Thursday, December 18, 2014

Dallas Activities

"Lone Star Historian 2" is a blog about the travels and activities of the State Historian of Texas during his second year. Bill O'Neal was appointed to a two-year term by Gov. Rick Perry on August 22, 2012, at an impressive ceremony in the State Capitol. Bill is headquartered at Panola College ( in Carthage, where he has taught since 1970. For more than 20 years Bill conducted the state's first Traveling Texas History class, a three-hour credit course which featured a 2,100-mile itinerary. In 2000 he was awarded a Piper Professorship, and in 2012 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wild West Historical Association. Bill has published over 40 books, almost half about Texas history subjects, and in 2007 he was named Best Living Non-Fiction Writer by True West Magazine. In 2013 he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by his alma mater, Texas A&M University - Commerce. 

Class of 2014
With, L to R: Dr. Adolfo Benavides, Dr. Dan Jones,
Dr. Alex Williams, and Dr. Mario Hayek
On Thursday evening, December 11, I was privileged to present the commencement address at graduation exercises of Texas A&M University – Commerce at the Universities Center of Dallas (UCD). The UCD, established in 1994, was the first Multi-Institution Teaching Center (MITC) for higher education in Texas. The UCD provides access to public higher education at the upper division and graduate levels to citizens who live, work, and find it convenient to take courses in downtown Dallas. Several area universities have offered courses at UCD through the years, and after opening with 23 students in the summer of 1994, during the fall of 2014 enrollment has swelled to 1,300 students. The majority of students take courses from Texas A&M – Commerce, and the commencement last week celebrated 26 TAMUC graduates, 23 of whom earned graduate degrees. 

With Dr. Benavides and Dr. Berri O'Neal
With Araceli Cadena, UCD Director of
Marketing and Recruitment who has
just received her MBA

UCD is currently located in the former Titche’s department store building, a legendary Dallas structure. The commencement was held in the spacious, handsome lobby. A standing-room-only crowd of 250 assembled for the ceremony. The stage was beautifully decorated, and a delicious catered buffet was available after the ceremony. My daughter, Dr. Berri O’Neal, serves as Executive Director of UCD, and she presided over the ceremony. 

Dr. Dan R. Jones, President of TAMUC, offered greetings to the audience, and later presented the degrees. Dr. Jones was assisted by Dr. Adolfo Benavides, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. My remarks focused upon the deep connection between Dallas and the state-supported institution at Commerce, going back decades to East Texas State Teachers College. The evening featured the happiness and dignity worthy of a university commencement. A special pleasure for me was the presence of my brother, Mike O’Neal, who drove in unexpectedly from his office in Carrollton. 
With Paul Epstein

L to R: Paul, Tim, and Bill

The following morning Karon and I drove to Ludus Studios, west of downtown Dallas. I had been contacted by Nevena Bentler of Castle Pictures in New York City, regarding their syndicated series, Gunslingers. A few months earlier six one-hour episodes of Gunslingers aired, focusing upon Wild Bill Hickok, Billy the Kid, Jesse James, and other noted Western gunmen. Gunslingers is an excellent series with quality production values, and I was flattered to receive an invitiation to be interviewed on-camera for the next series of episodes. I’ve appeared on a few of these programs in past years, but I’m especially excited about Gunslingers. (By coincidence, my latest book, Texas Gunslingers, was released by Arcadia Publications the following week.) Producer Paul Epstein conducted a four-hour interview, which was taped by Tim Metzger, who recently was nominated for an Emmy in cinematography. 

During the next two days, “GrandKaron” and I enjoyed early Christmases in the homes of daughters Berri O’Neal Gormley and Lynn O’Neal Martinez. We had a grand time with Berri (and her three little children) and Lynn (and her two daughters). After Christmasing with daughters, sons-in-law, and five grandchildren, we left the Dallas area to pack up for a week of book signings and related programs (which will be the subject of the next blog). On the way home we had Christmas with another daughter, Dr. Shellie O’Neal, in Corsicana, where she is the head of the drama department at Navarro College. Karon and I drove into Corsicana at night, and as we proceeded down the town’s main thoroughfare – Beaton Street – we enjoyed brilliant lighting and a towering Christmas tree in the middle of a major intersection. Indeed, we had seen fine Christmas decorations throughout our trip. And a couple of days after Christmas our entire family will be at the Van Alstyne home of our youngest daughter, Causby O’Neal Henderson. Causby and Dusty’s youngest daughter, Kendall, will have her eighth birthday on Saturday, and she will be baptized on Sunday. It will be a wonderful close to the Christmas season. 
                                       MERRY CHRISTMAS, TEXAS!

For more information:  
Corsicana's towering street tree
GrandKaron and Nolan Gormley
Granddaddy and Reagan Gormley

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