Archive for the ‘Alumni’ Category

Two Receive Honorary Doctorates from ETBU

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

etbu spring pm 2Spring Commencement saw 149 become graduates of East Texas Baptist University, 132 bachelor’s degrees and 17 master’s degrees. ETBU honored two with honorary doctorates. One to E. Leon Carter, a partner in the Dallas law firm of Carter Scholer Arnett Hamada and Mockler, PLLC.  The other one to D.M Edwards of Tyler who is the founding CEO and chairman of Edwards Investments.

ETBU President Dr. J. Blair Blackburn and Board of Trustee Chair Dr. Ben Raimer hood E. Leon Carter during Spring Commencement held May 7.

ETBU President Dr. J. Blair Blackburn and Board of Trustee Chair Dr. Ben Raimer hood E. Leon Carter during Spring Commencement held May 7.

Carter played basketball for ETBU from 1977 to 1980 and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Pre-law degree. He received his law degree from Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University and was admitted to the Bar in 1986.  Among his achievements, Carter is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the International Society of Barristers, the Litigation Counsel of America, and the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.  He was recently listed in The Best Lawyers in America in six areas: Bet-the-Company Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Labor and Employment Litigation, First Amendment Litigation, Intellectual Property Litigation, and Patent Litigation. ETBU awarded Carter as a Distinguished Alumnus in 2010.

ETBU President Dr. J. Blair Blackburn with D.M. Edwards of Tyler. Edwards was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from ETBU during Spring Commencement on May 7.

D.M. Edwards of Tyler was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree.



Edwards has been a long faithful supporter of education in East Texas. He has served on the Board of Trustees at ETBU for 20 years, including his role as chairperson. Edwards attended Tyler public schools and was a Cum Laude graduate of Tyler Junior College. He is also a graduate of the Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University, receiving a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with double majors in Marketing and Management and a minor in Finance. Edwards’ father, the late Dr. Welby C. Edwards, was also an ETBU trustee. Edwards, along with his parents, helped established the School of Nursing in 1989 at the University. Edwards has a heart for Baptist work throughout Texas. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Timberline Baptist Encampment and Conference Center in Lindale and several Baptist General Convention of Texas committees.

ETBU Alum Elected Youngest Mayor in Deport History

Monday, May 9th, 2016
John Mark Francis Becomes Youngest Mayor Elected in Deport History. PHOTO: Facebook

John Mark Francis becomes youngest mayor elected in Deport, Texas, history. PHOTO: Facebook

Deport, Texas, made history this Saturday by electing 25-year-old councilman and educator, John Mark Francis, as the youngest mayor in the city’s history Saturday, May 7, 2016 by a vote of 110 (90.9%) to 11 (9.1%) to Mary McMikel.

Francis graduated from East Texas Baptist University with a degree in Political Science and Leadership and teaches Junior High English at Winfield ISD. Francis is a proud, fourth-generation Deport citizen that takes deep pride in his community. “This town has shaped my life and has formed my most important values, most importantly my faith, how to treat others, and that in tough times we all pull together.”

Francis continued, “I want to thank all of those who voted and have placed their trust in me. I know personally how this community pulls together and I believe our best days are ahead.”

When asked about his plans for the future for Deport, Francis replied, “There are many serious issues that we as a city must address and they cannot be ignored any longer. The three main issues that I will begin work on immediately are: working with Red River and Lamar Counties to improve our streets that are crumbling, ensure that our water is safe and is meeting state standards set by the TCEQ, and plan a “Make Deport Beautiful” campaign to begin this summer, that will include cleaning up dilapidated structures that have become a hazard and danger.”

While at ETBU, Francis served as president of the Student Government Association and was the pianist for Woodlawn Baptist Church of Marshall.

Watch this story about Mayor Francis from KXII by clicking here.

The College of Marshall and the NCAA National Basketball Champions of 1966

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

glory roadMarch Madness is in full swing for NCAA Division I Basketball with a national champion to be crowned on Monday, April 4, in Houston at NRG Stadium. As I was watching one of the games this past weekend the broadcast paid tribute to the 1966 national championship team Texas Western College.

Did you know that the College of Marshall, foundational school for East Texas Baptist University, has a tie to the team that won it all 50 years ago?

The athletic trainer for Texas Western in 1966 was Ross Moore. Moore attended the COM from 1933 to 1936.

Ross was described in the 1935 Martian yearbook as “a hard blocking back from Sarepta, Louisiana.”  Ross went to what is now the University of Texas at El Paso in 1936 on a football scholarship and played basketball. Except for serving in the Navy during World War II, Ross was at the West Texas school serving as a coach, assistant professor, and athletic trainer until his death.

Ross, who was one of the first trainers to develop fiberglass padding as a protective device for injured athletes, was inducted into the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Hall of Fame in 1974. The Ross Moore Building at UTEP was dedicated in his name in 1985. He passed away in 1977.

There is a movie about the 1966 Texas Western team titled “Glory Road.” Former Elvis Presley bodyguard, Red West, portrays Ross in the movie. I had the pleasure of visiting on the telephone ten years ago with Ross’ wife, Kathleen Taylor Moore, after “Glory Road” came out on DVD.

Kathleen shared with me she was witnessing a part of her life when she saw the movie for the first time that was very real, not just some production on a screen. “I was not in shock, but I wasn’t all there either. ‘Glory Road’ is not a documentary. It is a story in which some of the things in the movie did not actually happen. I enjoyed the picture, but Red looks nothing like Ross, but does a creditable job of portraying his persona,” she told me.

Kathleen, who was raised in Marshall and graduated from COM met Ross “on the hill” while he was a student-athlete and she was his tutor in English.

“Our little joke between us is that we got married because the only way he was going to learn English was to have a life-long tutor.” They eloped and were married 42 years. Kathleen passed away peacefully in June 2014 at the age of 101.

Texas Western, coached by Don Haskins, won the national title with a 72-65 victory over Kentucky, coached by Adolph Rupp. Coach Haskins started five black payers for the first time in NCAA Championship history.

(From the Marshall News Messenger “From the Hilltop” blog written by ETBU Director of Public Relations Mike Midkiff)

ETBU Singing Alumnae Back at the Super Bowl

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016
Third from the left is ETBU alumnae Sgt. Hannah Rigg Shirey. She is singing at Super Bowl 50 with a chorus comprised of members from of all the United States Armed Forces. Photo from, 'Super Bowl  50 best photos.'

Third from the left is ETBU alumnae Sgt. Hannah Rigg Shirey. She is singing at Super Bowl 50 with a chorus comprised of members representing each branch of  the United State of America military. Photo from, ‘Super Bowl 50 best photos.’

Super Bowl Trivia question: What East Texas Baptist University graduate has sung in not one, but two Super Bowl pregame festivities within the past three years? I will give you a hint, she graduated from ETBU in May 2010 and is a technical sergeant in the United States Air Force.

As CBS was showing the pregame activities of Super Bowl 50, announcer Jim Nantz said something like, “And now to perform God Bless America, select members representing all the Armed Forces bands and singing groups…”

Many of the ETBU family began to look for Hannah Rigg Shirey. The camera panned from left to right and as it got to the middle of the chorus there she was on the front row.

Technical Sergeant Shirey has been a member of the United States Air Force Singing Sergeants since 2013. The Tomball, Texas native was also part of the chorus when Renee Fleeming sang the National Anthem at Super Bowl XLVIII when Denver lost to Seattle, 43-8.

In 2010, Shirey along with five others from ETBU shared their Christian testimony on a DVD produced by the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The DVD was part of the Texas Hope 2010 evangelism outreach to the entire state of Texas.

Before Shirey knew Christ as Savior she shared, “When I was 13, my oldest brother Isaac was murdered. He was shot and killed in Austin, Texas and I could not understand how this merciful, gracious God could do something like that.”

After knowing Christ as Savior, she found hope. “My brother died, then my sister died in a car accident, and it was really tough.  Had I not had Jesus to cling too, I would have not been able to surpass any of those trials.”

Here is another trivia question: What ETBU alumnae is returning back to Marshall to perform?

The United States Air Force Concert Band and Singing Sergeants National Tour visits ETBU on April 12.

ETBU MBA Grad named To JPMorgan Chase Position

Friday, January 8th, 2016

tiger pride jpmorgan bank mba etbuJPMorgan Chase has a new Head of Mortgage Servicing who is an alumnus of East Texas Baptist University. Peter Muriungi, who received his Master of Business Administration degree from ETBU in December 1998, was named to the position recently.

Muriungi was chosen as the new head of Mortgage Servicing to replace Mike Weinbach, who was named CEO of Chase’s Mortgage Banking division in December.

According to

Muriungi joined Chase in 2013. Prior to being named head of Mortgage Servicing with Chase, he worked for the last year as the head of Shared Services with the Mortgage Banking Leadership team. His team played a key role in making sure that Chase met all the requirements of the National Mortgage Settlement and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s consent order, which was enacted in June 2015. Chase was just released from the OCC’s consent order after the OCC determined that the bank is now in full compliance with the terms of the 2013 Independent Foreclosure Review.

“Under Peter’s leadership, we’ve made significant improvements in how we serve our customers, while meeting all regulatory requirements,” Weinbach said, also noting that Muriungi’s team has “successfully enabled us to tie how we do business with the regulations we follow.”

To read the complete story at, click here.

ETBU Grad Elected President of Pastors Conference

Monday, November 30th, 2015
ETBU grad Nathan Davis (left) was elected as president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention Pastors Conference. He is standing with vice-president Jason McGuffie and secretary/treasuere Thumper Miller. Photo by Brian Blacwell of the Louisiana Baptist Message.

ETBU grad Nathan Davis (left) was elected as president of the Louisiana Baptist Convention Pastors Conference. He is standing with vice-president Jason McGuffie and secretary/treasurer Thumper Miller. Photo by Brian Blacwell of the Louisiana Baptist Message.

The newly elected president of the Louisiana Baptist Pastors Conference is a 2002 graduate of East Texas Baptist University. Dr. Nathan Davis, pastor of First Baptist Church of Coushatta, La., was elected at this year’s conference held at First Baptist Church Bossier City, La., Nov. 8-9th.

Brad Jurkovich, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bossier City, was quoted in the October 22 edition of the Louisiana Baptist Message, “I have known Nathan to be a godly man and leader. He and I received Doctorates from Southwestern Seminary together. He is strong biblically, shepherds his congregation with faith and vision and is committed to seeing Southern Baptist make a difference for Christ throughout Louisiana, America and the world.”

Since 2010, Davis has served as pastor of FBC, Coushatta.  The church averages around 160 people in worship and has witnessed 13 baptisms from Aug. 31, 2014 to Sept. 1 of this year.  His wife, Melanie (Latiolais) graduated from ETBU in 2000.  Melanie is a stay at home mom with their children, Reagan and McKinley.

Davis is the pastor of current Miss ETBU Morgan Garrett who plays on the Lady Tiger Basketball Team.

The Singing Sergeant of the USAF

Thursday, November 12th, 2015
USAF Singing Sergeants member Hannah Riggs Shirey sings the National Anthem at the New England-Washington NFL game. Shirey is a 2010 graduate of ETBU. Photo shared by Dr. Tom Webster

USAF Singing Sergeants member Hannah Riggs Shirey sings the National Anthem at the New England-Washington NFL game. Shirey is a 2010 graduate of ETBU. Photo shared by Dr. Tom Webster

One never knows where a graduate of East Texas Baptist University may show up out in the world. How about the singing of the National Anthem at a National Football League game?

ETBU Dean of the School of Communications and Performing Arts Dr. Tom Webster shared with Tiger Pride on Monday about graduate Hannah Riggs Shirey doing just that. Technical Sergeant Shirey is a member of the United States Air Force Singing Sergeants. The Tomball, Texas native sang the National Anthem at the New England Patriots – Washington Redskins game played this past Sunday at Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts (New England won 27-10).

Shirey graduated in May 2010 with a degree in vocal performance. Then she went to Southern Methodist University earning her Master’s degree in vocal performance. Since August 2013, she has been a member of the official chorus of the United States Air Force.

This past September, former ETBU Director of Admissions and graduate Jason Soles was in Baltimore attending an Orioles baseball game. Guess who sang the National Anthem that evening? Yes, it was Shirey. Two ETBU alums in the same ballpark in Maryland at the same time.

As a member of the Singing Sergeants, she was part of the chorus when Renee Fleeming sang the National Anthem at Super Bowl XLVIII.  Shirey has sang God Bless America at Yankee Stadium this past July.

Dr. Webster also shared, later in the Patriots-Redskins game she sang God Bless America as well.


Rev. Richard Jones Retires after 27 Years of Service

Friday, September 25th, 2015
ETBC alum Rev. Richard Jones retiring after 27 years as pastor of Calvary Baptist Church.

ETBC alum Rev. Richard Jones retiring after 27 years as pastor of Calvary Baptist Church.

On Sunday, September 27, Rev. Richard Jones will preach his final Sunday sermon as pastor of Calvary Baptist Church of Longview. He is retiring as pastor of Calvary after serving for more than 27 years.

Jones is a graduate of East Texas Baptist College and a member of the Tiger Athletic Hall of Fame. He played baseball for the Tigers during his time on the Hilltop.  Jones has also served East Texas Baptist University, as a member of the Board of Trustees.

In a story written by Christina Lane and published in the Longview News-Journal, she writes about Jones conversation experience while a student at ETBC.

Lane writes:

When he entered college, Jones was not a believer.

“Some of my teammates noticed by the way I talked that I wasn’t a believer,” he recalled, “and they began to pray for me.”

That was in August of 1963.

On the night of March 17, 1964 — a date Jones remembers with excellent clarity — Jones walked into a room and found one of his teammates sitting with a Bible in his lap.

“He asked me, ‘Jonesy (that was my nickname), if you died right now where would you go?’ ”

Jones recalled as he began to weep.

Jones told him he did not know; no one could know.

“He said, ‘Well, I know,’ ” Jones recalled. His friend talked to him about God, Jesus and the holy word. On that night, Jones said, he gave his life to Christ.

To read the complete story published by the Longview News-Journal on September 5, click here.

Thank you Rev. Richard Jones for your longtime service to Calvary Baptist Church and to ETBU.

Two ETBU Grads Honored for Civil Service

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

law enformecemntAt the Greater Marshall Chamber of Commerce annual Law Enforcement and Firefighters Appreciation Dinner two alumni of East Texas Baptist University were honored.  The event is held to award excellence in civil service from more than 30 local police, fire and volunteer civil servant organizations in Harrison County.

John Patterson, who graduated in 2004 with a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Computer Information Systems, received the Reserve Law Enforcement Merit Award. Patterson is a Reserve Captain for the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department.

The other alumnus was Michael Cucinotta. He is a 2011 graduate with a Bachelor degree in University Studies. Cucinotta, who played on the Tiger football team while at ETBU, received the Emergency Medical Technician Merit Award. He serves with the Marshall Fire Department.

Congratulations to these Tigers who are serving the citizens of Harrison County.

Click here to read the complete story from the Marshall News Messenger.

The dinner was held at the Marshall Convention Center on September 22, 2015.

ETBC Alum Writes Two Books

Monday, September 7th, 2015

book alumniEast Texas Baptist College graduate DeLacy “Lacy” A. Andrews, Jr. serves as a regional home missionary of the Presbytery of the Southeast in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Tennessee. Even though his service as a home missionary is time consuming he has found time to write Christian historical fiction novels.

Andrews was featured recently in an article written by Marshall News Messenger News Editor Cait Shields. He has just released two self-published novels: “The Pilgrimage: The Shepard of Kedar: Book 1” and “Ascending Mount Zion: The Shepherd of Kedar: Book 2.”

In a press release Andrews said, “I want readers to get a sense of what it was like to be a Jew who loves God and yet lives in a fallen world.  I want them to experience the urgency of the need to worship the one, true God.”

The two novels are available on  To read the article published in the Marshall News Messenger about Lacy, click here.