Special to the Alpine Daily Planet
Former Del Rio Mayor Dora G. Alcala, Trappings of Texas founder Gary Dunshee of Alpine and former U.S. Rep. J.T. “Slick” Rutherford will be honored as Sul Ross State University Distinguished Alumni during Homecoming 2012.
In addition, Peggy and Dan Allen Hughes Jr. of Beeville will receive the Slingin’ Sammy Baugh Award for Outstanding Service during the Distinguished Alumni/Hall of Honor banquet on Nov. 3 in the Morgan University Center.
Five new members will be inducted into the Hall of Honor, the late Victor Villarreal and the late Don Bandy; Natalie Whitewood Johns of Center Point; and Outstanding Boosters Metha Sprinkle of Alpine and her late husband, Bill.
Alcala, who graduated cum laude in 1978, earlier attended Southwest Texas Junior College. She later received a master’s degree in management from Webster University in St. Louis, Mo. She was the first woman elected mayor in Del Rio’s history, serving three terms until 2006. She ran unsuccessfully for Texas House District 74 earlier this year.
She was appointed to the Texas State University System Board of Regents by Gov. Rick Perry in 2004, serving a six-year term. Her swearing-in ceremony occurred at the Alpine campus.
“It was a wonderful honor to be sworn in at my alma mater,” she said. “My most memorable experience was serving on the Board of Regents and the committee with Sul Ross and to be able to be there when (Sul Ross) was building the new student housing,” Alcala said. “I enjoyed all my years on the board, looking after the development of the campus as we were growing. It (new housing) was a step in the right direction.”
Regarding her Distinguished Alumni Award, Alcala said, “What a nice surprise! That is quite an honor when your alma mater recognizes you,”
Alcala also credited her peers and professors for skills and education received: “We learn from each other and that’s important.”
Alcala was a management consultant and motivational speaker for Alcala & Associates, which she formed after retirement. She also served 37 years as a civilian for the Department of Defense and the Air Force. In 1990, she received an appointment from President George H.W. Bush as the deputy for Equal Opportunity for the United States Air Force and attained the rank of senior executive.
Alcala served on the Texas Military Preparedness Commission and is past chair of the Texas Border Infrastructure Coalition. She serves/served numerous community organizations including the Del Rio Child Welfare and United Way boards, the Pan American Round Table and International Good Neighbor Council.
She received the Distinguished Public Service Award from the governor of New Mexico, the California Hispanic Woman of the Year from the Mexican-American Opportunity Foundation and the Woman of the Year Award from the National Council on Hispanic Women. In 1998, Alcala also received the Yellow Rose of Texas Award from Gov. George W. Bush. In May she received the 2012 Woman of Distinction Award given by the Texas Association of Mexican-American Chambers of Council.
She and her husband, Alfonso, have three children.
Dunshee, a 1973 Sul Ross graduate, has been an active supporter and fundraiser for Sul Ross rodeo and other activities in the School of Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences. He competed in rodeo for two years as a student and is a former president of the ANRS and Rodeo Exes. He was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2008.
Known nationwide for his saddle-making skills, Dunshee has demonstrated his work at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., and San Antonio’s Folkstyle Institute (Institute of Texan Cultures). He bought Big Bend Saddlery in 1977 after working there since 1971, and Brett Collier joined as a partner in 1979. The business has done custom work for Tom Selleck, Larry Mahan, Charlie Daniels, Sam Shepard and Nolan Ryan, among others.
Dunshee helped organize several ranch rodeos and later worked with the WRCA World Championship Ranch Rodeo to raise money for Sul Ross scholarships. For a number of years, he built saddles for the men’s and women’s all-around champions at the annual Sul Ross NIRA Rodeo, and has built World Championship and Rookie of the Year saddles for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. He is a member of the ANRS Advisory Board and an avid recruiter.
Dunshee, a native of Tucumcari, N.M., is a founder of the annual Trappings of Texas, a juried invitational exhibit that brings together the best contemporary cowboy gear and art. He served as Trappings curator for 16 years. In addition, he has sponsored numerous community and regional events. He is also a corporate sponsor of the Working Ranch Cowboys Association and founder of the Big Bend Ranch Rodeo’s Chuck Wagon Cook-off. Dunshee also helped with the formation of the Sul Ross Ranch Horse team.
He and his wife, Hillary, a graduate of the Sul Ross licensed vocational nursing program, have two children, Wade and Mattie.
“We have always been proponents of Sul Ross and helped whenever we could,” Dunshee said. “Sul Ross has been a part of me since I started out as a student. It’s been good to us and we have tried to do what we can for them.”
Rutherford, who died in 2006, attended Sul Ross from 1947-48 after transferring from San Angelo College (now Angelo State University). After Sul Ross, he attended the Baylor University Law School. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1942-46; was elected to the Texas House from 1948-52; was a member of the Texas Senate from 1953 to 1954, then was a U.S. congressman from 1955-63.
Rutherford was the first chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Parks and was instrumental in the creation of the Fort Davis National Historic Site. In 1962, he was awarded the U.S. Department of Interior’s Conservation Service Award. He represented the old 16th District, which extended from Midland to El Paso and for hundreds of miles along the U.S.-Mexico border, an area of more than 42,000 square miles.
While in Congress, he served on a number of committees, including the House Banking and Currency Committee; House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee; and was chair of the House Armed Services Committee.
Born in Hot Springs, Ark., he moved with his family to Odessa in 1934 and attended public schools. He enlisted in the Marine Corps and spent 28 months overseas during World War II. He was wounded in action and awarded the Purple Heart. During his years of active and reserve service, he rose in rank from private to major.
His belief in providing good care for military veterans led him to be active in the Veterans of Foreign Wars and served a two-year term as state commander in the 1950s.
While at Sul Ross, he met his future wife, Sara Jane Armstrong. After completing his education, Rutherford was a partner in an industrial electrical construction firm and owner of an advertising company. After leaving Congress, he formed J.T. Rutherford & Associates, a government relations consulting firm, retiring in 1988.
Even as a congressman, Rutherford remained a prominent Sul Ross ex-student, twice serving as keynote speaker during Homecoming. Among the friendships he made at Sul Ross were Dan Blocker, who starred as Hoss Cartwright in the TV series “Bonanza,” and Gene Hendryx, Alpine broadcasting pioneer, former state representative and athletic Hall of Honor member.
“Since my parents met there, I credit the place with my beginnings,” said daughter Ann Rutherford, who will accept the award on her father’s behalf. “One of the things he did early on was start up the College Inn. He saw the need for a hangout at Sul Ross,” she said.
“He loved that part of the country and was very proud of his efforts in establishing the Fort Davis National Historic Site and Guadalupe (Mountains) National Park,” she said.
Rutherford’s wife died in 2004. They are buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The couple had three children, Ann of Arlington, Va., Charles of Denton and Jane of Alexandria, Va.
Dan Allen and Peggy Hughes established Sul Ross’ first endowed position with a $1 million gift earlier this year. The couple has a deep commitment to wildlife/land conservation, and Dan Allen serves on the advisory board of the Borderlands Research Institute at Sul Ross. In 2009, he was appointed to a six-year term on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.
Allen is president of Dan A. Hughes Co. and Hupecol Operating Co., and CEO of Maverick American Natural Gas. He is a member of the Texas A&M University College of Geosciences 2 Advisory Council the All American Wildcatters. He is a 1980 Texas A&M University graduate.
Peggy Gorden Hughes is a 1982 Texas A&M graduate, a member of the Council of Athletic Ambassadors and the San Antonio Champions Council. She is a trustee of the 12th Man Foundation and a member of the San Antonio Charity Ball Association, San Antonio Symphony, Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority and Alamo Heights Methodist Church.
They are the parents of three children.