jana Sims (’96)
Mike Templeton (’64)

2015 GOLDEN BLAZERS
Dr. James Best (’55)
Robert Duvall (’63)
Bonnie Hester (’49)
Joe Jones (’52)
Dr. Ben Raimer (’69)

2016 GOLDEN BLAZERS
Dr. Roger Chapman (’43)
Dr. John Hatch (’67)
Alice Hatch (’70)
Dr. Rutledge McClaran (’61)
Dr. Wallace Watkins (’63)

2017 GOLDEN BLAZERS
Barry Hale (’83)
Francis (Eiland) Henderson (’46)
Dr. Tequecie Meek (’73)
Merrill Nelson (’84)
Jacob Richardson (’07)
Kelli (Pruitt) Richardson (’09)
Dr. Rita (Storie) Turner (’48)
Cecil Winn (’61)

2018 GOLDEN BLAZERS
Don Anthis (’67)
Dr. Hollie Atkinson (’59)
Vince Blankenship (’85)
Susan (Brooks) Blankenship (’85)
Dr. J. Brian Nichols (’73)
Paula (Matkin) Nichols (’72)
Martha “Marty” (Hedgecock) Rich (’63
Dr. Will Walker (’03)
Ruthie (Meeks) Walker (’02)

2019 GOLDEN BLAZERS
Dorothy Keasler (’58)
Denie Kendrick (’58)
Charles and Ora Nell Peden (’55, ’54)

2020 & 2021 GOLDEN BLAZERS
Natalie Hale (’91)
Kim Hooper (’88)
Gerald Stockton (’79)
Sharon Stockton (’79)
Larry Tidwell (’78)
HONORARY GOLDEN BLAZERS
Jody Justus Anthis
Winky Stark Foote
Peggy Futch

2022 GOLDEN BLAZERS
Linda Cliett (’62)
Lorre Kauffman ('89)
Stacy Kauffman ('89)
Sergio Ramos (’93)