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Blinn to induct six new members to its Hall of Honor

Larry and Mary Whigham are named 2015 people of the year

September 28, 2015

The Blinn College Alumni & Friends Association has named Larry and Mary Whigham its 2015 people of the year and has named Jim Ellison, Wilbert Horstmann, J. Hal Machat and Ron Schmidt to its Hall of Honor.

The Hall of Honor recognizes Blinn’s most distinguished alumni, local business leaders and those who have made a significant impact in their communities or professions. Inductees are recognized at a luncheon during Blinn’s homecoming festivities each year.

This year’s luncheon will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, in the Brenham campus Student Center’s Janice Sneed Banquet Room. To purchase tickets, contact Kyle Merten, alumni relations director, at 979-830-4495 or

The mission of the Alumni & Friends Association is to maintain contact with all former students and friends of the College, to encourage support for and participate in the educational, cultural, athletic and social programs of the College, to encourage personnel recruitment of students by members, to assist the College in achieving planned goals and objectives and to provide fellowship among former students, friends and support.

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 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.

Ellison served in the U.S. Army from 1956-58, reaching the rank of first lieutenant. He then sold life insurance and worked at Gillette Safety Razor Co., Built Furrs Greenhouses and Research Farms before moving to Brenham and establishing Ellison’s Greenhouses in 1969.

Ellison has been a member of the Rotary Club for more than 40 years and been honored with the Rotary’s Paul Harris Award for Service Above Self. In addition to serving as president of the Brenham Rotary Club, Ellison has served as director of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce and the Washington County welcome signs committee, served on the Washington County ag committee, served as president of the Ron Stone Foundation for Enhancement of Texas History, served as project chairman for the Washington County Heritage Society and currently serves as Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park Association’s Historic La Bahia Pecan Seedling Project chairman. He has also served as a member of the Chappell Hill Heritage Society, the Independence Historical Society and served as a board member for the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County.

Ellison and his wife Ellen established the Ellison Chair in International Floriculture at Texas A&M University, which advances the health and vitality of the floriculture industry on a national and international scope. Additionally, Ellison serves on the Ag Development Council, the Chancellor’s Century Council and is a trustee for the Research Foundation at Texas A&M.

In recognition of his service, Ellison was named Washington County Man of the Year in 2013, has been named a trustee of the American Academy of Floriculture, is a Dewey Compton Memorial Scholarship recipient and earned the Texas Agricultural Extension Service Award for significant contribution to the horticulture industry. He has been inducted into the Hall of Fame for Texas A&M Horticulture and was a charter member of Texas A&M’s College of Agriculture Development Council.

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.

Born Nov. 24, 1924, Horstmann was born in the William Penn community as the youngest of 12 children. At age 4, he lost his father and was raised by his mother, older brother and sisters.

Horstmann was an outstanding running back for the 1942 Brenham Cub football team, the only undefeated and untied football team in program history. Horstmann’s high school education and athletic career were cut short by World War II, as he was drafted and served in the 20th Army Air Force, where he sailed around the world on a Navy troop ship. While serving as a military police officer in North Africa, India and Australia, he concluded his service in the Tinian Islands, where he helped guard the Enola Gay.

Upon completing his military service, Horstmann returned to Brenham and earned his degree at Blinn College. While there, he met and married Hazel Wagner of Shelby, Texas.

Horstmann spent the next 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. Horstmann and his wife raised three children: Gary, Glenn and Susan, all of whom attended Blinn. His daughter Susan is now the executive director of the Blinn College Foundation.

Horstmann was actively involved in numerous civic organizations in Hallettsville, including service as president of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, president of the Lions Club, commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, commander of the Disabled American Veterans, president of the Hallettsville High School Booster Club and manager of the Hallettsville Little League and Babe Ruth League, where he coached his sons. In 1977, he was inducted into the South Central Texas Semi-Pro Baseball Hall of Honor.

Upon his retirement in 1983, Horstmann and his wife Hazel moved to Brenham to be with family and old friends and Horstmann joined the Texas Rangers Special Detachment, where he continued to serve his state until 2008. Following Hazel’s death in 1988, Horstmann married Hilda Schroeder, enjoying 23 years of marriage until Horstmann’s death in 2013.

Horstmann was inducted into the Brenham Football Hall of Honor in 2002, and took great pride in his 57 years of perfect attendance in the Hallettsville and Brenham Lions Clubs. He was a member of the St. John Lutheran Church of Prairie Hill, the Sons of Hermann and the American Legion.

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.

Born in Old Dime Box, Machat graduated from Caldwell High School in 1951 and earned his Associate of Arts from Blinn in 1954. While there, he lettered in football and basketball, sang in the chorus, was a baritone in the barbershop quartet and captured first place in radio speech at the annual Texas Junior College State Competition. Hal was also president of the Baptist Student Ministry. While at Blinn, he met his wife, the former Allyne Ruth Quade.

After graduating from Blinn, Machat earned his Bachelor of Arts from Baylor University, his Bachelor of Divinity from the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and his master’s degree in counseling and guidance from Texas Wesleyan University.

In 1959, Machat moved to Kilgore and served as campus ministry director at five east Texas junior colleges. He went on to serve as campus ministry director at the University of Houston and San Jacinto College, and developed Baptist student centers at Kilgore, Panola, Henderson County, the University of Houston and San Jacinto.

In 1977, Machat became vice president of Buffalo Savings and Loan, and in 1980 he became vice president of United Savings and Loan with 150 branches across the state.

Machat later served as business administrator at Grace Presbyterian Church, assistant to the business administrator at Second Baptist Church and director of fundraising for Second Baptist School. In 1989, Machat became the first executive director of Church Supplies and Services, Inc. He retired in 2001.

The family enjoyed membership at Second Baptist Church for 35 years, where Machat served as a Bible study teacher, deacon, director, president of the Men of the Church and served on the Personnel Committee.

An active member of the Republican Party of Harris County, Machat served eight years as precinct judge and precinct chairman. He also served on the Harris County Republican Party Committee that wrote the Republican State Party Platform. He was honored by the city of Houston for dedicated service and outstanding achievement.

Machat served as vice president, secretary and international relations for the Harrisburg Rotary Club and later became a chartered member of the Houston Westchase Rotary Club, where he served in several roles, including president. He led in the establishment of the Rotary Interact Club in several Alief high schools and received the Four Avenues of Service Citation from Rotary International, one of the organization’s highest awards.

In 2003, the Machats moved to Brenham, where Machat serves as member and deacon of First Baptist Church, is a member of the church choir, served as a member of the church transition team, chairman of the pastor search committee and has served as a senior adult volunteer coordinator. He has also served in the Rotary Club, is a board member for the Boys & Girls Club of Washington County and serves on the boards of Blinn’s Alumni & Friends Association and Lettermen’s Association. He has also served as president of the Brenham Heritage Museum and the Central Washington County Water Supply Corporation.

Hal’s wife Allyne was inducted into the Hall of Honor in 2007. Three generations of his family have attended Blinn, including Allyne’s father and their son Bill.

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.

After growing up in Waco, Schmidt served in the U.S. Marines before moving to Bryan in 1981, where he became the lone employee at Texas Commercial Waste. Despite numerous duties, he immediately became active in the community, joining the Bryan/College Station Jaycees and the Bryan Rotary Club, and founding Keep Brazos Beautiful.

As Blinn College looked to expand from its location at the Townshire Shopping Center, Schmidt played a key role in helping Blinn identify the 75 acres that would prove the foundation of its current campus on Villa Maria Road in Bryan.
Schmidt’s community service includes work with:


  • the Bryan/College Station Jaycees, where he has served as president and chairman of the board.
  • Leadership Brazos, where he has been a member since 1987, served as alumni chairman in 1990 and was awarded the Outstanding Alumni Service to Community Award in 1992. Schmidt began the Junior Leadership Brazos Program during his tenure as chairman.
  • the Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce, where he has served as a board member, vice president of membership, vice president of economic development and currently serves on the Transportation Committee and Legislative Affairs Committee. He was named the Chamber’s Citizen of the Year in 1995.
  • the Blinn College Foundation, where he has served as chairman and treasurer and is a current board member.
  • Junction 505, where he has served as a board member and treasurer, and the Junction 505 Foundation, where he has served as chairman and currently serves as a board member.
  • the Bryan Rotary Club, where he served for 31 years, including two stints on the board.
  • Keep Brazos Beautiful, where he was a founding member. During his term as president, Keep Brazos Beautiful was recognized as the best program in the nation by Keep America Beautiful and received the Governor’s Community Achievement Award from Keep Texas Beautiful.
  • Boys & Girls Club of the Brazos Valley, where he served on the board for 31 years, twice served as chairman and received the Man and Youth Award in 1994. Schmidt has also served as East Texas Area Council chairman and served on the national council for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. He was awarded the Southwest Champion for Youth Award and the Service to Youth Award, and was a founding board member of the Texas Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs.
  • Brazos Animal Shelter, where he serves on the board.
  • Sister Cities Organization, where he served as vice president and currently serves on the board.
  • the Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History, where he serves as a board member and as treasurer.
  • Fiestas Patrias, where he serves as a board member.
  • BVCASA, where he serves as a crisis hotline volunteer.
  • city of Bryan, where he has been treasurer of the Bryan Business Council, chairman of the community development committee, chairman of the Bryan Development Foundation, chairman of the charter review committee, served on the youth advisory committee and presently serves on the animal shelter review committee.
  • Festifall, where he served as site chairman two years
  • Research Valley Partnership, where he served as a past board member.
  • Brazos Valley Council of Governments, where he served as a member.

Schmidt received the Volunteer Award from Bryan/College Station Habitat for Humanity in 2010 and was a Jefferson Award honoree in 2011. He earned the Regional Solid Waste Management Award in 2011 and the Regional Leadership & Volunteerism Award in 2002.

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

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