Longtime Educators to be Honored at Homecoming

September 11, 2019

Portrait of Vernon and Belva Stokes
Vernon and Belva Stokes

Dr. Vernon and Mrs. Belva Stokes, longtime educators, will be honored as Distinguished Alumni Benefactors of Wayland Baptist University during the fall 2019 homecoming festivities. The awards will be presented at the homecoming banquet at 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 1 at the Pete and Nelda Laney Student Activities Center.

The Stokeses are both Wayland graduates, with Belva completing her degree in 1960 and Vernon in 1959. A native of Morton, Belva played her first two years for the Flying Queens basketball program, most notably during the 131-game win streak. She met Vernon, a native of Sundown, at Wayland and the two married in 1958.

Both spent careers in public education, serving as school teachers in Midland and Burleson for many years and Vernon moving into school administration after earning graduate degrees at Texas Tech. He retired in 2000 with 42 years of service; Belva retired in 1992. They live in Midland, where they are active members of First Baptist Church. Vernon teaches a Sunday school class and Belva serves as in-reach leader. He has also been a lay music leader for churches for 25-plus years and a deacon for 53 years.

While the Stokeses have been recognized in the past for their leadership and accomplishments – Vernon won the Distinguished Alumni Leadership Award in 1987 and served on the WBU Board of Trustees for 19 years – this year’s honor focuses on the support the couple has provided to Wayland for many decades.

“The Stokeses have modeled generous support for their alma mater since graduation, giving to a variety of programs and special projects without hesitation,” said Teresa Young, director of alumni relations. “They established two endowed scholarships, creating a family legacy that will bless Wayland students for generations to come. Above all, Vernon and Belva are humble, grateful givers, seeing their gifts as investments to the kingdom of God and thanks for His many blessings. That’s what makes them such beloved donors at Wayland.”

The pair has supported the Annual Fund, the Sally Society women’s philanthropy group, and special capital projects and campaigns, and they established two different endowed scholarships. One is in their own name and the other in memory of two daughters both lost to cancer. They have received the Keeper of the Flame Award for lifetime gifts exceeding $100,000 and are part of Wayland’s Founder’s Club, comprised of individuals with Wayland in their estate plans.

The Stokes have four children, 14 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Tickets to the homecoming banquet are $15 per person and can be secured by calling Young at (806) 291-3600 by Oct. 25.

Homecoming at Wayland starts on Friday morning with the traditional chapel service and includes guest lectures, theatre performances, honor class reunions for years ending in “9” and various athletic events, including the Athletic Hall of Honor induction of the Flying Queens from 1948-82, the same group being inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in September. The weekend caps off with a celebratory outdoor concert at Harral Auditorium featuring food trucks and free live entertainment. For more information on Wayland’s homecoming and links to register, visit the website at www.wbualumni.com/homecoming .