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Blinn names Larry and Mary Whigham its people of the year

Jim Ellison, Wilbert Horstmann, J. Hal Machat and Ron Schmidt also inducted into the Blinn Hall of Honor

Larry and Mary Whigham its people of the year

October 3, 2015

Blinn College recognized Larry and Mary Whigham as its 2015 people of the year Saturday during its annual Hall of Honor luncheon on the Blinn-Brenham campus.

Jim Ellison, Wilbert Horstmann, J. Hal Machat and Ron Schmidt were also inducted into the Hall of Honor, which recognizes Blinn’s most distinguished alumni, local business leaders and those who have made a significant impact in their communities or professions.

With the addition of this year’s class, Blinn has now inducted 67 members to its Hall of Honor.

A Houston native, Larry Whigham retired after 34 years with Shell Oil and moved to Washington County in 1993. A graduate of the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Science in mathematics, Larry served as president of the Washington County Wildlife Association and the Texas Organization of Wildlife Management Associations, where he served as liaison to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

An exceptional supporter of the theatre arts, Larry took courses in set building and volunteered to assist in building sets while a student at Blinn. Previously he volunteered with the Navasota Theatre Alliance as a set builder and actor, volunteered with the Brazos Valley TROUPE in set design and construction and served as archivist for Blinn’s Theatre Arts Department.

Larry worked with the Blinn Foundation for the purchase of the Whigham House and funded the purchase of two baby grand pianos for the Music Department. He has generously donated to Blinn’s annual Young Pianist Competition and various Foundation events.

After attending Rice University and the University of Houston, Mary Whigham worked in financial services at Cigna/Allamerica for more than 20 years until retiring in 1995. She volunteered with the Navasota Theater Alliance from 1995–2005, serving as president of the board, theater manager, painter and costumer, and has been a member of the Fortnightly Club of Brenham since 1997, including service as president.

Mary served on the Fortnightly Nancy Carol Roberts Memorial Library Board as president/member and served on the City of Brenham Library Board. She has held various offices as a member of the Washington County Genealogical Society, including president, vice president and newsletter editor, and is a member of the Dr. Richard Fox Brenham Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, where she currently serves as president and is on the state finance committee.

She is a member of the Texas German Society and the German-Texas Heritage Society, where she has served as board member and president and serves as the editor of their quarterly publication, “The Journal.”
Mary has served as a board member and special projects coordinator for the Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park Association and serves as treasurer of the Washington Historical Cemetery Association. She is a member of the Blinn Foundation Board and serves on the finance committee.

The chairman of the board at Ellison’s Greenhouses, Inc., Ellison is an international leader in the floriculture industry, serves on the Chancellor’s Century Council at Texas A&M University and has served as president of the Brenham Rotary Club and director of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

A World War II veteran whose service included guarding the Enola Gay prior to its mission to drop the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, Horstmann returned from the war to attend Blinn, where he helped resurrect the baseball program and served as team captain. Horstmann spent 35 years as a highway patrol officer with the Texas Department of Public Safety, serving his first year in Three Rivers before spending the remaining 34 years in Hallettsville.

A former Harris County precinct judge and member of Blinn’s Class of 1954, Machat is an active leader in the Rotary Club, the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County, the Blinn College Alumni & Friends Association and Lettermen’s Association, Old Main Society, Heritage Club, 1845 Society, Endowed Scholarship Society and the Baylor Alumni Association. In 2011, a generous gift from Machat and his wife Allyne allowed Blinn to add 9,515 square feet of classrooms, labs and additional rehearsal halls to its band hall, and the facility was renamed the J. Hal and Allyne Machat Music Facility.

The general manager of Texas Commercial Waste, Schmidt has been an active leader in the Bryan/College Station community for almost 35 years, playing a key role in numerous civic organizations and even helping Blinn identify the location for its largest campus. Schmidt’s community service includes work with the Bryan/College Station Jaycees, Leadership Brazos, the Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce, the Blinn Foundation, Junction 505, the Bryan Rotary Club, Keep Brazos Beautiful, the Boys & Girls Club of the Brazos Valley, Brazos Animal Shelter, the Sister Cities Organization, Fiestas Patrias, BVCASA, the city of Bryan, Festifall, the Research Valley Partnership and the Brazos Valley Council of Governments.

For full biographies of each of this year’s honorees, please visit:

About Blinn College
A comprehensive community college committed to educational excellence and to individual and community enhancement, Blinn College has served its 13-county Central Texas region since 1883. With an enrollment of 19,422 students, Blinn ranks among the nation’s leaders in transferring students to leading four-year universities and has received national recognition for affordable educational excellence.

Blinn offers job seekers the skills and credentials they need to succeed in the region’s fast-growing industries, and partners with local businesses to provide skills development training for incumbent employees. Each year, Blinn programs and students make a $345.3 million impact on the local economy.

For more information about Blinn College and exciting student success initiatives such as Destination Success: First-Year Focus and the Blinn TEAM Program, visit or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

PHOTO – From left: J. Hal Machat; Susan Myers, accepting on behalf of Wilbert Horstmann; Jim Ellison; Mary Whigham; Larry Whigham; and Ron Schmidt.