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Kelly Kunkel '85

Kelly Kunkel with her family

From left to right are Emily Kunkel, Melinda Kunkel (ex 1985-86), Abby (Kunkel) Tramel, Claire (Kunkel) Smith '16, and Kelly Kunkel

When did you attend HSU?

I transferred to HSU the fall of 1982 from Tarrant County College. I graduated in May of 1985.

Why did you choose HSU?

Several friends from my hometown of North Richland Hills attended HSU, so as I visited, I got to know the school. I also had surrendered to the ministry. HSU offered a tremendous education enlightened by faith. I knew I would learn a great deal in preparation to serve the Lord with my career.

Did you and Melinda meet during HSU days?

Technically, Melinda and I met at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church. I led a Jr. High Bible Study as an HSU student that met in homes. The first home we met in was Lori Finley's home. Her parents were Linda and Dewaine Finley. Lori had a big sister named Melinda. Melinda went to Baylor her first year but did not like it. She transferred to HSU the next year. It is interesting that I met and knew her entire family before I really met her.

I worked at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church as an activities intern. That summer, we were sponsoring a watermelon fellowship after church. I was setting up for that and sneaked in the back doors of the church since I was late. She was also late that evening. We sat by each other. The next day, we began as counselors at Camp Sonshine. I arranged the chairs in order to sit by her. We began dating a week later.

We married in December of 1986. She transferred away from HSU the spring of 1987 because we moved to Ft. Worth for me to attend Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in education from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville after we began serving there at a local church.

I spent the first decade of our married life serving churches in Weatherford, Huntsville, and Corpus Christi. I then moved into education. I served as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal for 24 years. This month, I officially retired. I now serve as Pastor at First Baptist Church in Gorman. I am celebrating my 40th high school reunion this year from Haltom High School in the Birdville ISD in Ft. Worth.

As I look back over my life of serving God, He has blessed in so many ways. There have not always been days of plenty. However, God has always been present. Melinda and I are enjoying our 34th year together. He has blessed us with three beautiful daughters and just this year, we've gained two sons-in-law. "What a ride" the last 30 plus years have been. It is interesting how God will use you if you simply make yourself available.

How do you stay involved and connected to HSU?

We live about an hour from Abilene. We enjoy attending sporting events and other activities several times each year. Several years ago at a local restaurant, I ran into Carlene Spicer, a well-loved former HSU English professor. Shortly after that, she mentioned my name at the next Alumni Association Board meeting, and I was asked to join the group. Through my service on the Alumni Association Board, I have participated in conducting the student ring ceremony, graduation activities, homecoming, and other alumni-sponsored events.

Why did you choose to give back to HSU?

As a student, I received so much from HSU including the sacrificial gift of time from each staff member, contributions through the Baptist Cooperative Program, scholarships, and alumni gifts. Because of that generosity, I also wanted to give back to the next generation.

When giving to HSU, we can choose from a vast array of programs! There are opportunities to support any of the athletic teams, the freshman Bible project, Baptist Student Ministries, summer science camps for kids, the general academic scholarship fund, or one can even choose to support a statue honoring HSU Traditions and our first official mascot from 1916, "Dam-It" the beloved dog.

What do you think other people should know about giving back to HSU?

Hardin-Simmons is an accredited institution of higher learning, and part of what is measured in earning that score is our percentage of alumni who give to the school. So, for HSU's percentage of alumni giving, the important factor is how many alumni give, and each gift counts, regardless if it is $20 or $20,000. HSU is scored on the number of donors, not the amount each gives. I want my alma mater to continue to thrive in the ultra-competitive field of higher education for years to come. I challenge all alumni to make a gift this year, even if it is just $10.

Is there anything else you want to share?

HSU is under great leadership from President Eric Bruntmyer and the Board of Trustees. They are having to make some very hard decisions in the best long-term interest of HSU. I pray for them and challenge you to do the same. These are challenging times to be in leadership. May God continue to bless HSU through The Way Forward just as He has since before her inception in 1891.

Looking to build your legacy through a planned gift? To learn how you can make a lasting difference at HSU, contact Eric Bruntmyer, President, or one of our development officers at or (325) 670-1260.

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