CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) – West Texas A&M University announced that four prominent alumni and other community leaders will be honored during Homecoming Week festivities with its “WT Celebration of Color” event on Oct. 13.
According to WT, the event will be held at 6 p.m. on Oct. 13 in Legacy Hall in the Jack B. Kelley Student Center on WT’s Canyon campus. Tickets for the event are available online and begin at $35, including dinner.
The celebration, said WT, began in 2021 in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the integration of WT’s campus and is put on as an effort to recognize WT alumni of color who have made impacts professionally and in their communities.
“There are never too many occasions to honor our alumni,” said Angela Allen, director of WT’s Office for Engaged Citizenship, “This moment presents a wonderful opportunity for us to demonstrate to our current students the multitude of possibilities that await them after their time at the University. It’s an ideal occasion to express our deep pride and appreciation for the accomplishments of our esteemed alumni.”
Organizers said that the 2023 event will include community service awards being presented as well as the honoring of four alumni, including a groundbreaking Black politician, a Dallas-area entrepreneur and record-breaking WT quarterback, a prominent former WT athlete turned teacher, and a professor emeritus of nursing.
WT said that the community service awards will be presented to Lilia Escajeda, a recent President’s Panhandle Pioneer Award recipient and community consultant for Amarillo National Bank, and David and Sherry Schaeffer, WT’s One West campaign leadership committee members.
Meanwhile, WT also listed the four alumni to be honored:
- Elisha Demerson, vice-chair of the St. Anthony’s Legacy and Redevelopment Corp. and senior pastor of Emmanuel Temple Church
- Demerson worked for several decades for the National Nuclear Security Administration at Pantex, and was the first Black person to be elected in each of his three respective local offices: the Potter County Commissioners Court, Potter County Judge, and the Amarillo City Council.
- Victor McGee, founder of McGee’s Sportswear and member of WT’s Hall of Champions as well as the Kilgore Junior College Football Hall of Fame
- McGee was a record-setting quarterback for the WT Buffalos football team in the 1980s and ranks No. 9 in WT’s all-time passing list. He then went on to play in the Canadian Football League, then worked for both Texas Eastman Chemical and Westlake Chemical Co. before starting his own businesses. He has also worked with the Longview Chamber of Commerce, the Boys and Girls Club and other nonprofits.
- Milton Smith, standup comedian and special education teacher for the Fort Worth Independent School District
- Smith was an active member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and also was part of the 1977 WT football team that won the Missouri Valley Conference Championship. He then went on to his involvement with the US Army, where he toured as a standup comedian for troops, before returning to WT to earn his master of arts degree.
- Dolores Neal Thompson, board member for numerous community organizations and professor emeritus after serving as an assistant professor of nursing at Amarillo College
- Thompson is the daughter of both the first Black graduate of WT and the first Black faculty member, Helen and Nathaniel Neal. She earned a master of science in nursing from WT in 1974 and went on to have a long career involving teaching at the Northwest Texas Hospital School of Nursing and working at St. Anthony’s Hospital. She serves on the boards for organizations including Olivia’s Angels, Bi-City County Health Department, Panhandle Breast Health, League of Women Voters and Friends of the Library alongside her other volunteer work. She is a past Educator of the Year from the Amarillo chapter of the NAACP and also a 2010 Girl Scouts Woman of Distinction.
Further information on the event can be found here, alongside more information about WT Homecoming Week celebrations.