Weatherford College celebrated the 50th anniversary of its Alumnus of the Year Award Friday with a special reception in the Speaker Jim Wright Library followed by the annual Alumni Awards Luncheon in the Doss Student Center.
2017 Alumnus of the Year Warren Creason was joined by 10 previous Alumnus of the Year Award winners during the reception that spanned generations of former WC students. Former awardees who attended the reception were: Mildred Beard, Bob Glenn, Roy Grogan, Kurt Harris, Dr. Janie Hott Humphries, Ruth Huse, Doyle Lee, Tom Pritchard, Joe Tison and Dale Young.
Creason, originally from Deming, New Mexico, attended WC on a basketball scholarship from 1974 to 1976 after visiting the campus at the request of friend who was planning to make the move to Texas after high school.
“I met Coach (Dave) Neely on Friday, and I was behind a lawn mower the following Monday (as a work study student),” he said. “If someone says they are intimately familiar with this campus – I’m intimately familiar with this campus. I’ve cleaned every bathroom. I’ve mowed every blade of grass. This is home to me.”
Creason, now a successful commercial real estate developer, grew up in the foster system and lived in three different homes during high school. He said WC was his first home, and playing basketball helped stabilize his life.
“When you are in a situation that is as transitional as the first quarter of my life was – I struggled to find some rhythm,” he said. “At WC I learned work ethic. I learned character, and I learned that those are the things that would make me successful long term. Weatherford prepared me for life.”
Distinguished Alumni Jake Arrieta, Jenny Morris Lewallen and David C. Nicklas were also recognized during the luncheon. Lewallen and Nicklas both shared stories from their college days. Arrieta was unable to attend due to his schedule with the Chicago Cubs.
Lewallen was joined by several family members who also attended the college including her mother, Jean Morris, who graduated from WC in 1941. When Lewallen attended her freshman year in the fall of 1968, it was at the new campus “on the hill.”
“It was out in the country then,” she said. “But one thing has never changed – wind still blows 100 miles per hour on the top of this hill. I’m very honored and very humbled to receive this award. Weatherford College has always had a special place in my heart with a lot of great memories.”
Many of those memories were made as part of the basketball team under Coach Betty Jo Crumm Graber.
“At that time most of the players were from county schools in the area,” Lewallen said. “So a lot of us were arch rivals the spring before and then the next fall we became teammates and best friends. I developed some really good friendships on the basketball team.”
Lewallen is now retired after a career as a national leader in the U.S. Postal Service.
Nicklas, who is currently serving his second term as Palo Pinto County Judge, came to WC after a rough start in college at a Texas university. He said the instructors at WC sat down with him and made sure he understood how to take notes and identify important information from lectures.
“I feel almost embarrassed to be standing up here in front of you folks because there are so many others who are, sometimes, so easily overlooked,” he said. “I can’t say enough about Weatherford College. You just can’t imagine how important gaining that success by graduating from here knowing, ‘I really can do this.’”