I still 100% believe that as an alumna and a staff member of Tarleton, which is why I have such a heavy heart today. The Tarleton family is mourning the loss of one of our most beloved members, Barry B. Thompson, who passed away March 1st at his home is West, Texas. Barry B, as many on campus referred to him, was a Class of '56 graduate of Tarleton and would later serve as the university's president from 1982 to 1990 and then as the Chancellor of the A&M System from 1994-1999.
His efforts as TSU President were full of enthusiasm and dedication, just like his personality. He helped put Tarleton on the map, not only growing the student population, but also fighting for equal distribution from the State of Texas to public schools. He also had a hand in the growth and development of the campus itself, and the university honored his dedication in 2002 when they renamed the Student Development Center the Barry B. Thompson Student Center.
As a freshman I became very active in the Alumni Ambassadors organization and as we geared up for Homecoming I had no idea what to expect. I had heard mutterings of which notable alumni would be there and who we would get the opportunity to meet. All the older members in Ambassadors would talk about how neat it was that Mr. Thompson would remember their name, something that he was so fondly remembered for by many members of the Tarleton Family. Upon meeting him that fall and seeing him throughout the next few years, he did remember my name and he did remember my story. That personal connection he managed to make to Tarleton alumni, faculty, staff and students is just one of the many reasons why so many have heavy hearts today.
Barry B. Thompson will always be one of the people that helped instill my life-long love for this university, and I know I am not alone in that. Dr. Dennis McCabe, who served as TSU President after Barry B so eloquently captured his spirit with these words “after John Tarleton himself, the single most influential person to promote, to defend, and to serve this great institution of higher learning. He served Tarleton for nearly 60 years as student leader, as an active alumnus, as a faculty member, as its president, and as its chancellor…. I will remember him as a fair boss, a trusted colleague, and a knowledgeable mentor, but mostly as a special friend.”