University founder's oldest granddaughter dies

March 20, 2010

PLAINVIEW – The oldest living descendent of Wayland Baptist University has died at age 101. Beulah Winn McInnish, a longtime Plainview resident who had lived in an assisted living center in Amarillo for the past four years, died Friday, March 19, in Amarillo.

Born Nov. 3, 1908, McInnish was the only living person who had lived through almost the entire history of Wayland’s existence. She was the granddaughter of Dr. and Mrs. James H. Wayland, a medical doctor and his wife who founded the university in 1906 and helped it receive its charter in August 1908. She was raised by her grandparents from birth when her mother, Beulah Wayland Winn, died in childbirth.

Though a grandchild, Beulah was raised nearly as one the Waylands’ natural children, and she was only a few years younger than the couple’s youngest children, Robert and Marguerite, who were two at the time of her birth.

Dr. Wayland maintained a medical practice that covered a 300-mile radius of Plainview, with an office and drug store downtown. He frequently made trips by horse and buggy across the Texas plains to care for ill patients at home or pregnant women delivering their babies.

In her later years, McInnish could not recall many details of her grandfather’s later years (he died in 1948; Sarah Wayland died in 1955) but she remembered much about the man she called “Papa.”

“He was a good man, and always tried to help people,” she said in interviews with the university a few years before the centennial celebration which kicked off in August 2008 with a dedication of a one-and-one-half-times life-size statue of Dr. Wayland placed in the Mayer Foundation Plaza outside Gates Hall. She recalled many instances of there being guests at the Wayland family dinner table every Sunday afternoon and of the good doctor asking Sarah to cook extra food for him to take out to sick patients with little food of their own.

The generous couple gave $10,000 and 25 acres of land to found a Baptist university in Plainview and the area churches met the challenge to match the funds. Beulah grew up alongside the school, which began holding classes officially in 1910. Dr. Wayland served on the Board of Trustees for many years and continued to support the university financially and in other ways. She attended the school briefly as a young woman and was a supporter of the university that meant so much to her grandfather.

The university held a 100th birthday party for Beulah on Nov. 3, 2008, at the Plainview campus, with a luncheon for Wayland family descendents and an afternoon birthday party for Beulah, attended by members of the WBU staff and community friends.