Thursday, September 25, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Margaret Estes Davis

LeTourneau University said goodbye to a dear friend Tuesday. We were honored to host the funeral on campus.

Margaret Estes Davis, 96, died in a Dallas hospital last week after a lifetime of leadership, service to others and passion for education.

Margaret was an eye-witness to the founding of LeTourneau University.  In 1945, her husband Carl Estes brought R.G. and Evelyn LeTourneau to Longview in hopes they would build a manufacturing facility creating good jobs in post war Longview.  When God revealed a vision for the transformation of Harmon Army Hospital into a technical school to train returning veterans, Margaret was there, and with her death an era in our university's history has closed.

In 1967, she became the first female trustee of the school who was not a member of the LeTourneau family.  She served on our Board through the 1970s.

When LeTourneau College needed to build a library in 1971, Margaret used her  considerable influence as publisher of the Longview News-Journal to encourage the community to support it, and today, the Margaret Estes Library and Learning Resource Center bears her name.

When the school needed a new science and engineering building, she was again in a leadership role, having donated her 500-acre ranch just south on Estes Parkway to the university to help with its funding.  Today, the Glaske Center is home to our largest-ever enrollment in engineering, science and technology. 

College trustee, newspaper publisher, and rancher:  Margaret was a woman who got things done.  When the university opened a new residence hall in 2005, it was dedicated in  her honor as the Margaret Davis Residence Hall.  She was heralded as a "pioneer among women in leadership."  That she clearly was.

When the university needed a new chapel and performance center, she led again, by providing one of the initial gifts toward the S. E. Belcher Jr. Chapel and Performance Center, which serves students and the community.  I know she was most proud of the Belcher Center because it brought together her passions for LeTourneau students, the Longview community and the arts

Margaret's love for Longview and for LeTourneau University is enduring. We didn't say goodbye Tuesday.  Instead werecommitted ourselves to telling future generations the story of this pioneer among women in leadership.