Weatherford College recognized three alumni during the annual Alumni Awards Luncheon on Friday, April 12, in Texas Hall of the Alkek Fine Arts Center.
Dr. Molly Harris and Keith Loftis were both recognized as Distinguished Alumni, and Jon Vandagriff was awarded the Alumnus of the Year Award.
Brent Baker, vice president of institutional advancement, introduced Vandagriff who, in addition to his lifetime accomplishments as a journalist, educator and historian was the right man and the right time to be named WC’s 2019 Alumnus of the Year.
“In our sesquicentennial year as we look back on the history and heritage of this institution, could the selection committee have chosen anyone but the man known as Parker County’s historian,” Baker asked. “Could there have been a better time after Jon spent nearly two years painstakingly writing our pictorial history book? . . . He has contributed something very meaningful and long lasting to Weatherford College.”
Vandagriff is a 1955 graduate of WC and hails from a long-line of WC alumni including his aunt, uncle and siblings. Attending WC was one of the unwritten laws in the Vandagriff household growing up.
He began his journalism career at the Weatherford Democrat around the same time he started classes on WC’s Old Main campus on South Main Street and was nervous freshman when college president Vernon Parrott called him into his office. Parrott asked Vandagriff to serve as the college’s press representative and, after John happily agreed, presented him with a press pass entitling him to free admission to all college events.
“Better than that, it said I would have excused cuts from classes,” Vandagriff said. “How great an introduction to college is that?”
But it was history instructor Bill Raupe that changed Vandagriff’s life.
“In class we had three walls of blackboard and he would start on a Civil War battle and go all the way around [the room],” he said. “And I realized then that’s what I really wanted to do. I really wanted to know about history, and I wanted to follow that through.”
And he did. Vandagriff has authored three local history books and retired after 34 years as an instructor in higher education. He remains a regular guest speaker at educational events at the Doss Heritage and Culture Center.
Harris is a 1998 graduate of WC and is currently assistant to the president at Grayson College and adjunct speech instructor at WC. She reflected on her time as a Coyote and how people like Mike Endy and Jim Boyd set her on her path – Boyd by inspiring her to pursue higher education leadership and Endy who pushed her to move on in her academic career after accumulating 110 credit hours.
“Had it not been for those two moments in my life I may still be a student at Weatherford College, 575 hours later,” she joked. “I don’t know what would have happened, but I needed that kick out of the nest. And because of that I have kicked several students out of the nest.”
Loftis, a 1992 WC alumnus and professional saxophone player, is currently an instructor for the United States Jazz Reach Program in New York and teaches film scoring. He reflected on his introduction to WC while he was a senior in high school who was recruited to fill in an open slot in the WC Jazz Band’s performance at the national jazz convention in San Diego.
“What really touched me was the family that continues to be here at Weatherford College,” he said. “I have so many stories I wish I could tell them all. It is truly a blessing and honor to be able to come home and receive this award.”