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Frank Henderson (F. H. “Bub”) McDowell

Greenville Herald Banner
October 1, 2006

COMMERCE — Mr. Frank Henderson (F. H. “Bub”) McDowell, 93, the seventh president of East Texas State University in Commerce (now Texas A&M University-Commerce) died Sept. 28, 2006, at his home in Commerce. Services are at 10 a.m. Monday at the First United Methodist Church of Commerce. Burial will follow at Rosemound Cemetery in Commerce. Jones-Walker and Son Funeral Home of Commerce is in charge of arrangements. When Mr. McDowell became assistant business manger at ETSU in 1938, he began a career that spanned nearly 45 years at the university and culminated with his election as president in June of 1972. Although he retired in 1982, Mr. McDowell continued to provide volunteer leadership to the university and his adopted hometown. Of his lengthy career at ETSU, Mr. McDowell once said that he was most proud of the role he played in helping a small teachers college become a great regional university. Mr. McDowell was born Jan. 5, 1913, in Paris, Texas, to Walter Clyde and Della Henderson McDowell. He graduated from the public schools of Paris and attended Paris Junior College before earning a B.S. degree in 1938 at then East Texas State College. He immediately signed on as the college’s assistant business manager, a career interrupted by the Navy, and later successively served as business manager, comptroller, and vice president for administration prior to becoming president.

Two major events in his life occurred in 1942 when he earned an M.S. degree at East Texas State and was married to Martha Jo Lee of Sunnyvale on Nov. 12, 1942. She preceded him in death in 1987. Mr. McDowell became known throughout Texas for his leadership in the higher education community and his detailed knowledge of higher education finance. He twice chaired the Council of Presidents of the state’s public colleges and universities. In recognition of his exemplary service to his alma mater, profession, and community, Mr. McDowell was named a Distinguished Alumnus of ETSU in 1987. His wife was accorded that same honor in 1982, and their daughter, Susan McDowell Wood, was named a Distinguished Alumna of ETSU in 1999. Ms. Wood, who survives, is a noted poet and a professor at Rice University in Houston.

Following his retirement, Mr. McDowell assumed an active role in community service and continued his lay leadership in the Commerce First Christian Church where he had been an elder, chairman of the board and treasurer. Mr. McDowell’s community leadership included the Commerce Chamber of Commerce (president) and service as treasurer of the Friends of the Commerce Public Library, Meals on Wheels, the Commerce United Way and Friends of East Texas State University. He also completed an un-expired term as a member of the Commerce City Commission. As evidence of his record of community service, which included chairing the Commerce Water District that provided Commerce with its first reliable water supply in 70 years, Mr. McDowell was twice honored as Commerce’s “Citizen of the Year.” Preceding him in death were his wife, father, mother, and a brother, Clyde William McDowell. Survivors, in addition to his daughter, include his grandchildren and their partners, Caitlin Wood and Martha Schoolman of Cincinnati, Ohio, and Caleb Wood and Amber Kapela of Baltimore, Md., and special friends Steven and Glenna Siebenhausen and Jim and Claire Reynolds. The family would like to express their deepest thanks to his devoted caregivers, especially Cindy Pinson, Carolyn Newberry and Connie Stephens. Memorials may be made to the F.H. and Martha Jo McDowell Scholarship Fund at A&M-Commerce or to the First Christian Church of Commerce. Visitation is from 6 to 8 p.m. today at the funeral home. A reception has been scheduled Monday at the Founder’s Lounge at Texas A&M University-Commerce following the graveside service.

Submitted by Elaine Nall Bay

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