Why We Give: Dr. Guy '55 and Jo Anne (Yarbrough) Keeter '55; Dr. Kyle '81 and Carolyn Keeter
By Dr. Kyle Keeter
With more than 20 family members attending HSU over a span of 100+ years, it should be no surprise that Hardin-Simmons is in our family's blood. My grandparents, parents, some aunts and uncles, cousins, one brother, and two nieces all attended our beloved university.
While I'm not one to live in the past, family legacy is important to me. When my Uncle John died in World War II in 1942, my grandparents established an award at HSU in his memory. Since 1943, the John J. Keeter Jr. Alumni Service Award, the highest alumni honor, has been bestowed upon an HSU alumnus or alumna annually.
While the Keeter Award has much to do with our name recognition, it's just part of our family legacy at Hardin-Simmons. After all, if it weren't for HSU, I wouldn't have been born. My grandparents met at HSU, and my father's roommate, Chick Tiger '54, set him and my mother up on a blind date. They dated their junior and senior years, and married three months after graduating. Mom then taught school while Dad attended dental school. I followed in his footsteps, also becoming a dentist.
HSU provided a solid educational foundation for us. Mom was well-prepared for her teaching career. Dad and I were both ready for dental school, as much as — if not more than — our classmates who graduated from large state universities. Professors cared about us, not just as students, but as individuals. Two of my professors, Dr. Taylor Rankin and Dr. George Newman, helped me prep for dental school interviews. I was deeply honored when I was asked several months ago to serve as a Trustee of the University, especially since the board is currently chaired by Dr. Newman.
Mom was a P.E. major, and one of her favorite teachers was Billie (Shirley) Martin. Amazingly, more than 60 years after graduating, Mom and Mrs. Martin still talk on a routine basis. Mrs. Martin's late husband, Dr. J. G. Martin, was the advisor for my fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, and one of my favorite faculty members.
Dad served on the inaugural board of the Young Associates, and he later joined the Board of Development. I served on the Student Foundation, which was a great experience. One of our duties was interacting with prospective students, encouraging them to make HSU their choice. Student Foundation was also involved with the Phonathon fundraiser. Later, when I was on the receiving end of those phone calls as an alumnus, I gladly gave.
Continuing the family tradition is one reason my parents, my wife, and I started giving several years after graduating from HSU. While Carolyn attended elsewhere, she wholeheartedly joins me in supporting the University.
Mom, Dad, and I were all blessed by our time as students — the relationships we formed with faculty, the lasting friendships we made, the opportunities for leadership, and the quality education we received. Because of those things, it's only natural to give back, especially to help others who couldn't attend HSU without receiving help. I also want to make HSU proud of our family, and make our family proud of Hardin-Simmons.