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Blinn Alumni & Friends Association names Howard Kruse its 2016 person of the year

Doyle Coatney, Dr. Bobbie Dietrich, Kay Boehm Fannin, and M. Houston McGaugh join Kruse in Hall of Honor

September 19, 2016

The Blinn College Alumni & Friends Association will induct five distinguished community leaders into the Blinn College Hall of Honor during a special luncheon taking place at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, in the Brenham Campus Student Center’s Janis Sneed Banquet Room.

Howard Kruse has been named the 2016 person of the year. Doyle Coatney, the late Dr. Bobbie Dietrich, Kay Boehm Fannin and M. Houston McGaugh also will be inducted.

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.

To purchase tickets to the luncheon, 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.


Howard KruseOne of Brenham’s most respected businessmen and community leaders, Howard Kruse began working at Blue Bell Creameries when he was 11 years old. As a student in the Brenham Independent School District, he lettered in football, basketball and track, served as president of his senior class and was a member of the National Honor Society.

His academic success continued at Texas A&M University, where he was named a Distinguished Academic Student and earned his Bachelor of Science in dairy manufacturing. After graduating from Texas A&M, he served as a first lieutenant in the Korean War.

In 1954, he rejoined Blue Bell, and was named assistant general manager in 1956. Among the many flavors and product lines he created was homemade vanilla, the company’s top-selling flavor. In 1986, he was named president of Blue Bell, and in 1993 he was named president and chief executive officer. In 2004, after 50 years of full-time service, he was named president emeritus.

An active community leader, Kruse has served as past president of the Brenham Rotary Club, the Washington County Chamber of Commerce, the Dairy Products Institute of Texas, St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church Council of Brenham and the Washington County United Way Fund. He also served as commander of the American Legion Buddy Wright Post #48, scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 742, secretary and board member of Bohne Memorial Hospital, co-chairman of the Major Gifts Division Greater Century Campaign at Scott & White Memorial Hospital and the Scott, Sherwood, & Brindley Foundation, and served as a member of the Southern Association of Dairy Food Manufacturers Board of Directors. He currently serves on the Texas A&M Health Science Center advisory group.

Kruse was named Washington County Man of the Year in 1990 and inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame in 1993. He was named Lutheran of the Year by the Lutheran Social Services of the South in 1995, and was inducted into the Dairy Products Institute of Texas Hall of Fame in 2000.

In 2002, Kruse was selected as a Distinguished Alumnus from Texas A&M, received the Ruby McSwain Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the National Agricultural Alumni and Development Association, and was the recipient of the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Outstanding Alumni Award. He was inducted into the Texas A&M Corps of Cadets Hall of Honor in 2003, received the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2005 and was inducted into the Brenham High School Football Hall of Honor in 2006. He was a recipient of the 2006 Texas A&M University Distinguished Texan in Agriculture Award and was selected as a Distinguished Alumnus of the Brenham Independent School District in 2007.


Doyle CoatneyBlinn College alumnus Doyle Coatney is a successful businessman and philanthropist now living in Louisiana.

Raised on a sharecropper’s farm near Houston, Coatney graduated from Montgomery High School before attending Blinn, where he was a member of the basketball, baseball and track teams. In 1960, Coatney entered the U.S. Army as a private and was later selected for Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant Infantry Platoon Leader.

After completing his military service, Coatney spent nine years with AMF Tuboscope as a field inspector, salesman and then sales manager. In 1972, he purchased Acme Truck Line, growing the company from a six-truck oilfield equipment hauler into a diversified cargo carrier with 6,000 shipments per week. When he sold the company to his son Mike in 2000, the company had 1,000 trucks and $104 million in revenues.

Coatney has supported the Northshore Community Foundation’s Coatney Center for Philanthropy in Covington, La., as well as the Coatney Wellness Park, the Ochsner Health Center, and the Coatney Leadership Center and Coatney Leadership Award at St. Martin’s Episcopal School in Metairie, La. The Ochsner Health Center has recognized Coatney as a Doctor of Philanthropy.

Coatney recently provided a generous gift to Blinn College in support of the Doyle Coatney Athletic Training Facility, an 11,184-square foot facility that will include indoor batting cages for baseball and softball, a weight room and a meeting room. Coatney also has established an endowed scholarship at Blinn benefitting Montgomery High School graduates.


Dr. Bobbie Morrow DietrichDr. Bobbie Morrow Dietrich’s passion for educating students took her around the globe, including 25 years as Blinn’s Director of Speech Communications and Theatre.

A graduate of Kaufman High School, Dietrich earned her Bachelor of Arts from Howard Payne University, her Master of Arts from the University of Texas at Austin and her Ph.D. from East Texas State University. Her master’s thesis was titled, “A Rhetorical Analysis of Two Speeches Delivered in 1854 and 1858 by Samuel Houston in Congress During the Period Immediately Preceding the Secession of Texas From the United States.” Her doctoral dissertation was titled “The Potential of Telecourses Offered for College Credit by Traditional Senior Institutions of Higher Learning and/or a National Television University as Perceived by the Chief Administrators of Public and Private Colleges and Universities in the United States.”

As a teacher for Department of Defense Dependent Schools, Dietrich taught in Mannheim, Germany; Frankfurt, Germany; Hakata, Japan; Clark Air Force Base in the Phillipines; Ankara, Turkey; London, England; Tripoli, Libya; Chateauroux, France; Preswick, Scotland; Peshawar, Pakistan; and Soesterberg, Netherlands. She also taught for Texas public schools in Sweetwater, Fort Worth and Richardson.

In 1966, she came to Blinn College, where she began the Drama Program (now the Theatre Arts Program) and directed the construction of the Theatre in the Round. She introduced new courses to the program, including Business Speech, Oral Interpretation, Drama I and II, One-Hour Acting, Stage Directing, and Lighting. Students could transfer with a major in speech and drama to a university.

Under Dietrich’s guidance, Blinn began participating in speaking and drama festivals, as well as area and state meets. She sponsored and served as judge for area and regional drama contests, and started the district and regional drama festivals that were held at Brenham High School and Bellville High School. Dietrich also introduced Phi Rho Pi, the national speech association for students, and Delta Psi Omega, the national drama association for students, at Blinn College. She was a founder of the Texas Community College Speech & Theatre Association Play Festival.

Dietrich was greatly involved in Blinn’s centennial celebration in 1983, outlining the history of Blinn College at that year’s commencement ceremony in a presentation that she researched and wrote for a Reader’s Theatre production of the 100-year history entitled, “Times Remembered,” May 15, 1972.

Dietrich was a member of the American Association of University Women, Fortnightly Club, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), Daughters of the Republic of Texas (DRT), Texas Speech and Drama Association, Director of Phi Rho Pi and Delta Si Omega, co-sponsor of the District March of Dimes, Texas State Historical Commission for Washington County, Sunday School teacher at First Baptist Church, and Regent for DAR and DRT, among others.

Dietrich was appointed to chair committees for the Bicentiennial and Sesquicentennial Celebrations, and was involved in establishing markers and “Band Stand” at the courthouse, trees at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site, scrapbooks for the 1976 and 1986 celebrations, and the American Revolution theatre production, “The Contrast.”
Dietrich was named Washington County’s Woman of the Year in 2002, and in 2010 the U.S. Forest Service planted a tree in Dietrich’s honor under the direction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


Kay Boehm FanninKay Boehm Fannin grew up in Brenham, attended Blinn College, and enjoys returning to Brenham often for visits. Fannin and her husband Gary are the proud parents of three sons: Rich, Garrett and Gene.

Fannin’s grandfather, Henry Boehm, Sr., was Dean at Blinn College; her parents, Henry and Teddy Boehm, met while attending Blinn and each have served on the Blinn Board of Trustees. Fannin’s siblings, Dee, Trey and Teresa, all took classes at Blinn, as did one of her sons.

Fannin and her twin sister Dee were born in Galveston, Texas, in 1961. When Fannin was 2, the Boehms moved to Brenham, where she attended Grace Lutheran and Brenham ISD schools. After graduating from Brenham High School, she attended Blinn College, where she earned her Associate of Arts degree and was a member of Circle K and the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. She earned her Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in petroleum engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was named the Outstanding Petroleum Engineering Student in 1984-85.

Fannin began her career in petroleum engineering at Mobil Oil’s New Orleans office, where she worked in drilling and reservoir engineering positions. She was Mobil’s first female offshore drilling foreman, or “company man.” While working full-time, she earned her Master of Business Administration from Loyola University, and married Gary Fannin, a fellow engineer with Mobil, and had the couple’s first son.

In 1994, the Fannins moved to California, where their second and third sons were born and Kay was named manager of technology for reservoir surveillance. In 2000, the Fannins transferred back to Texas and Kay held a central planning position in downtown Houston for the worldwide ExxonMobil Production Company. From 2005 through 2008, the family transferred to West Africa, where Kay and Gary worked as engineers and their boys attended an American International School.

In 2008, the family moved back to Texas. Kay served as asset manager for two Angola deepwater blocks. Her recent position has been global development planning advisor, located in Houston, advising on early project planning for various opportunities around the world. Her current focus is deepwater development planning. 

In addition to her career, Fannin enjoys spending time with family and friends. She has served as a “big sister” in Big Brothers/Big Sisters, on the New Orleans YMCA board, as a Sunday School teacher, a Bakersfield Boys & Girls Club board member, a Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church board member, a Soccer Booster Club board member and a Rotary Club member.


M. Houston McGaughM. Houston McGaugh has served as Director of Blinn College’s Star of the Republic Museum since 1987, part of a nearly 40-year career in museums.

McGaugh’s career began in 1976 as an intern in the education section of the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. He served as Director of Education at the Museum of Science and History in Little Rock, Ark., from 1976-82, and spent two years as District Executive for the Boys Scouts of America in Lubbock.

From 1984-87, he served as Director of Education at Baylor University’s Strecker Museum in Waco before arriving at Star of the Republic Museum at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site.

In 1992, McGaugh was appointed by Texas Gov. Ann Richards to serve on both the Sam Houston and Stephen F. Austin Bicentennial Celebration Commissions. He served as a founding member of the Cotton Heritage Association, a pilot program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and was a member of the Washington County Historical Commission from 1994-99.

He served as Project Director for both of Star of the Republic Museum’s IMS conservation implementation grants and the National Endowment for the Humanities self-study grant projects in 1997-98. In 1999, he organized and coordinated the $1,000,000 Millennium Campaign, completely renovating 10,000 square feet of exhibits.

Under McGaugh’s leadership, Star of the Republic became one of the first museums to upload collections data to the Portal to Texas History. He was elected President of the Central Texas Museum Association in 2002, and was appointed to the Texas Historical Resource Advisory Board for the Texas State Archives from 2003-09.

In 2006, McGaugh was awarded an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant to completely digitize the Star of the Republic Museum archive and artifact collections, becoming one of the first museums in Texas to do so. He was elected chair of the Texas Heritage Digitization Initiative that year, a statewide project to digitize collections and archives held in Texas museums and libraries.

McGaugh led Star of the Republic Museum’s’ successful re-accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) in 2009, placing Star of the Republic among the 5 percent of U.S. museums meeting AAM’s high accreditation standards.

In 2010, McGaugh worked with the Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park Association to raise $180,000 for an educational website designed for fourth and seventh grade students in Texas. The site won an Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History, and two design awards from the Texas Association of Museums.

In 2012, McGaugh launched a new app to help visitors visualize what the town of Washington looked like in 1836. The following year, he served as a panelist for an online international conference discussing mobile online technology for museums.

McGaugh was elected to a three-year term on the Texas Association of Museums Council in 2013 and was reappointed in 2015. That same year, he was awarded the Jack Nokes Outstanding Service Award from the Texas Association of Museums. McGaugh served on the steering committee and now serves on the elected board for the newly formed Central Texas Historical Association.