Prominent SFA donors to be recognized during 31st Gala

Stephen F. Austin State University will honor several prominent donors during the 31st annual SFA Gala Saturday, Dec. 14, in the Baker Pattillo Student Center Grand Ballroom.

This year’s honorees include the late Marilyn Cranford, Linda and the late Roy Bush, and Mike and Jackie Harbordt.

"The selflessness of this year's Gala honorees, both through generous contributions and years of service, has established a lasting impact on the lives of students and the campus community," said Jill Still, SFA vice president for university advancement. "We are pleased to be able to recognize their generosity, as well as faculty members whose dedication to teaching and research continues to enrich our university."

The Gala cocktail reception begins at 6 p.m. and will be followed by dinner at 7 p.m. Entertainment will be provided by Royal Dukes of Houston, a high-energy band playing music from pop, rock and jazz to rhythm and blues, funk, and Motown.

Tickets are $175 for orchestra seating and $125 for ballroom seating. For more information or to purchase tickets, call April Smith, associate director of development, at (936) 468-5406.

Marilyn Cranford
The late Marilyn Cranford is slated to be inducted into the Stephen F. Austin Society.

Cranford was born and raised in Sacul, Texas. She completed her high school education at the Stephen F. Austin State College Finishing School. She remained a steadfast friend of the university through the years, with her primary areas of support being the School of Art and the Arthur Temple College of Forestry and Agriculture.

More than 30 years ago, Cranford established the Melba Cranford Memorial Art Scholarship in memory of her sister, who was an SFA alumnus of the class of 1940. In 1998, she endowed the Arkan E. and Bonnie G. Cranford Scholarship to support students in the fields of forestry and horticulture.

Throughout the years, she lent her generous support to academic research efforts at SFA, most notably toward the groundbreaking work conducted by the National Center for Pharmaceutical Crops.

Cranford spent most of her adult life in Dallas, Texas, where she was employed as an X-ray technician. She returned to Sacul in 1979, where she remained until 2008. The last 10 years of her life were spent in Jacksonville, Texas.

SFA proudly recognizes Cranford for her support of the university.

Roy and Linda Bush
Roy was born in 1931 in Amarillo, though he grew up in Childress, spending his childhood helping raise chickens, cows, turkeys and mules.

Roy was a star football player in high school and was affectionately known as “Hollywood” due to his taste for expensive clothing, nice cars and fine footwear, according to his obituary.

He earned a Bachelor of Science in mathematics from SFA in 1957 and put to use the knowledge and skills he cultivated at the university while serving in the U.S. Navy and throughout his career.

In January 1965, Roy married Houston native Linda Stone before enjoying a 25-year career with Conoco, managing drilling operations in Louisiana and Italy, and eventually serving as vice president of Conoco Egypt.

Linda received her accounting degree from Louisiana State University and then began a career in the oil and gas industry. She later transitioned into the real estate field, working in New Orleans, Houston and Austin.

Roy and Linda Bush will be inducted into the Stephen F. Austin Society.

Following Roy’s death in 2018, Linda honored her late husband’s legacy by endowing the Roy E. and Linda Bush Fund, supporting the College of Sciences and Mathematics.

In April 2019, the SFA Board of Regents approved the university’s math building to be named the Roy E. and Linda Bush Mathematical Sciences Building in honor of the couple’s continual support of higher education and SFA.

The endowment’s distribution supports all areas within SFA’s College of Sciences and Mathematics.

Mike and Jackie Harbordt
The relationship Mike and Jackie Harbordt have with SFA has been one of immense service.

In fact, service is at the heart of most personal and professional endeavors the Harbordts have undertaken. They’ve been involved with the First United Methodist churches of Lufkin and Nacogdoches, the Diboll Jaycees, Rotary International, Deep East Texas Council of Government’s Health Services Committee and United Way.

The couple has supported a number of environmental nonprofits, which goes along with Mike’s educational and professional background engaging in environmental conservation and outreach. He graduated from SFA in 1963 with a Bachelor of Science then went on to receive a master’s degree from Southern Methodist University and ultimately a doctoral degree from Texas A&M University.

Mike worked with Texaco Inc. before joining Temple-Inland Inc. in 1971, where he was tasked with building an environmental department and company-wide environmental program. Mike worked with that company for more than 30 years.

Jackie and Mike are sustaining life members of the SFA Alumni Association; major supporters of the former SFA Varsity Club, now named the Purple Lights Fund; and have endowed several scholarships in support of areas across campus.

Endowments include the Mike and Jackie Harbordt Ladyjack Basketball Scholarship, Harbordt-Ward STEM Scholarship, Harbordt-Shumard STEM Scholarship, Katherine Harbordt Studer Scholarship in Criminal Justice, and the Julie Harbordt Whipple Scholarship in Elementary Education.

Since 2002, Mike has served in various positions on the SFA Alumni Association board, including president. He also has served on the SFASU Foundation board and SFA’s former Alumni Foundation as chair.

In 1994, Mike was named a Distinguished Alumnus and, just this year, he was named SFA Alumni Association director emeritus.

Jackie co-chaired SFA’s Hoops for Scholars Campaign for several years, raising approximately $100,000 for the program.

The Harbordts will be inducted into the Fredonia Society.

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