History

History of the Lamar High School Alumni Association

The Lamar High School Alumni Association was established as a non-profit organization with two purposes: to serve the needs of the alumni and of the students of the present day.  It strives to create a spirit of unity between the alumni and the current student body by sponsoring special activities and by raising funds for specific improvements.

It all started with a conversation about the need to renovate the bathrooms at Lamar and a book describing the 50th Anniversary event for the school.

1996 - 1997

In the fall of 1996, Fran Callahan held a conversation with Walter Day, the principal of Lamar High School, about the idea of forming an alumni association and raising money to remodel the bathrooms at Lamar. She had seen a book that had been put together after the 1987 50th Anniversary Event at Lamar and realized that there were many famous and successful alumni who had attended Lamar. She thought they might be interested in supporting their school, especially with projects that would enhance the building and grounds.  Invitations to the known class contacts were sent out inviting them to attend a dinner. The dinner was served on the stage in the auditorium with students serving and then performing for the guests.  It was a great way to get people interested. A committee of parents and alumni was then assembled to organize a 60th Anniversary event – the committee started with $505 donated by the members. The Friends of Lamar organization, which had been formed after the 50th Anniversary event, was approached for their support. They were unable to supply any funds, but they did agree to allow the committee to use their 501 (c)(3) organization to collect funds to get started. In January 1997, a dinner was held  at the home of an alumnus, and $10,000 was raised. These donations were used to fund the 60th Anniversary event.

1997 - 1998

We then began the process of applying to the state to become a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The legal documents were prepared by Bracewell and Patterson pro bono. (At the same time, they also prepared the legal documents for the creation of the Lamar Business Resource Council. This group was formed to solicit donations from the parents to create a fund for special requests from the principal. It frequently works with the Alumni Association on special projects.)

 

The 60th Anniversary event was held in November 8, 1997. Hundreds of alumni attended and, after paying all the expenses, there was $10,000 left over. This was used to fund the first activities of the association.

 

Since the school had kept no records of its 30,000+ graduates and HISD would not release the names of the graduates, student workers were hired over the summer to research the names of graduates using the yearbooks, class reunion lists, and the telephone directory.

1998 – 1999

The legal application was submitted and approved by the State of Texas and the IRS. A board was then put together and the first officers were elected:  Fran Callahan, President; William E. Bammel, Jr. (‘61), Treasurer; and Carolyn Schill Rappazzo (’53), Secretary; Katherine Hackney Bertelsen, (’42), Tom Erwin (’44), and Benjamin Hammond IV, (’45), and Marjorie Bintliff Johnson (‘45). The first membership forms were sent out, and the response was very encouraging.

 

A new flagpole, using the original base which had been saved when the original flagpole was taken down, and a new curved seat wall for the front of the school were completed. Funds for this came from the 60th Anniversary event, the River Oaks Garden Club, and the Classes of 1954, 1997and 1998.

 

The group’s first gifts to the school were gifts of $500 each for two student group trips. The first copy of the alumni newsletter was published in September 1998.

1999 – 2000

Two members of the Lamar PTO, Sherry O’Connor and Patti Poff, and Fran Callahan came up with the idea of sponsoring a Distinguished Alumni Luncheon in the spring to raise money. The first honorees were John Daugherty (’62), Carolyn Burton Hamilton (’57), Dr. Carlos Hamilton (’57), Sherry Spradley Holmes (‘64), Ned S. Holmes (’63), Peter Roussel (’61), Elizabeth Dennis Rockwell (’38), and Anita Weber Smith (’75). The event was held on May 11th at the River Oaks Country Club and was a great success. It became the annual signature event for the organization.

 

The board contracted with Harris Publishing to create the first Lamar High School Alumni Directory. Harris worked with the alumni data that had been collected to create the directory. There was no charge to the alumni association; Harris charged alumni for the purchase of the book. Free copies of the directory were presented to the Alumni Association along with a much improved database.

 

The gifts to the school for this year were for $4,350 which included a TV, a camera, and funding for the Homecoming event.

 

The board members were Fran Callahan, President; William E. Bammel, Jr. (‘61), Treasurer; and Carolyn Schill Rappazzo (’53), Secretary; Burt Ballanfant (’65), Katherine Hackney Bertelsen, Maury Bronstein (’89), Christopher Byrd (’89), and Allison Howell (’84).

 

2000 – 2001

The Distinguished Alumni Luncheon honorees were Walter Fondren (’54), Jeannette Clift George (’42), Corbin Robertson, Jr. (’65), and Elsa Roberts Rosborough (’42). The luncheon was held on March 28th at the River Oaks Country Club.

 

The new principal, Dr. James McSwain, approached the board and asked it to raise funds to computerize the school. The current level of technology at the school was woefully inadequate. The board agreed to help and began soliciting donations. This fund started off with a $50,000 donation from Mike Willis. The board raised a total of $100,000 for the installation of computers in the school. It also found and had framed the photo of the 1953 State Football Championship Team and the first edition of the Lamar Lancer, the school newspaper, which was presented to the Journalism Department.

 

The board members were Fran Callahan, Parent, President, William E. Bammel, Jr. (‘61), Vice-President; Carolyn Schill Rappazzo (’53), Secretary; Eunice Meyer, Parent, Treasurer; Burt Ballanfant (’65), Katherine Hackney Bertelsen (’42), Maury Bronstein (’89), Christopher Byrd (‘89), Elizabeth Dennis Rockwell (’38), and Jerry Sadler (’62).

 

2001 – 2002

Based on advice received from a training session with the United Way of Houston, the board made the decisions to reconstitute itself and rewrite its by-laws in order to formalize its structure. All members were asked to resign and then new board members were elected to three-year rotating terms.

 

The Distinguished Alumni Luncheon was held on April 24th at the River Oaks Country Club and the honorees were Mac Dunwoody (’63), Cynthia Potter (’68), Alvis Prince, Jr. (’76), and Mark White (’58).

 

The board donated $5000 to irrigate the front of the school in front of the flagpole and also donated $1500 to the orchestra so that it could create a CD to enter into competition for a space to play at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Total gifts to the school this year were $16, 670. The board created a new category of membership – the Life Membership – for $500. They also agreed to hire a writer for the newsletter (Up until this time, the newsletter had been created by the school’s journalism department.)

 

The new board members were Fran Callahan, Parent, President; William E. Bammel, Jr. (‘61), Vice-President; Carolyn Schill Rappazzo (’53), Secretary; Eunice Meyer, Parent, Treasurer; John Adkins (’70), Burt Ballanfant (’65), Katherine Hackney Bertelsen (’42), Maury Bronstein (’89), Marilyn Ralls Johnson (’60), Jan Clark Kellogg (’70), Alisa Manning Peppers (’85), David Redford (’58), Elizabeth Dennis Rockwell (’38), and Lois Hamilton Wright (’69).

 

2002 – 2003

Fran Callahan retired as the board president and was then hired as a part – time employee with the title of Executive Director. The board voted to purchase the fund raising software, Donorperfect, to handle all database and donation information. It also started its first website and hired a stockbroker to handle its investments.

 

The board voted to create the HOPE Scholarship program. (Having the Opportunity for Post-Secondary Education) The plan was that the HOPE Scholarships would be awarded each year to two “B” average students. The scholarships would be $1000 for each student for each year he or she remained in college. The board planned to start collecting money for these scholarships on the membership application and created a special fund just for them. It would begin awarding the scholarships when the fund reached a level sufficient for supplying the students for several years.

 

The board began to do fundraising for the football field improvement project. This plan, developed by Sam Boggess and her architect husband David Boggess, consisted of a new scoreboard, new mowing equipment, and a new sports building with bathrooms. (Most late afternoons and weekends, when various games and practices were going on, there were no bathrooms available at the school – they were all locked.) The Fondren Foundation donated $40,000, the Baseball Booster Club donated $25,000, and the Moran Foundation donated $13,000. Other individuals contributed the remaining funds to reach the $150,000 required to construct the building.

 

An architect was hired to begin designing a new fence for the property. (The fence project was later postponed for lack of funding.)

 

The Distinguished Alumni Luncheon was held on Aparil 10th and the honorees were the three most recent District Attorneys of Harris County, Carol Vance (’51), Johnny Holmes (’59), and Chuck Rosenthal (’63).

 

Fran Callahan went to Dallas to visit with the director of the Highland Park Alumni Association since it was the only high school she could find that was involved with raising money. She learned that when Highland Park High School decided to start an alumni association, the superintendent presented them with a database of all the graduates! This eliminated the need for several years of research which the Lamar Alumni Association had had to fund to develop its database. She also learned that after the “Robin Hood Law” had been passed by the Texas legislature, Highland Park had to begin donating 65% of its property tax income which was then shared by the poorer school districts in the state. After this happened, the Highland Park Alumni Association changed their priorities and began raising significant funds so as to cover the shortfall in the school’s budget.

 

Dr. James McSwain, the principal, approached the board and asked if they would take on the project of renovating the auditorium. Lamar had had a long history of wonderful Fine Arts productions in the past, but the auditorium was no longer functional. The lighting, sound, seating, and etc. were all in poor shape. Various groups at Lamar had to have their performances elsewhere because of these conditions. The estimate to update the auditorium was $2 to $3 million. The board had not yet raised that kind of money, but was willing to make the attempt.

 

In August, Fran went to Austin, Texas to visit with Ruth Denney. Mrs. Denney had been the theatre teacher at Lamar for many years in the 1950’s and 1960’s. She was well loved and respected by her students. The program was very successful and the students won many competitions during her years at Lamar. Many of these same students went on to Broadway and Hollywood fame. Fran asked Mrs. Denney if she would contact some of her students and ask them to help Lamar raise funds to renovate the auditorium. She agreed and plans were put in place to have a special performance dedicated to Mrs. Denney in 2004. Tommy Tune agreed to be the headliner.

 

The board contributed $27,100 to the school which included a special mower for the athletic fields and gifts to teachers.

 

The board included John Adkins, (’70) President; Jan Clark Kellogg (’68), Vice-President; William E. Bammel, Jr. (’61); Marilyn Ralls Johnson (’60), Secretary; Burt Ballanfant (’65), Maury Bronstein (’89), Tim Gorham, Parent, Helen Holmes Maxson (’69), Alisa Manning Peppers (’85), Carolyn Rappazzo (’53), David Redford (’58), and Lois Hamilton Wright (’69).  Fran Callahan was chosen as the first Executive Director.

 

2003 – 2004

There was no luncheon this year because of the Tommy Tune event in February that kicked-off the fund raising for the renovation of the auditorium. The event was a huge success. Jaclyn Smith, Robert Foxworth, and Betty Beaird were present, and Paula Prentiss, Carlin Glenn Masterson, Melindy Britt, Tommy Sands and Lilly Tomlin were there in a specially prepared video. All except Ms. Tomlin had been Mrs. Denney’s students; Tomlin had known her in her later years at the University of Texas. Over 1000 alumni, parents, and students attended the event. Mrs. Denney was present and received accolades from all of her past students for the teaching she had done. It was a wonderful night for her and for Lamar.

 

Jerry Kramer was hired to do a quick Feasibility Study to determine whether or not we could raise funds for the renovation of the auditorium. Morris Architects provided a rendering to give people an idea of the scope of the project.

 

The board put on a special event to honor Linda Ellerbee (‘62) the author, TV producer, and newscaster. They also organized participation in the West University Rotary Golf Tournament. We provided players, students, and Homero Blancas (‘58) the famous professional golf player and Lamar graduate. The Rotary later donated $10,000 to our sports building effort.

 

The board purchased and planted seven crepe myrtle trees on the west side of the auditorium and began work with Harris Publishing to produce the second alumni directory.

 

The board included Jan Clark Kellogg (’68), President; David Redford, (’58), Vice-President; Joel Berry, (’68), Treasurer; Marilyn Ralls Johnson (’60), Secretary; Theresa Moore Frierson (’70), Harry Glauser (’63), Helen Holmes Maxson (‘69), Alvis Prince (’76), Joe Rogers (’55), Allison Seeman (’99), and Itze Soliz-Matthews (’81). Fran Callahan was the Executive Director.

 

2004 – 2005

Tom Herren was hired to do an in-depth Feasibility Study to determine whether we could raise the funds necessary to renovate the auditorium. He concluded that we could possibly make $3 million. Ray Bailey Architects was hired to do the design and develop the plans for the renovation. Several other items were added to the list to round it up to $3 million. This list included a new fence, a new softball field for the girls, a greenhouse for the new horticulture program, funding for the association, and the creation of an endowment for maintaining the renovated auditorium and supplying other needs for the school.

 

The board organized the first Big Red Run, a 5K run/walk around the perimeter of the school and neighborhood. Over 400 runners participated.

 

The Distinguished Alumni Luncheon was held on April 27th at the Double Tree Hotel for the first time. The honorees were Tom Barrow (’41), Lee Hogan (’62), Robbin Parish (’60), and Ernie Cockrell (’63). The luncheon was a success, but the board determined that in the future the luncheon should always be held at the River Oaks Country Club.

 

The board hired Tom Herren (‘57) to organize the Capital Campaign and asked Penny Butler (‘57) to be the chair. Dan Hedges (‘61) was asked to be the chair of the alumni arm of the campaign. Volunteers began soliciting donations from foundations and alumni.

 

The first two HOPE Scholarship students were chosen: Kimberly Lopez and Bich Tran.
Both were planning to attend the University of Houston.

 

The first funds were spent on improving the auditorium by installing desperately needed new lighting. ($53,000)

The board included David Redford, (’58), President; Harry Glauser (’63), Vice-President; Joel Berry, (’68), Treasurer; Theresa Moore Frierson (’70), Secretary; Nancy Brock (’57), Suzan Clark Glickman (’61), Reb Gregg (‘47), Steve Jenkins (’74), Sarah Lane Jones (’94), Helen Homes Maxson (’69), Joe Rogers (’55), and Lee Chatham Seureau (’69). Fran Callahan was the Executive Director.

 

(The Friends of Lamar board voted to expand its membership to twelve by  adding representatives from the Lamar PTO and other alumni It also voted to change its name to The Lamar Foundation.)

 

2005 – 2006

The Capital Campaign pledges were at $421,000 in August and had reached $1,037,000 by June.

 

Patti Poff was hired by the association to run the College Corner. The College Corner had been started by volunteers in the PTO to help students with their college applications. It had been run by volunteers, but the demand for assistance was so great, the board decided to help by hiring a permanent person. (This worked so well and so many students were helped that the school hired Patti the next year and expanded the service to two full time people.)

 

The board hired Blazek and Vetterling to perform its first audit.

 

The board sponsored the second Big Red Run. This 5K run/walk was through River Oaks, a much better race course than before. It netted $7000.

 

The board awarded two new HOPE Scholarships for a total of four.

 

The by-laws were modified to expand the board to 15 members.

 

The Distinguished Alumni Luncheon was held on April 25th and the honorees were Charles Duncan (’43), Francie Mendenhall (’69), Kathy Ruiz (’75), Dr. Louise Strong (’62), and Bobby Whilden (’53).

 

The second edition of the Alumni Directory was created.

 

The board located and framed photos of all of the Lamar principals. They are now on permanent display in the Alumni Room.

 

The board included Harry Glauser, (’63), President; Theresa Moore Frierson (’70), Vice-President; Joel Berry, (’68), Treasurer; Jill Thompson Zivley (’74), Secretary; Sandy Crowder Eckles (’71), Suzan Clark Glickman (’61), Reb Gregg (‘45), Delia Wolf Johnson (’89), George C. Morris III, (’73), Daisy Whitridge Quayle (’62), Joe Rogers (’55),  Dick Walters (’63) and Ron Woliver (’58). Fran Callahan was the Executive Director.

 

2006 – 2007

Most of the time and effort this year was spent on visiting alumni and foundations seeking donations for the Capital Campaign.

 

The Distinguished Alumni Luncheon was held on May 4th and the honorees were Lauren Anderson (’79), General Randy House (’63), Gigi Kamrath Mygdal (’82), James Douglas Pitcock (’45), and Bill Poland (’63).

 

The board awarded three new HOPE Scholarships for a total of seven.

 

Construction on the new Sports Building was begun in February and completed before school started in the fall. ($153,000)

 

The third Big Red Run was held over the same River Oaks course but netted very little because there was no major underwriter.

 

The board donated $15,000 to improve the softball field at Levy Park for the girls’ softball team.

 

The Capital Campaign reached $1,900,000 in May.

 

The board included Harry Glauser, (’63), President; George C. Morris III, (’73), Vice-President; George Adams (’66), Treasurer; Jill Thompson Zivley (’74), Secretary; Penny Butler (’57), David Dollinger (’89), Suzan Clark Glickman (’61), Delia Wolf Johnson (’89), Daisy Whitridge Quayle (’62), Joe Rogers (’55), Amy Clark Taylor (’74), Dick Walters (’63), Ron Woliver (’58), and Lynn Zarr (’59). Fran Callahan was the Executive Director

 

2007 – 2008

The Capital Campaign reached $2,100,000 in September.

 

The board sponsored the 70th Anniversary Event in November. Approximately 2,000 alumni attended. There was food, entertainment, a pep rally for the football team, including the band and the cheerleaders. There was a performance of the famous Choralettes in the auditorium. Each class was provided a classroom in which to gather. Yearbooks, trophies and other memorabilia were displayed. The biggest hits were the 4’x 8’ enlargements of the panoramic class photos which were displayed on the walls in each classroom. The alumni really enjoyed seeing themselves up close again. Several members of the first graduating class (1938) were present. They were given large colored buttons with their year on them to wear and were chauffeured around in golf carts. Food and drink were available as were signup sheets and tents for all the organizations.

 

The Distinguished Alumni Luncheon was held on April 23rd and the honorees were Lt. Governor David Dewhurst (’63), Leila McConnell Gadbois (’43), Henri Gadbois (’48), Joanne King Herring , and John Lindsey (‘40).

 

The board donated $82,388 for the purchase of a new greenhouse 80’x43’. The board transferred to the Lamar PTO $67,000 in funds which had been donated to the Capital Campaign. The donors had changed their mind and wanted to fund the construction of a new entry gate for Lamar. $37,000 from this donation were later also transferred to the Lamar PTO for the fencing and beautification projects.

 

The board presented a check for $462,800 to HISD for the installation of new chairs in the performance hall and donated $7,800 for improvements to the softball field.

 

The board awarded two new HOPE Scholarships for a total of nine.

 

A fourth Big Red Run was cancelled because of the lack of underwriting.

 

The Capital Campaign reached $2,470,000 in June.

 

The board included George C. Morris III, (’73), President; Dick Walters (’63), Vice-President; George Adams (’66), Treasurer; Jill Thompson Zivley (’74), Secretary; Penny Butler (’57), Marianne Nevill Crain (’68), David Dollinger (’89), Jonathan Frels (’94), Charles Giraud III (’58), Delia Wolf Johnson (’89), Nancy Eversole Moncrief (’69), Daisy Whitridge Quayle (’62), Joe Rogers (’55), Roland Sledge (’64), Amy Clark Taylor (’74), and Lynn Zarr (’59). Fran Callahan was the Executive Director.

 

2008 – 2009

Meetings between representatives of the Lamar High School Alumni Association and the Lamar Foundation (formerly the Friends of Lamar) to discuss a potential merger had been going on for two years. David Redford, who had left the alumni board to serve on the Lamar Foundation board, had been trying to get a proposal for the merger ratified by both groups. The Lamar Foundation wanted to go out of existence and hand over its funds to the alumni association to manage, but they had several stipulations. The Foundation had had $111,000, but due to the recent economic downturn, these funds were then estimated at $73,000. The Alumni Board agreed to the stipulations and took the funds in two increments: 1) $60,000 would be placed in an endowment account who proceeds would be used to fund future scholarships, and 2) the remaining funds would be placed in a new special account to cover the costs of the annual teachers’ awards and the four previously committed Foundation student scholarships using both principal and interest. Two new accounts were therefore established: one at Schwab for the $60,000 and one at the Bank of Texas for the teachers’ awards and four promised scholarships.

 

The auditorium renovation proceeded during the summer with a thousand new upholstered chairs installed, a new stage surface, a new stage curtain, new carpeting, a new sound system and new lights. The foyer floor was resurfaced, and the stair railings were polished. Two very tedious and time consuming jobs included the scraping and painting of the two large metal grills on either side of the stage and the under-the-balcony light fixtures. ($303,000) The old wooden seats were made available for purchase by alumni.

 

The Alumni Board purchased a nine foot concert grand Steinway piano, which had once belonged to Harry Connick, Jr. during his national tour, for use in the new performance hall. Some of the funds for this purchase came from the Lamar Business Resource Council and from Kathrine McGovern (’51).

 

Fran Callahan revisited the Highland Park High School Alumni Association and learned that they now had five full time employees because of their need to raise $1million a year due to the Robin Hood Law.

 

The year’s Distinguished Alumni Luncheon  was held on April 21st and the honorees were  Dr. Donald Hargan (’53), Dorothy Knox Houston (’62), Brigadier General Michael Longoria (’74), and the nine members of the Santamaria family who all graduated from Lamar.: Joe Santamaria (’57), Philip Santamaria (’58), Vincent Santamaria (‘60), Phyllis Santamaria (’61), Jane Santamaria Gnazzo (’63), Richard Santamaria (’64), Lillian Santamaria (’67), John Santamaria (’68), and George Santamaria (’69).

 

The board awarded three new HOPE Scholarships for a total of twelve.

 

Mark Stamey, a new board member, had created The Dick Elledge Memorial Golf Tournament, named after his deceased friend, in June of 2008.  He suggested that the alumni association take over the golf tournament and use the funds to donate to improve the golf program at Lamar and to give two students scholarships. The board agreed and the second golf tournament was held in June 2009. Over 60 golfers attended. Two scholarships were presented to students and $!500 was donated to the golf program.

 

The board members included Dick Walters (’63), President; Roland Sledge (’64), Vice-President; Ray Frierson (’73), Treasurer; Jill Kerbow Imhoff (’77) Secretary; Arlen Ferguon (’59), Charles Giraud III (’58), Melton Henry (’63), Delia Wolf Johnson (’89), Jay Loucks (’61), George C. Morris III (’73), David Redford (’58), Joe Rogers (’55), and Mary Stamey (’67). Fran Callahan was the Executive Director.

 

2009 – 2010

Tommy Tune returned to dedicate the new performance hall on October 21, 2009. Over 1000 alumni and friends attended what was a fabulous show. The renovated auditorium was formally renamed The Ned S. Holmes Performance Hall in honor of its largest donor. Plaques honoring Ruth Denney were placed on either side of the stage and plaques honoring other major donors to the Cap;ital Campaign were placed in specific classrooms in the school.

 

Bailey Architects were asked to design new fencing for the east and south sides of the campus – the last large project from the Capital Campaign effort.

 

The third Alumni Directory was published.

 

The Distinguished Alumni Luncheon was held on April 28th, and the honorees were Bruce Belin (’44), Jimmy Brill (’51), Tommy Tune (’57), Scott Caven (’60), and Jan LeMaster Redford (’60). There was also a bus trip for alumni to Galveston, two days after the luncheon, to watch Tommy Tune perform at the Galveston Opera House.

 

The board awarded three new HOPE Scholarships for a total of twelve. The first two recipients of the HOPE Scholarship who had graduated in 2008 spoke at the Distinguished Alumni Luncheon and thanked the alumni for all their support.

 

The board was asked to assist the football program in raising funds to improve the field, and they agreed to help. The summer researchers will make a list of all the students who had played football from 1938 to 1990. A plan for hosting a series of events for former Lamar football players to get them interested in helping support the planned improvements for the football field was developed for the fall. Enlargements were made of all the old football team photographs and DVD copies of old football film were also made.

 

The third Dick Elledge Memorial Golf Tournament was held in June with over 100 golfers. Two scholarships were awarded and $1500 was given to the golf program.

 

The board donated $254,000 for more lights, sound, video, etc., for the performance hall.

 

The board included Dick Walter (’63), President; Roland sledge (’64), Vice-President; Ray Frierson (’73), Treasurer; Ellen Dillinlgham Heemer (‘57), Secretary; Gil Baumgarten (’78), Aaron Cohan (’96), Rebecca Dawson Cubberly (’70), Ray Hankamer (’61), Melton Henry (’63), Jill Kerbow Imhoff 9’77), Jay Loucks (’61), David Redford (’58), and Mark Stamey (’67).