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Mary and Vance ('85/'87) Cooksey

Mary and Vance Cooksey

Mary and Vance (’85/’87) Cooksey

By Vance Cooksey

Growing up, there was always music in our house. I started playing the piano at age five, and later learned to play the guitar and the saxophone. As a child, I loved attending concerts, especially the Abilene Philharmonic. I knew that music was a calling in my life.

I was fortunate that my family had the means to provide musical instruments and private lessons while I was growing up. When I started at Hardin-Simmons, I majored in music and minored in business. There were many faculty members in the School of Music who nurtured and grew my musical interests including Dr. Larry Wolz and Dr. Loyd Hawthorne, as well as those who are now deceased—Dr. Jack Dean, Dr. Wesley Coffman, and Dr. J.G. Martin. Other living faculty members who influenced me were Dr. George Knight in Theology and Dr. Delores Washburn in English, with whom I keep up regularly.

The same year I completed my bachelor's degree, I began pursuing my master's in Counseling and Human Development. Dr. Bob Barnes and other faculty members in that program were instrumental in shaping my future.

I've been very blessed with a primary vocation in the corporate world and real estate, but music has always been my avocation. I'm fortunate to have served as principal organist at Holy Family Church in Abilene the last 25 years, as well as playing piano with friends and family every chance we get.

While Mary attended another university, she joins me in wholeheartedly giving financially to HSU. We've given annually for many years to general scholarships, orchestra camp, and other causes at Hardin-Simmons. After my mother died in 2014, we established an endowed scholarship in her memory for music students.

Being born into a family that valued education and music, it is heart breaking to imagine a kid like me with a passion for making music, only to be halted in its pursuit by financial restraints. Our scholarship is made available to students with God-given passion and talent to share their musical skills to the benefit of all they will serve.

Because we're able to leave much more to HSU after our deaths than we can during our lifetimes, we also included Hardin-Simmons in our estate plans. We want the Mullins-Cooksey Endowed Music Scholarship to grow large enough that no music students will ever have to end their educational pursuits due to financial barriers. It is gratifying to know that through the scholarship, for generations to come, young musicians at HSU will be beneficiaries of our desire to repay even in a small way the great rewards of the education and experiences I had at Hardin-Simmons.

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