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Twelve Selected As 2015 Distinguished Alumni

Since the inception of the award in 1962, only 249 of Texas A&M’s 425,000 former students have been recognized with the Distinguished Alumnus Award.
May 13, 2015

Twelve Aggies have been selected as the 2015 recipients of the highest honor bestowed upon a former student of Texas A&M University, the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Texas A&M University and The Association of Former Students are proud to welcome as Distinguished Alumni:

Col. Edward V. Adams ’29, posthumous
William M. Peña ’42 of Houston
Stanton P. Bell ’54 of San Antonio
Lupe Fraga ’57 of Sugar Land
Dr. Charles H. Bowman ’59 of College Station
Dr. J. Richard Steadman ’59 of Vail, Colo.
Ray Hannigan ’61 of Bryan
Richard Kardys ’67 of San Antonio
Stephen F. Cooper ’78 of El Campo
Frederick W. Heldenfels IV ’79 of Austin
Lyle Lovett ’79 of Spring
Carri Baker Wells ’84 of San Antonio

Biographical information on each is included below.

Since the inception of the award in 1962, only 249 of Texas A&M’s 425,000 former students have been recognized with the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Awarded jointly by the university and The Association, this award recognizes those Aggies who have achieved excellence in their chosen professions and made meaningful contributions to Texas A&M University and their local communities.

“These honorees embody the core values that we seek to instill in each of our students,” said Dr. Mark A. Hussey ’79, who was Texas A&M’s interim president during the recipients’ selection. “They are all leaders in their professions and communities and are most deserving of this recognition.”

The recipients learned of their honor when surprised in their places of business and other locations by a group of university and Association representatives, including The Association of Former Students’ 2015 Chair of the Board of Directors Bo Bradbury ’89, Association President and CEO Porter S. Garner III ’79, and a Ross Volunteer, along with Reveille VIII and her handler.

“Our 2015 Distinguished Alumni demonstrate the impact of Aggies on industry, science and the arts,” Bradbury said. “While choosing diverse career paths, their lives are all marked by the same core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect, and selfless service.”

Garner echoed the sentiments of Hussey and Bradbury and offered his congratulations on behalf of the Aggie Network. “Since the Distinguished Alumnus Award was established in 1962, less than one-tenth of one percent of Texas A&M’s former students have been recognized with the highest honor bestowed upon a former student of our university,” Garner said. “Those selected represent the very best of our worldwide Aggie Network.”

The Association of Former Students will further honor all recipients of this award during its annual Distinguished Alumni Gala on Oct. 2. In addition, the 2015 recipients will be recognized during the Oct. 3 Texas A&M football game against Mississippi State. Nominations for the 2016 Distinguished Alumnus Award will be accepted through Oct. 1.

The Association of Former Students, established in 1879, is the official alumni organization of Texas A&M University. The Association connects more than 678,000 members of the worldwide Aggie Network with each other and the university, and will provide $10.9 million in impact to university scholarships, awards, activities and enrichment for students, faculty, staff and former students in 2015. For more information about the Distinguished Alumnus Award or The Association, contact Kathryn Greenwade at or visit

Col. Edward V. Adams ’29 led the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band longer than any other individual — 27 years, 1946-73 — pioneering maneuvers other band directors called “impossible.” Hundreds of thousands of Aggies and other football fans who have watched the band perform countermarches and criss-crosses have watched Adams’ work. He grounded thousands of young bandsmen in discipline and dedication and is remembered for his kindness and understanding. After a successful career as a high school English teacher and band director and serving his country in World War II, he returned to A&M and gave the Aggie Band its style, its look and its standard of perfection. For most of his tenure at Texas A&M, he had no help other than a student assistant and the student leaders he developed; he even served as repairman for the instruments. He retired in 1973 and passed away in 1982. Texas A&M’s current band hall is named in his honor.

William M. Peña ’42 began his legendary architectural career after a harrowing tour of duty in World War II. He is regarded as the “father” of architectural programming and literally wrote the book on it, “Problem Seeking,” a seminal work in its fifth edition, while helping to develop one of America’s largest and most successful architecture firms, CRS Architects. As a U.S. Army infantry officer in World War II, he fought in battles including Huertgen Forest, the Battle of the Bulge and the liberation of Colmar and was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, French Legion of Honor, Croix de Guerre and Chevalier of the National Order of the Legion of Honour (France’s highest honor). He is one of five Aggies in the “Texas Aggies Go To War” exhibit in the Bastogne War Museum in Belgium. He endowed a professorship in Texas A&M’s College of Architecture; the college has named him an Outstanding Alumnus and his firm as “Firm of the Century” for its influence.

Stanton P. Bell ’54 built and leads Bell Hydrogas, a propane company serving San Antonio and six counties. He served five years as captain of the 12th Man Foundation’s Champions Council and, among the San Antonio organizations he has worked for and led, he was elected King Antonio of Fiesta 1989 and has been a director of Boysville and the Santa Rosa Children’s Hospital Foundation. He is a past president of the San Antonio Better Business Bureau and a former director of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. He has served as a director of Compass Bank, Mission Gas Corp. and the Valero Texas Open Golf Tournament. He served in the 24th Infantry Division in Korea and was selected as aide de camp to the commanding general. He is a past president of the Rotary Club of San Antonio and also a past president of the San Antonio Country Club, club golf champion and five-time club senior golf champion.

Lupe Fraga ’57 built Tejas Office Products into one of Houston’s largest minority-owned businesses and has championed Houston and A&M through work that includes chairing the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Federal Reserve Bank’s Houston branch and serving as an Texas A&M University System regent from 2005 to 2011. His company made the Aggie 100 both in the list’s inaugural year and in 2011 and has been listed in the Hispanic Business Magazine Top 500 Companies. He has chaired the Greater Houston Visitors and Convention Bureau and Harris County Child Protective Services and was honored as one of 2004’s Fathers of the Year by Community Partners. He was named a Texas A&M Mays Business School Outstanding Alumnus in 2003. He was honored by the Houston Aggie Moms’ Club in February 2015. He has been a trustee of St. Thomas University and has served other organizations including the Galveston-Houston Catholic Diocese, Metropolitan and National YMCA, Sam Houston Area Boy Scouts and United Way Gulf Coast Chapter.

Dr. Charles H. Bowman ’59 rose to the top of the oil industry, becoming CEO of BP America in 1993. Following retirement from BP in 1997, he joined Texas A&M as head of the Petroleum Engineering Department, and later led the negotiating team that created a new Texas A&M campus in Qatar, eventually serving as its interim dean and a member of its joint advisory board. He is now dean emeritus of Texas A&M University at Qatar and professor emeritus of petroleum engineering. Among the gifts he and wife Lynn Holleran have given A&M are endowments for International Programs, the Department of Petroleum Engineering’s Resource Center and the College of Liberal Arts’ Cervantes Project, as well as a College of Engineering faculty fellowship. He has been a director of the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County, a director of Central Houston Inc., a trustee of Case Western Reserve University, chairman of the Cleveland Ballet and a director and treasurer of the American Petroleum Institute.

Dr. J. Richard Steadman ’59, a retired orthopaedic surgeon and nine-time Winter Olympics U.S. team physician, developed a revolutionary approach to knee surgery including a microfracture procedure used to treat more than 500,000 patients a year that has been adapted to other joints such as the shoulder and hip. He is the founder and chairman emeritus of The Steadman Clinic and founder and co-chairman of the nonprofit Steadman Philippon Research Institute, a world leader in orthopaedic research and education, known for its clinical research database and study of orthopaedic injuries associated with the knee, shoulder, ankle, hip, and spine. After graduating from Texas A&M, where he played football for legendary coach Bear Bryant, he received his medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and then served in the U.S. Army. His success in returning many elite athletes to major athletic achievements following potentially career-ending injuries includes 26 athletes from professional soccer, 45 from the NFL, 23 from the MLB, eight in the NBA, and 26 snow skiers.

Ray Hannigan ’61 rose to CEO of an international hospital equipment company and has used his abilities to educate and create opportunities for other Aggies to succeed globally. His involvement with Texas A&M’s Mays Business School has included serving on the advisory council to the Center for International Business Studies, serving as a guest lecturer and, in 1997, receiving the Outstanding Alumnus Award. He was president and CEO of Kinetic Concepts Inc. from 1994 to 2000; before that, he was president of the international division of Sterling Drug (Eastman Kodak) and president of Beecham SmithKlein Canada. Appointed by Gov. Rick Perry ’72 to the State Board of Health in 2001, he served four years. In San Antonio, he has served on the board of directors for Christus Santa Rosa Hospital, Our Lady of the Lake University and Southwest Research Foundation. He serves as a Meals on Wheels volunteer in Bryan and has served on the leadership council of St. Mary’s Catholic Center in College Station.

Richard Kardys ’67 is a banking executive and 2015 Aggie Lawyer of the Year who has been since 1980 at Frost Bank in San Antonio as the manager of Frost Wealth Advisors, a team of 450 professionals who manage $35 billion in assets. He is a past chairman of the Texas Bankers Association Trust Financial Services Division. He has served a combined 14 years on the boards of The Association of Former Students and Texas A&M Foundation and led both organizations. He served as a JAG officer in the United States Air Force from 1970 to 1976 to the rank of captain and is a 1970 graduate of the University of Texas School of Law. He served on Texas A&M’s Vision 2020 Campaign Leadership Council in 1998 and is a longtime member of the 12th Man Foundation’s Ambassadors Council and Champions Council. He is a past president of San Antonio organizations including the Federal Bar Association, Hospice San Antonio, National Conference of Christians and Jews, Kiwanis Club and Volunteer Center.

Stephen F. Cooper ’78 built a pioneering turf-grass sod business and leads projects to benefit the city of El Campo, notably working on behalf of El Campo Memorial Hospital to recruit doctors and secure grants for medical equipment and recently helping develop a Little League park. He helped form the El Campo Memorial Hospital’s 501(c)3 operating entity, of which he is vice chairman, and has served as organizer and advisor for the numerous entities involved with the El Campo Little League Project (play began at the baseball/softball complex this year). As 28-year president and owner of La Tierra de Esmeralda/Emerald Sod Farms, specializing in turf grass, sod and services in the Rocky Mountain region, he was the first sod producer to sod an entire golf course. He has helped Texas A&M’s College of Agriculture as a mentor, speaker and guest professor and also is a member of the Texas A&M Department of Agricultural Economics’ Tyrus R. Timm Honor Registry and the College of Agriculture Development Council.

Frederick W. Heldenfels IV ’79 has served Texas colleges and universities as chair of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating board and has served as chairman of the 12th Man Foundation board of trustees and twice as a member of its executive committee. He is the current chairman of the A&M PAC Board. He is founder, president and CEO of Heldenfels Enterprises Inc., an Aggie 100 award recipient in 2005, 2006 and 2010. He has chaired the industry’s national trade organization, the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute, and was inducted into the Corpus Christi Business Hall of Fame in 2010. He is a past chairman of both the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Foundation and the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce, where he helped initiate support for tort reform in the Coastal Bend and creation of a four-year university within The Texas A&M University System. He has long taught Sunday school classes at Hyde Park Baptist Church and serves on the Austin Chamber of Commerce board as vice chair of state advocacy.

Lyle Lovett ’79, a four-time Grammy Award-winning musician, has brought positive publicity to A&M as an enthusiastic ambassador for his school and with actions that include co-leading 2000’s Bonfire Benefit Concert fundraiser aiding victims of the 1999 Bonfire collapse. He has served on Texas A&M’s Liberal Arts Development Council and narrated a 2009 documentary, “Aggies: The True Story of Texas A&M University,” that is a fundraiser for Texas A&M’s Annual Fund via The Association of Former Students. In addition to the Bonfire concert with fellow Aggie Robert Earl Keen ’78, Lovett put on a 2004 concert celebrating the 125th anniversary of The Association and a 2010 concert that raised money for enhancements to the Clayton W. Williams, Jr., Alumni Center as a way to multiply his own contribution to that fund. Lovett, also an actor who has appeared in 13 feature films, was the 2011 Texas State Musician and received the Texas Medal of Arts in 2005.

Carri Baker Wells ’84 is COO for the San Antonio office of Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, a firm she has helped lead to national recognition in serving governments at all levels in collecting receivables. She was chairman of the 12th Man Foundation and led projects such as Kyle Field’s successful Zone Club, a critical asset to raising funds for expansion. She chaired the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and has been inducted into the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame. She has held numerous civic leadership roles including co-founder and chair of the San Antonio ISD Foundation, an organization that is investing more than $1 million annually to ignite innovation and excellence in inner city schools. She is a board member for Girl Scouts of the USA and has received the highest honor given by a Girl Scout Council, the Trefoil Award. She served on the board of the San Antonio A&M Club and currently serves on the development council of A&M’s Mays Business School.

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