Blinn Alumni and Friends Association names four to its 2019 Hall of Honor class

Jeane Block Spencer, Randy French, Charles Heller, and Diane Pieper will be recognized at special luncheon on Sept. 20

August 19, 2019

The Blinn College Alumni and Friends Association will induct four civic leaders into its Hall of Honor during a special luncheon taking place at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 20, at the Blinn-Brenham Campus Student Center.

Alumna Jeane Block Spencer, business leader Randy French, former Blinn College professor and trustee Charles Heller, and community leader and Blinn alumna Diane Pieper 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 week each year.

To purchase $25 individual tickets or $200 reserved tables for the luncheon, contact Susan Myers, Executive Director of the Blinn Foundation, at 979-830-4273, susan.myers@blinn.edu, or the Whigham House located at 706 College Avenue in Brenham.

The Alumni and Friends Association maintains contact with all former students and friends of the College, encourages support for and participation in the educational, cultural, athletic, and social programs of the College, encourages personnel recruitment by members, assists the College in achieving planned goals and objectives, and provides fellowship among former students and friends.

 

JEANE BLOCK SPENCER

Jeane BlockJeane Block Spencer was born to Elsie Hines and Alex Meloncon in Brenham. She was raised by her grandparents, Dilmus and Willie Mae Bolton, on their family farm where she spent carefree days surrounded by the love of family and friends.

The village was always there to lend a hand, to encourage, and praise honest effort. Each of them, in his or her own way, helped to shape her life. Spencer’s grandparents provided a foundation of faith, integrity, tenacity, and a strong work spirit, for which she is grateful.

Spencer was educated in Brenham Public Schools with the encouragement of her grandparents. Her grandfather wanted to make sure she knew her “ABCs and 123s,” as he called them. Spencer’s first recognition of the importance of reading was watching him read the newspaper, and her work ethic is a direct result of her family’s high expectations. Early on, she was taught to strive for excellence and do her best, even under difficult circumstances. Her motto is: “Any job worth doing is worth doing well.”

Spencer graduated first in her class at Pickard High School and became the first African American to be accepted into Blinn’s academic program. On the hot, sunny afternoon she first walked on campus, the historical significance of what she was about to do was not foremost in her mind. To her, it was just a stepping stone to her goal of attaining a four-year college degree. However, she also knew that her success or failure would be the benchmark for every African American student to follow.

Her time at Blinn, thanks to the diligence of the administration, staff, and professors, was peaceful and productive and two years later she earned her associate degree in arts. She matriculated from the University of Texas with a Bachelor of Arts in English.

Her first job was as a fifth-grade teacher in the Aldine School District in Houston. During her tenure there, her education continued, both in the workplace and at the University of Houston. She married Dennis A. Spencer, Sr., and relocated to New Mexico, where she was a mother to Dennis and William.

In 1979, she was widowed at age 33 with two small boys ages 6 and three months. Shepherding both boys to manhood became her sole assignment, and both now hold engineering degrees – Dennis from Southern Methodist University and William from New Mexico State University.

Spencer retired from Las Cruces Public Schools after 18 years, including 12 as a special education teacher. She has been a member of Bethel Second Baptist Church for 47 years and serves as Sunday School teacher, deaconess, and Christian Education vice chair. She also participates in missions and sings in the choir. In denominational activities, she serves as the leader of the Mt. Olive Baptist State Women of New Mexico. She has been a contributing writer for The Mission, the national study guide for the women of National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., for more than 20 years.

Her family now includes two daughters-in-law and three grandsons. Soccer and basketball took center stage in the early days, but even with all that is happening in her life, she still has time for her favorite pastime, double deck pinochle.

 

RANDY FRENCH

Randy FrenchA lifetime resident of Bryan-College Station, Randy French graduated from Bryan High School in 1972. Following high school, he attended Sam Houston State University (Huntsville, Texas), where he graduated in 1978 with a general business degree. Randy and his wife, Cheryl, share six children and 14 grandchildren.

French’s passion for business began while managing his five family-owned childcare centers in Bryan-College Station. It was in 1978 that he made the decision to sell the facilities to KinderCare and pursue his desired career in real estate.

French then began working as the Marketing Director for Lero Construction in Bryan from 1982-1986. During this time, he oversaw subdivision development and the marketing, sales, and management of various multi-family complexes and office buildings that the company built and sold.

In 1986, French founded Stylecraft Builders, which grew from a small custom home builder to a large production home builder that currently builds more than 750 homes throughout Central Texas each year. In 2019, Stylecraft was ranked the 65th-largest builder in the nation by Builder Magazine and was named one of the Best Companies to Work for in Texas by Texas Monthly.

French has established his legacy through passion, economic growth, and a charitable nature. He has served on the boards of Hubble Realty in Des Moines, Iowa; the Salvation Army; Scotty’s House; the Brazos Valley Research Partnership; the Bryan-College Station Homebuilder Association; the Bryan-College Station Chamber of Commerce, the Brazos Valley Community Foundation; The Med Hospital; and the Bryan Business Council.

French also has served as Capital Campaign Chair for the Boys & Girls Club of the Brazos Valley, actively supported the Twin City Mission and Crestview capital campaigns, and volunteered for prison ministry. He is a member/broker for the Texas and Bryan-College Station Board of Realtors and was named the 2013 Philanthropic Member of the Year for the Texas Association of Builders. He previously was named to the Bryan ISD Hall of Honor.

 

Dr. CHARLES HELLER

Charles HellerDr. Charles Heller was born Jan. 4, 1943, in Mission Valley, Texas, to Carl and Lillie (Adickes) Heller. He was a graduate of Victoria High School, Victoria College, Texas Lutheran College, and received his Ph.D. in chemistry from Texas A&M University. While at Texas A&M, he met the love of his life, Patricia Ann Coffer, and they were married June 7, 1969, at St. Paul’s Methodist Church in Bryan. They have two children, Cheryl Heller and Shannon Leigh Heller, and two grandchildren, Charles Victor Naudin and Sydney Marie Naudin.

Dr. Heller began his teaching career at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, then came to Blinn College as a chemistry instructor in 1972 and later was named head of the Natural Sciences Department. He served on the Blinn Board of Trustees from 1984-92 before returning to the classroom as a chemistry professor. He retired from Blinn in 2014.

Dr. Heller always had an appreciation of nature, and in 1983, he established Brenham Trees. He enjoyed working in his yard, gardening, and astronomy, and gave presentations to the Rotary Club, Lions Club, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department regarding tree care and maintenance. He was an avid reader and would wake up early in the mornings to work on his chemistry theory project.

A character who was always full of stories, he always was driven to do his best, whether selling tickets for fundraisers with the Brenham Evening Lions Club, where he served as president, or helping with projects at Christ Lutheran Church, where he was an active member and former Church Council President. He also was a member of the Washington County Landscape Committee, The Washington County Recycling Committee, the American Chemical Society, and the International Society of Arboriculture.

Following his passing in 2018, the Dr. Charles Heller Memorial Scholarship was established by friends and loved ones through the Blinn College Foundation.

 

DIANE PIEPER

Diane PieperLocal businesswoman and Blinn College alumnus Diane Pieper is one of five generations of family to attend Blinn College. While attending Blinn, she and her husband Lloyd were involved in the Phil Beta Lambda organization. In 1967, Pieper graduated from Blinn with a business degree. To increase her knowledge in the field of architecture and lighting design, she attended classes at Texas A&M. She is a life member of the Blinn College Alumni and Friends Association and in 2016 was instrumental in establishing endowed scholarships from the Moeller Foundation to benefit both academic and workforce education students.

Her local community involvement began with youth programs where she served as a Girl Scout leader, Little League officer and Cub Booster Club officer. She was also a member of the first Chamber Leadership class in 1990, a past Chamber Blue Blazer and Brenham Fire Department Auxiliary past president. Salem Lutheran Church has and continues to be an important part of her life as she served as congregation president in the past and will again fill that position in 2021. The Moeller scholarships for graduating senior church members was set up under her guidance.

Diane and her husband, Lloyd are the current owners of Moeller Electric Co., a local family formed business established over sixty-five years ago. She is also the president and co-owner of Countryside Lighting Co., a residential lighting showroom and design company. The company is affiliated with the American Lighting Association and has contributed products for several Blinn projects. Both businesses continue to support charitable events and fundraisers because of Diane and Lloyd’s strong belief in the importance of supporting local businesses and community organizations.

Diane and Lloyd have been married for 53 years. They have two children, Matt Pieper and Melanie Roberts, seven grandchildren, and four great grandchildren.

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