Longtime Lubbock resident leaves legacy to Wayland 

October 14, 2010

PLAINVIEW – Wayland Baptist University is proud of the legacy it has left on the South Plains and beyond over its 102-year existence. But they are even more proud of the individuals who have left a legacy of their own through Wayland in the way of estate gifts.

One of those making a recent substantial impact was Mary Mathis, a longtime friend of Wayland’s Lubbock campus who died Aug. 19 at the age of 94. Over the past few decades, Mathis had made financial support of the campus a regular pattern, providing a piano, technology needs, a prayer garden, and an endowed scholarship in her name for Lubbock Campus students.

Most recently, she had given $50,000 to the Plainview campus’ Mabee Learning Resources Center and the Writing Center, in honor of her longtime friends the Wigners and their son and daughter-in-law, both of whom earned WBU degrees and now work at the library.

Upon Mathis’ death, however, she was able to make an even bigger impact on the campus by leaving Wayland in her will. The Lubbock campus received assets, land and annuities valued at more than $1.5 million, all of which will be used for scholarships and development of the campus.

“Mary was a longtime friend of Wayland,” said Dr. Kent Brooks, Director of Development at the Lubbock campus and a personal friend of Mathis. “She was really a part of the Wayland family over the years, even though she wasn’t physically there. She was there in spirit and was a great prayer partner for us.”

Brooks said he first met Mathis when he joined Wayland as dean of the Lubbock campus in 1985. Then-development director Bruce Ayers of the Plainview campus mentioned that Mathis was leaving part of her estate to Wayland and Brooks decided to make a personal visit to her home. From then on, a friendship blossomed, both with Brooks and his family as well as with the university.

Brooks said he wasn’t sure what the connection with Wayland was that prompted Mathis’ decision to leave part of her estate to WBU, except that she had some cousins who taught in Plainview in the late 1920s. When he began visiting her, she had recently lost her twin sister But the two forged a friendship, and Brooks said Mathis was always interested in what was happening at Wayland when he visited. He filled her in about the growth, changes and moves, and even had her out to the campus for a reception in her honor when the university moved the Lubbock branch into the old Charter Plains Hospital facility on North Quaker. Though it was the last time Mathis was able to physically be on campus, Brooks said she remained a very active part of the Wayland family.

“I would always tell the staff about how she was doing and they were always interested in what was going on with her as well,” he said. “I would go see her nearly every week and my whole family got to know her as well, even my grandchildren.”

Brooks said Mathis often mentioned a television interview he had with then-First Baptist Church pastor Dr. D.L. Lowrie when he first came to the Wayland campus, in which he had shared about the school and its growth and history. That interview piqued Mathis’ interest in Wayland more and sparked her desire to give to the university while she was still living. All told, Brooks said she gave more than $200,000 over the past few decades.

She also introduced Brooks to a friend, Ruby Bayne, and was instrumental in Bayne setting up an endowed scholarship for the Lubbock Campus as well. The scholarships are used to assist adult students who are returning to complete their education at the Lubbock Campus, many at night while they work full-time during the day. The campus has an enrollment of 680 students, most of whom are pursuing undergraduate degrees in a variety of majors. Classes are offered in the evenings, on weekends and online for maximum flexibility for students.

Mathis’ estate also benefited the ministries of First Baptist Church of Lubbock and the Baptist Children’s Home of Round Rock. She graduated from Texas Tech in 1937 and taught school in Big Spring and Sterling City before returning to Lubbock to teach at Lubbock High. She left teaching to take over the business side of the family farming enterprise, which had operations in Lubbock, Dawson and Hockley counties. She taught Sunday school at First Baptist for more than 60 years in the children’s department.