Aggie Family Ambassadors Announce 2019-2020 Parents Of The Year
The Aggie Family Ambassadors at Texas A&M University announced that Preston ’84 and Susan ‘83 Abbott of Houston are the 2019-2020 Parents of the Year, 32 years after Preston’s parents, Frank and Joanie Abbott, received the honor for the 1987-1988 school year.
The couple’s selfless service to their family, their country, and Texas A&M in particular have established an enduring legacy and positively shaped the lives of their Aggie children, Grant Castleberry ’07, Andrew Abbott ’14 and Mary Beth Abbott ’19, who nominated them for the honor.
Preston and Susan’s legacy of service and involvement at Texas A&M began during their time as students. Susan served as a Fish Camp counselor in the summer of 1980, where she initially met Preston, and she helped to charter the Texas A&M chapter of the Tri-Delta Sorority in 1982. Preston was a member of the Corps of Cadets and served as Corps Sergeant Major in 1982-83 and Corps Commander in 1983-84.
Following graduation, Preston served in the Marine Corps, and Susan was a military wife until her first husband, Charles Kelly Castleberry Jr. ‘82—Preston’s friend and Grant’s father—died in a Marine Corps fighter jet collision in 1986. The couple has faithfully contributed to an Endowed Memorial Scholarship Fund through The Association of Former Students which has enabled them to present numerous awards to Corps of Cadet members through the years in memory of Kelly Castleberry.
In 1995, they helped establish the Abbott Family Leadership Conference, which helps student delegates develop their unique values system and learn how those values impact their decision making in all aspects of leadership and life. Since the conference began, there has not been a year without at least one of them present at each one, according to the nomination. Preston and Susan’s commitment to building into the next generation has sparked a passion for service in Mary Beth, a senior at Texas A&M, and her brothers.
“Preston and Susan have chosen to lead a life where the value in what they hold important is reflected in their actions,” Mary Beth said. “They are a primary source of inspiration as we have found ways to in turn give back to the university.”
On Friday, March 22, the couple’s family and friends along with delegates of the most recent Abbott Family Leadership Conference gathered at the Omni Hotel Westside in Houston to surprise them with the news of their achievement. Preston and Susan said they noticed the additional guests at the event but never thought they were being honored for anything.
“This was a total and complete surprise,” Preston said. “This wasn’t on our radar, and it never even crossed our minds. We are really excited to be able to work with the university and students over the next year.”
Every year, Texas A&M students nominate their parents and family members to represent the university as Parents of the Year. The Aggie Family Ambassadors, sponsored by the Office of New Student & Family Programs, select the winners based upon their character and embodiment of the Texas A&M Core Values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service. Mary Beth said she feels her parents are deserving of the award because they exemplify these values along with humility and compassion.
“What is truly beautiful about Preston and Susan’s continual service and involvement at Texas A&M is that there is not an ounce in them that expects anything in return,” Mary Beth said in her nomination. “Their actions are a direct result of their genuine gratitude and rooted love for others and Texas A&M.”
As the second couple from their family to be named Texas A&M Parents of the Year, Preston and Susan have a little insight into what lies ahead over the next year, and are very excited for yet another opportunity to give back to their beloved university.
“We saw how fun that was for mother and dad [Frank and Joanie Abbott] the year they were Parents of the Year,” Susan said. “We can’t count the amazing experiences they’ve had because of that year. This feels like the night before Christmas, and we are anticipating all of the people and students we will be able to meet this year.”
Preston and Susan Abbott will be presented and officially begin their role as Texas A&M Parents of the Year at Family Weekend Yell Practice on April 12. They will also be recognized at other events throughout the weekend, including at the Centennial Celebration on April 13 at the Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center. Tickets for the event are available at tx.ag/CentennialTix.
The Aggie Family Ambassadors would like to extend their gratitude to Brett and Courtney Turner, the 2018-2019 Parents of the Year, for their service to the university over the past year.