PLAINVIEW – Approximately 100 guests, dignitaries and Wayland Baptist University Trustees crowded into the small auditorium at the Museum of the Llano Estacado to witness the unveiling of the name for the new men’s dormitory.
Joined on the podium by Donna Meade Dean, widow of Jimmy Dean, Wayland President Dr. Paul Armes praised the late country entertainer for his passion for his craft, contributions to education and the “best sausage made in America.”
“As a token of our appreciation for the relationship we have had and continue to have with this wonderful couple, and as a way of honoring the life and passion and dreams of Jimmy, it is my honor and privilege to announce that this beautiful new structure will be named Jimmy Dean Hall,” Armes said.
An emotional Donna Dean spoke to the audience after an artist’s rendering of the building containing the words “Jimmy Dean Hall” above the front door.
“I’m terribly emotional,” she said. “Jimmy used to say I would cry at card tricks.”
Dean said that Jimmy would be proud to have his name connected to Wayland.
“Jimmy’s passion in life was education,” Dean said. “He didn’t get to graduate from high school because he had to support his family, but he educated himself nonetheless.
“He educated himself and he always felt that education was the key to success.”
In 2008, Jimmy and Donna Dean donated $1 million to Wayland – the largest cash gift ever given to the school. Since that time, the Deans have continued to support the school. Jimmy, who was born in Olton and raised in Seth Ward, just north of Plainview, died at his home in Richmond, VA, in 2010. The 94,000 square foot facility bearing his name is three stories, consisting of 175 rooms with 300 beds. It is scheduled for completion this summer and will be open to house students in the fall of 2012.
“May all those who walk the halls of Dean Hall and all those who inhabit it, be blessed,” Dean said.