Wayland alums, students keep things "in the family"

Traditions among families are no rarity, and often, higher education plays into that. For some, where to attend college is something decided long before the new grandchild is even walking. It's often a case of going where your grandparents and parents went just to continue the tradition.

Though not as prevalent as when it first started, today's student population at Wayland Baptist University still has a good number of family ties.

"Back in the 1960s, they started a program called 'Proud Heirs,' which included anyone who'd had a relative attend Wayland, whether it was a mother or father or sister or cousin or whatever," said Joe Provence, Director of Alumni Services.

"There's not as many as there used to be, but there are still a lot of kids who have ties."

Two such notable families threaded throughout WBU history - the Turners and the Harris-DeWeses - have members here as students currently. Eddie Turner, a 1972 graduate, has worked at Wayland for 28 years as bookstore manager. His daughter, Andrea, is currently a senior and her cousins, April Jackson and Jacob Burke, are both sophomores at WBU. Cousins Braxton Edwards, a senior, and Jeremy Harris, a sophomore, are currently holding the fort for the Harris-DeWese clan.

The Turner tie to Wayland goes back to the early 20th century, when grandfather Otto Burnes Freeman ventured from his hometown of Friona to work on the construction crew at Gates Hall. His daughter, Kathleen, married Cecil Turner and the family farmed near Hale Center for many years. During the 1950s, Kathleen enrolled in several religion classes at WBU for continuing education purposes, and the couple supported the university by sending regular financial gifts and by hosting foreign students in their home over the holidays.

The Turners had four children, all of whom graduated from Wayland: Viki Turner Hicks enrolled in 1967, followed by Eddie in 1968, Kathie Turner Jackson in 1970 and Terri Turner Burke in 1974. Kathie and Terri both married Wayland alums: Mike Jackson graduated in 1973 and Doug Burke graduated in 1978.

The tradition continued with many of the Turner grandchildren. Matt Jackson was the first grandchild to enter WBU, graduating in 1999, with cousins Erin Turner West and husband Damon graduating in 2001. Several generations of family sprouting from Eddie's wife, Sue Hammit Turner, have also called WBU their alma mater. Josh Rieff, a current WBU student from Hale Center, is among that line.

"Wayland has always been a part of my family; it's always been a part of life," said Eddie Turner. "It makes me feel good (to have such extended family ties) because my feeling is that Wayland is home for me." Another family with extensive WBU ties is the Hicks-Jackson families. The tradition spans four generations in that family, beginning in 1910 with Isaac Wilson Hicks, who attended Wayland in her early academy days. His three daughters, Evelyn Hicks Allen, Mary Hicks Jackson and Leilafaye Hicks Bearden all attended Wayland in the 1940s, with several of their children continuing the trend. Adele Allen Price, Tommie Joe Allen, Betty Jean Allen Kersh, Mary Vernon Jackson McGinnis, Linda Jackson Longsdorf and Jon David Jackson rounded out the third generation.

Elbert Wesley Jackson, the first generation from the Jackson family to attend, came to Wayland in the late 1920s and is in the athletic Hall of Honor. His son, Vernon, married Mary Hicks. Several other spouses along the way attended WBU. The last members in that line to attend Wayland were Marianne McGinnis (1990), her brother Paul McGinnis (1992) and his wife Maryann Wright McGinnis, who graduated in 1994.

A similar picture is painted by the Harris family, with several siblings attending Wayland: Glen (1951), Roy (1958), Rachel Painter (1959), Dale (1960) and Velma DeWese (1962). Glen's son Pat graduated from WBU in 1984. Two of Pat's sons will be attending in the fall: Jeremy, a sophomore, and Josh, a freshman.

Continuing the second generation was Suzanne Painter Alford (1981), and Bennie DeWese Edwards (1971). The third tier continued with Gayla Edwards Kelley (1994) and Braxton Edwards, a junior at WBU from Bushland.

Several Wayland staff and faculty have family ties as well, with many having graduated and having children graduated, or having been in the line of several generations of attendees. Danny Murphree, currently the director of property management, graduated in 1969, followed by a sister, Carolyn Murphree Wiseman (1977) and a brother, Jim (1980). Their father, Curtis, served on the Board of Trustees during later decades. Carolyn's husband, Kevin Wiseman, also graduated from WBU in 1977, and their children Sheila (2001) and Kyle also attended. Danny's wife, Linda Allen Murphree, graduated in 1971, and their son David also attended.