Jon '87 and Linda (Haire) Wheeler '85
By Linda Wheeler
With 500 students in my high school graduating class, I knew I wanted to attend a small university. One visit to the HSU campus, and my choice was made. While I was homesick my first semester, by spring, I loved being there! I became active in a local church and made friends with many of my fellow classmates.
At Hardin-Simmons, I had wonderful professors, including Dr. Ed Hewett, Mr. Lawson Hager and the late Dr. Lloyd Huff—all godly men who influenced my life. The HSU faculty wanted students to succeed in their classes, and in life—then and now. I couldn’t have attended Hardin-Simmons if I hadn’t received scholarships. The investment that others made in me—without even knowing me—changed my life for the better.
Jon was in the Cowboy Band, where he formed strong bonds with his “band brothers” that still endure. He had great experiences at HSU, too. He was a student worker in the Data Center, and was blessed when David Stovall, head of the department at the time, hired him as a full-time employee after graduating.
We were thrilled when both our daughters chose HSU. Jenny graduated in 2014 and is finishing PT school (at HSU, of course). She and her husband, David Spruiell, also a 2014 graduate, met at Hardin-Simmons, in the Cowboy Band, no less.
It’s hard to believe that our younger daughter, Sarah, a secondary education major, is already a junior. She loves HSU—and she’s in the Cowboy Band, too. It seems to be a family tradition.
We enjoy being involved in the HSU parents’ organization. We all talk about Hardin-Simmons being a family, and it truly is. Whether a student is the first in their family to attend HSU, or they are second, third or fourth generation, there is a closeness that is very special among parents. We’re forming even more lasting friendships through the parents’ organization.
At an alumni dinner years ago, a member of the development staff casually asked if we had ever considered making automatic monthly gifts. Our initial response was probably the same one that most people have: “We don’t have a lot of money.” What we quickly realized is that if a large group of people give a little regularly, it really adds up. We have been giving annually since 2001 and started giving monthly in 2005. We have increased the amount in recent years. We also make other gifts to HSU from time to time, mostly for the Cowboy Band and School of Education.
Even though we’re paying tuition for our daughters, we still feel the need to support the university by giving. We are especially proud that our daughter and son-in-law, Jenny and David, are already giving monthly to HSU—to the Cowboy Band, of course!