Leader of the Pack


Photo by Frank Elrod LEADER AMONG LEADERS - Former Texas Gov. Dolph Briscoe (center), who received the Uvalde High School Alumni Association Leader of the Pack Award Saturday from Terry Harrison, association president (left) poses for a picture with UHS Alumni Association scholarship winners (left to right) Arthur Thomas II, Katie Dorflinger and Clayborn “Kyle” Machen.

Briscoe accepts award for leadership from UHS alumni

by Carol Kothmann - Managing editor

There is no doubt that former Texas Gov. Dolph Briscoe is a leader among leaders, but Saturday Briscoe's fellow graduates from Uvalde High School made it official by presenting him with the first ever Leader of the Pack Lifetime Achievement Award at the UHS Alumni Association luncheon.

Briscoe, a Uvalde native son who was valedictorian of the Uvalde High School class of 1939, was all smiles accepting the plaque that featured a depiction of the UHS mascot, the coyote.

“This recognition means more than words could ever express,” Briscoe said. He praised the area where he was born and raised, graduated from high school and has chosen to live.

“We have a great city, a great town. I don't see any reason to go anywhere else.” He lauded association scholarship recipients Katie Dorflinger, Clayborn “Kyle” Machen and Arthur Thomas II. The 2008 graduates were also recognized at the luncheon that followed the annual UHS Alumni Association business meeting.

“They are the future of this area, our state and our country. Our future is in good hands,” Briscoe said.

He urged alumni present to remember their school days with an eye on the future.

“Just look back,” he said. “Think about what has changed. What a greater life of opportunity we have now.”

Briscoe, who served as a state representative prior to becoming governor and is one of the world's most well known ranchers, said great things have happened since his days at UHS, and while those years and the time between then and now has been wonderful, he sees brighter times in the future for Uvalde, Texas and the United States.

“It's a thrill to think about the years ahead,” Briscoe said, noting that the future is especially bright for Texas, the only state in the nation whose citizens voluntarily joined the union.

He said Texans have a “can do, will do, have done attitude.”

“That still is part of our culture. That there is nothing we can't do,” Briscoe said.

In recalling his days at UHS, Briscoe remembered his classmates with fondness. “It was a great group.” He singled out his friend George Horner, “one of the finest men I've ever known,” for special recognition. Horner had originally been scheduled to present Briscoe with the award but was unable to attend the event because of health problems.

Briscoe said Uvalde is a great city with a great school system. “We've all had a great opportunity by being part of this community.

“Uvalde is the place to be for a young person today,” he said. “The past has been great, but the best is yet to come.”

“Let us dedicate ourselves to the future. Let's devote ourselves to making it better,” he said.

Terrance Harrison, chairman of the 2008 Annual Awards Ceremony and Luncheon, echoed Briscoe's message.

“The future looks great. The future looks bright. We want Uvalde Alumni Association to be instrumental in that.”

He said that the association's original goal, which has been achieved, was to provide scholarships to UHS graduates. “We've succeeded at that.”

Now, he said, the association and its members have the chance to do more by sharing their gifts with the community. He urged members to use whatever talents they have to support the community through the association.

“Please get the word out about Uvalde Alumni Association,” he said.

Harrison, who presented Briscoe with the Leader of the Pack award, served as master of ceremonies for the event. He recognized the scholarship recipients and introduced Lawrence Ray Smith. Smith served on the nominating committee with Gladue Tafolla and Edna Hernandez.

Dorflinger, who plans to attend The University of Texas at San Antonio, was a member of the track and field team and qualified for regionals, was on the wrestling and volleyball teams and served as volleyball manager, was a member of the National Honor Society, Coyote Country News staff, a tutor for the Advancement Via Individual Determination program, served on mission trips and volunteered with the local Special Olympics, was an actress in local plays and earned 21 college dual-credit hours with a 4.0 grade-point average.

Machen, who plans to attend Texas A&M University in College Station, was a member and captain of the UHS swim team and earned all-district and all-region academic recognition. He was a member of the National Honor Society, UHS football and track teams and was active in Uvalde County 4-H clubs, serving in numerous leadership positions. He is part of the Uvalde Chrysalis group and has led Bible studies and served on mission trips in Mexico, Florida and Minnesota, in addition to being chosen as Most Dependable by his classmates.

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Thomas was the recipient of the Paul Alfred “Freddy” Edwards Scholarship, which was presented by Gary Heyen, shown on the left with Governor Briscoe.

“I was very fortunate to know Paul Alfred “Freddy” Edwards,” said Heyen, who introduced Edwards' widow, Barbara.

Heyen said the Edwards famly has lived in Uvalde for 100 years and has been associated with the schools for 80 years. He read a letter from Edwards' brother, Willie, who was unable to attend the luncheon.

“My brother was the most literate man I've ever known. He was a lifetime learner,” Edwards wrote. He praised the selection of Thomas as the scholarship recipient, explaining that he has come to know him through his work as a member of the Band Boosters.

Thomas was a member of the band and brass section leader, “and plays a pretty mean tuba,” Edwards wrote. He was also a member of the track and field team and qualified for regionals for four years straight. He was a member of the Math Club, National Honor Society and National Technical Honor Society. He served as a catechism instructor at his church for the past two years. He plans to attend Southwest Texas Junior College in the fall.

Tod Nix, UHS principal, gave the keynote address at the business meeting held prior to the luncheon. Smith gave the invocation, and the lunch was catered by UHS graduate Steven Garner. Westwinds Woodwind Quartet performed between the business meeting and luncheon, and during the luncheon.