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Baylor Alumni

Alumni 150

Kenneth Carlile

One way or the other, Dr. Kenneth Carlile's career was going to center around drilling—whether it was for oil or for cavities. "It was always about drilling, either shallow or deep," he has said. "You just can't drill as deep in dentistry."

The 1969 Baylor graduate had always intended on returning to his family's oil business in Marshall, where he had worked in the oil fields during his teens. But his father, Quinton '47, was skeptical of the long-term viability of the oil and gas industry. "It was about $3 a barrel for oil then, and only around twelve cents for gas," the younger Carlile remembered. "So we all went back to school, and I chose dentistry."

After earning a doctor of dental surgery degree from Baylor College of Dentistry in 1973, Carlile opened a dental practice in Marshall. But after several years, he found himself spending all his free time investing in the oil market. And when his side job became more lucrative than his "real" job, he knew it was time for a change. Carlile sold his dental practice and returned to school, earning bachelor's and master's degrees in geology from Centenary College.

He grew the family company, Marshall Exploration, into The Carlile Companies, a conglomerate of several different subsidiaries, including Camterra Resources, the oil and gas exploration arm of the business, with sites in six states and an offshore facility in the Gulf of Mexico.

When it came time for Carlile to influence his own sons in their career choices, he took a decidedly different approach than his own father. Instead of warning his son, Zach, away from the family business, Carlile encouraged him to join it. "It took a certain amount of arm twisting, I think," he has said. "We've grown a lot and we needed his expertise; we needed some younger perspective." 

Father and son saw a lot of each other in the mid-1990s, when both were enrolled at Baylor—Zach as an undergraduate business major, and Kenneth as a PhD student in the geology department. Both earned their degrees in 1996, and Zach joined the family business in 2001.

The Carlile family has remained united in not only their business, but also in the life of Baylor. In 2007, the family helped dedicate the Ken and Celia Carlile Atrium in the Baylor Sciences Building. During the dedication ceremony, Dr. Steven Driese, professor and chair of Baylor’s geology department, said, "Over the years, Ken and his family have assisted the geology department in innumerable ways. In spite of all his great successes, Ken has been, and remains, an especially approachable and down-to-earth person."—Lisa Asher

Albert Sidney Burleson
When Albert Sidney Burleson was appointed U.S. postmaster general by President Woodrow Wilson in 1913, it marked the culmination of a career in law and politics that had deep roots in the Burleson family's tradition of service. His grandfather had been a military leader and statesman in the Republic of Texas, serving as vice president. His father was a Texas Ranger and a major in the Confederate army. Born in 1863, Albert grew up in San Marcos with strong examples of leadership to follow.

After graduating from Baylor in 1881, Burleson earned a law degree from the University of Texas and practiced law in Austin. His first forays into politics were successful, and he climbed the ranks of the local Democratic Party. After serving as assistant city attorney of Austin from 1885 to 1890, he was appointed district attorney of the Twenty-sixth Judicial District in 1891.

Burleson eventually set his sights higher—toward Washington, D.C. He was elected to represent Texas as a U.S. congressman, serving in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1899 to 1913. During that stretch, he sat on the committees of agriculture, census, and foreign affairs, and he was a ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee. He was particularly active in promoting the development of agriculture.

One of Burleson's friends from his early political career in Austin, Edward M. House, had been central to Woodrow Wilson’s run for U.S. president. After Wilson won the election, House suggested several Texans for appointment to cabinet positions, including Burleson. Wilson took his advice, and as a result Burleson became the first native Texan ever to serve in the cabinet.

Burleson was U.S. postmaster general for eight years, from 1913 to 1921, a period during which America fought in World War I and navigated a tricky postwar environment. Burleson’s leadership during that time was innovative and, at times, controversial. In addition to developing parcel post and airmail service, he increased rural mail service. And in 1918 he became chair of the United States Telegraph and Telephone Administration when the federal government assumed control due to wartime circumstances.

But Burleson was criticized for blocking strikes by postal employees, segregating white and black postal workers, and banning anti-war material from the mail under the Espionage Act.

After the war, the communications infrastructure was returned to its corporate owners, despite Burleson's support for the permanent nationalization of telephone, telegraph, and cable services. In 1920, he served as chair of the United States Commission to the International Wire Communication Conference. After his retirement from public service in 1921, Burleson returned to Austin and was awarded an honorary doctorate by Baylor in 1930. He died in 1937 at the age of seventy-four.—Todd Copeland

Jack Loftis
Jack Loftis came to journalism by luck—or by necessity. He just plain needed a job while he was a Baylor student, and he found one in the circulation department of the Hillsboro Daily Mirror in his hometown.

"One day they asked if I could write sports," Loftis told the Baylor Line in 1987. "I said I could try." Well, it turned out to be a banner year for Hillsboro’s football team and for Loftis as well. While he remained a business major at Baylor, graduating in 1957, he began to take as many electives as possible in the journalism department. By 1962, Loftis was editor of the Hillsboro newspaper.

In 1965, Loftis joined the editorial staff of the Houston Chronicle on the city room copy desk. Five years later, he began a steady climb to the top when he became editor of Texas Magazine, the Chronicle’s Sunday magazine. He was named features editor in 1972 and assistant magazine editor of features in 1975. Loftis was promoted to assistant editor in 1979, when the paper moved from an afternoon to an all-day paper.

In 1987, the Chronicle was sold to the Hearst Corporation for a then-record amount of $415 million, and the new owners wanted to see some changes. So they appointed Loftis as vice president and editor, a post he held for fifteen years before being named editor emeritus of the paper, one of the top-ten in the nation in circulation.

As editor, Loftis told the Baylor Line, his management style was "to be visible, to get to know everybody, and get them to know me so they'll know what I expect. And I'll not expect anything out of anybody that I wouldn't do myself, as far as hard work goes. My dream for the Chronicle is to be recognized nationally as a very good newspaper."

Loftis was always known as a features man, and he had the distinction of having served as the president of both the American Association of Sunday and Feature Editors and of the Newspaper Features Council (NFC). He was credited with keeping the NFC alive in the mid-1980s through a revitalized board and a successful effort to get the syndicates to contribute money to the organization.

Loftis has also served as president of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, and he received the 1995 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Headliners Foundation of Texas.—Meg Cullar

Priscilla Owen
Judge Priscilla Owen's work ethic and moral values were shaped by the experiences of her childhood. Born in 1954 in Palacios, she lost her father to polio when she was ten months old. She lived on her family's farm before moving to Waco as a five-year-old when her mother remarried.

"We were a very tight-knit family, and I was taught to take responsibility for my mistakes and learn from them," she told the Baylor Line in 2006.

After her education in Waco, she attended the University of Texas for a year before transferring to Baylor. She entered the School of Law during her senior year, concurrently completing her undergraduate degree in 1976 and beginning work on her law degree. She graduated from law school at the top of her class in 1977.

After law school, she joined the Houston law firm of Andrews & Kurth, specializing in oil and gas litigation. Following sixteen years of practicing law, she decided to make a run for the Texas Supreme Court, the state's highest court for civil law cases. After seeking election advice from fellow Republican and Baylor graduate Tom Phillips '71, who at the time was serving as the court's chief justice, Owen won a seat on the Texas Supreme Court in 1994 and was re-elected in 2000.

During her years of serving as a justice, from 1995 to 2005, Owen collaborated with the other eight justices to issue opinions in more than a thousand cases. Judges outside the state often looked to Texas Supreme Court decisions when considering an issue because the court’s opinions were so thoroughly researched.

Owen's prominence on the state judiciary led to a nomination to the federal bench by President George W. Bush in 2001. Nominated to serve on the New Orleans-based Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, she was eventually confirmed by the U.S. Senate after enduring intense scrutiny from both the national media and political leaders. She took the oath of office for her new seat on June 6, 2005.

Unlike the Texas Supreme Court, the federal appellate court has jurisdiction over criminal cases. With cases involving almost every imaginable civil and criminal issue, including death-penalty cases, the court’s docket is remarkably varied and high in volume, totaling thousands of cases a year.

When not in her chambers, Owen spends time pursuing several "non-judgmental" activities, including cooking and riding horses. A member of St. Barnabas Evangelical Covenant Church in Austin, where she teaches Sunday school and has served as head of the altar guild, Owen is known as a kind person in addition to being a good judge "She's a thoughtful person," said Phillips. "If you're sick, she'll bring you a bowl of soup. If something good or bad happens to you, she takes notice of it."—Todd Copeland

Ray Perryman
If you want to know what's happening in the Texas economy—and, more importantly, what's going to happen—there is only one person to ask: Dr. Ray Perryman.

Widely considered one of the nation’s most influential and innovative economists, Perryman authors the Perryman Economic Forecast, a subscription service with business projections; the Perryman Report, a commentary on economic activity; a syndicated weekly column called the Economist; and the Perryman Texas Letter, a synopsis of economic, social, and political events in and affecting the state. He also hosts a weekly syndicated radio commentary and has authored several books.

During his decades of experience, Perryman has collected a long list of accolades naming him the best and brightest in his industry. He has been honored by the U.S. Congress and the Texas Legislature, and he was even nominated for the 2005 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics.

Perryman was born in Lindale, near Tyler, and was the first person in his family to go to college. A National Merit Scholar and valedictorian of his high school class, Perryman chose Baylor, where he graduated with a math major and economics minor in 1974. He earned a PhD in economics from Rice University and then returned to Baylor to join the faculty of the Hankamer School of Business. His appointment at age twenty-seven to the Herman Brown Chair in Economics in the business school meant that he was the youngest holder of a major endowed research chair in the country.

While still on the Baylor faculty, Perryman started his company in the 1980s. He also taught economics at SMU, but eventually gave up the classroom to devote all his energy to his quickly growing business of economic forecasting.

Maintaining an academic perspective, Perryman stood out because of the innovative computer economic models that he developed. Perryman said that he has always loved economics because it requires problem-solving skills—something like solving a mystery. In fact, he once wrote an academic research article titled "Sherlock Holmes and Economics."

How apropos that Perryman himself turned into the Sherlock Holmes of economics. "That's what innovation comes down to—problem solving," he has said. "When I find an academic puzzle standing in the way of where I need to get, I try to solve that."—Meg Cullar

Gideon Waldrop
If you were ever on the hunt for a CD of Gideon Waldrop's concert music, about the only place you were going to find it was in a furniture store in Abilene. It's not that the music wasn't good—in fact, far from it. It's just that the famed composer, dean of the Julliard School, and president of the Manhattan School of Music liked the idea of stocking his brother’s store with a little of his own work.

"You may live in New York for forty years, but you never quite lose your roots," Waldrop said. "I still consider myself a Texan."

The Abilene native identified his parents as his earliest musical influences. "My father used to whistle, and this one tune he whistled became embedded in my mind at an early age," Waldrop once said, adding that the tune later became the basis for his famed musical suite "From the Southwest."

After earning a degree in music from Baylor in 1940, Waldrop served in the U.S. Air Force during World War II. He afterward returned to Waco, where he was an associate professor of music at Baylor and the conductor of the Baylor University-Waco Symphony Orchestra.

In 1951, he conducted the orchestra in the first performance of his own composition, Symphony No. 1. It was to be something of a Baylor swansong for Waldrop—the next year, he earned a PhD from the Eastman School of Music in New York, where he would live the remainder of his life.

In the 1950s, Waldrop was the editor of the Review of Recorded Music and the Musical Courier, and from 1961 to 1985 he served as dean of the famed Julliard School. During his tenure at Julliard, the school moved from its old facility to a new $30-million building at Lincoln Center. After retiring from Juilliard in 1985, Waldrop served as president of the Manhattan School of Music for three years.

During his career, Waldrop solidified his reputation as an international musical consultant. He worked with the governments of Germany and Portugal, and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir commissioned him to help create a cultural center in the new nation. Meanwhile, between his educational duties and his consulting jobs, Waldrop continued to work on his own compositions. In 1983, the Texas Chamber Orchestra premiered "Songs of the Southwest," a work that Waldrop had written especially for his longtime friend and fellow Baylor graduate, baritone Thomas Stewart. 

Waldrop died in 2000 at his home in Manhattan at the age of eighty.—Lisa Asher

David Rubenstein
If you look at the organizational chart of the U.S. Army's Medical Department (AMEDD), you’ll see a box at the top for the person occupying the dual offices of U.S. Army's Surgeon General and Commander of the U.S. Army Medical Command. Within that same box is the Deputy Surgeon General—a sort of right-hand man who helps advise military leaders and run a vast and vital operation that, with a $9.7 billion budget, cares for more than five million beneficiaries and includes hospitals in Europe and the United States.

Since 2007, Major General David Rubenstein, a product of the Army-Baylor Graduate Program in Health and Business Administration, has been serving as the U.S. Army's Deputy Surgeon General. He is also currently serving as chair of the American College of Healthcare Executives, an international professional society of more than thirty thousand healthcare executives.

Rubenstein's career in the military has been characterized by a series of increasingly complex assignments that have led him to the high positions he now occupies. A graduate of Texas A&M University and the Army War College, he earned a master of health administration (MHA) degree from Baylor in 1989 and added a master's degree in military art and science from the Army's Command and General Staff College.

Rubenstein began his military career in 1977 as a medical platoon leader in Aschaffenburg, Germany, and a string of successive assignments took him back and forth across the United States, from Tacoma, Washington, to Washington, D.C. Eventually, Rubenstein moved into the commander’s role. Before his most recent appointment, Rubenstein served as the commanding general of Europe Regional Medical Command, based in Germany, and command surgeon for the U.S. Army’s Europe and Seventh Army. His previous commands included the Thirtieth Medical Brigade; the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany; the Twenty-first Combat Support Hospital at Fort Hood, Texas; the Task Force Med Eagle in Bosnia and Herzegovina; and the Eighteenth Surgical Hospital at Fort Lewis, Washington.

In addition, Rubenstein has authored peer-reviewed professional articles, has two books on military medical history in progress, and has served as a book reviewer in such professional military journals as Military Review, Army, and Military Medicine.

The list of Rubenstein's honors runs as long as his service record. Most recently, he received the 2007 Outstanding Federal Healthcare Executive Award from the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States. Other awards and decorations include the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Legion of Merit, Army Meritorious Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, and Humanitarian Service Medal. He has twice been included in Modern Healthcare's list of the one hundred most influential people in healthcare.—Todd Copeland

Carole Cook
Carole Cook has had many different names—her given name was Mildred Frances, her Baylor nickname was Cookie, and her stage name became Carole when none other than Lucille Ball said she had the same "healthy disrespect for everything in general" as Carole Lombard. But whatever her moniker, Mrs. Mildred Frances "Cookie" Carole Cook Troupe has made a name for herself on television, in movies, and, especially, on stage.

The girl from Abilene found her love of acting at Baylor, where she studied under famed theater professor Paul Baker. "A great deal of our work is simply making ourselves dream," Cook said about the acting profession. "I cherish my years at Baylor and my training for the stage under the direction of Dr. Paul Baker, for that is where I learned 'to dream.'"

After earning a bachelor's degree from Baylor in 1945, Cook worked as a stage actress until, one night, a particular audience member noticed the brash performer and invited her to Hollywood. Cook's new fan was Lucille Ball, who opened numerous doors for the young actress. In addition to regular appearances on The Lucy Show and Here’s Lucy, Cook became the go-to guest actor, appearing on The Dean Martin Show, Chico & the Man, Charlie’s Angels, and numerous other shows.

Cook also enjoyed an active movie career, appearing opposite Don Knotts in The Incredible Mr. Limpet and Richard Gere in American Gigolo. And generations of teenagers know her as the grandma in Sixteen Candles.

But stage acting has remained Cook's first love. She took over for Carol Channing in the original production of Hello, Dolly!, and she starred in the original Broadway production of 42nd Street. She and her husband, stage actor Tom Troupe, are known as "the Lunts of L.A. Theater," and in 2002 they received a joint honorary Los Angeles Ovation Award for Career Achievements.

In addition to guest appearances on shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Cook remains active with her one-woman show, Dress Up, which has toured throughout the country, including appearances in Dallas. She and her husband live in Los Angeles, where she is involved in numerous AIDS organizations, including the annual Los Angeles S.T.A.G.E. benefit.—Lisa Asher

Mike Singletary
Today Mike Singletary is known as the head coach of the NFL's San Francisco 49ers. But for fans of the Bears—both Baylor and the NFL team in Chicago—Singletary's name immediately brings to mind helmet-cracking hits and unstoppable play at the middle linebacker position as he led one team to a SWC championship and another to a Super Bowl victory.

Coming to Baylor from Houston as an overlooked talent—"just a young ghetto boy," as he once described himself—Singletary played for Baylor from 1977 to 1980. He was a driving force behind Baylor's "We Believe" 1979 campaign, in which the Bears went 8-4 and ended the season by beating Clemson 24-18 in the Peach Bowl. Most importantly, he helped guide the Bears to a conference title in 1980, when the team went 8-0 in conference and 10-2 overall. A three-time All-American and a 1983 Baylor business school graduate, Singletary still holds Baylor records for most tackles in a career (662), most tackles in a season (232), and most tackles in a game (33).

After being drafted in the second round of the 1981 NFL draft, Singletary became a starter for Chicago in the seventh game of his rookie season. During his twelve-year career with Chicago, Singletary started 172 games—the second most in club history—and amassed 1,488 tackles, of which 885 were solo stops. He was named All-Pro eight times and was honored as the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1985 and 1988. In Super Bowl XX in 1986, the Bears defeated the New England Patriots by a score of 46-10, with Singletary making two fumble recoveries and helping the defense hold the Patriots to a record-low seven yards rushing.

In 1990 Singletary won the NFL Man of the Year Award, an honor based on the highest standards of play and community involvement. He was inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in 1996 and the NFL Hall of Fame in 1998.

After his retirement, Singletary established a career as a speaker and author, writing several books on leadership, family, and religion. Since 2003, Singletary has pursued a coaching career in the NFL. After starting with the Baltimore Ravens, he became assistant head coach of the San Francisco 49ers in 2005. When the 49ers fired their head coach during the 2008 season, Singletary was named interim head coach and led the struggling team to a 5-4 record to end the year. The "interim" tag was promptly removed, and Singletary and the 49ers agreed to a long-term contract.—Todd Copeland

Walter Umphrey
It's sort of ironic that Walter Umphrey became a larger-than-life legal legend by fighting for the little guy. A renowned plaintiff's attorney, Umphrey claims he's never sent a bill to a single client. "If a case is not worth taking on a contingent basis, then it's not worth taking," he told the Baylor Line in 2007. "A poor person ought to be able to hire a good lawyer."

Umphrey is best known for the historic legal victory when he led a team of attorneys that won a $17.3-billion settlement for Texas residents against the tobacco industry in 1998. Umphrey's firm and four others each put up $9 million of their own money and signed on to represent the state against the tobacco industry. "They had never paid anybody," he said. "My theory was that if history was going to be made, I wanted to be a part of it."

Umphrey won a $4-million verdict in his first federal suit in 1972. That year, he also began representing asbestos victims, and he has said that his firm has represented more than thirty thousand plaintiffs in such cases, including a class-action verdict of more than $1 billion.

Umphrey began his college career as a scholarship football player at SMU, but he transferred to Baylor, graduating in 1959. After several years as an insurance adjuster, working with lawyers, he decided he wanted to be one, so he returned to Baylor for law school and graduated in 1965. He started his career in the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office, becoming chief felony prosecutor, before switching to personal injury law.

Umphrey is now the senior managing partner of Provost and Umphrey Law Firm in Beaumont. He and the late David Provost borrowed money to start the firm in 1969 in their hometown of Port Arthur. They split in 1989, and Umphrey opened a new office in Beaumont. When Provost died, his widow allowed Umphrey to put his name back on the firm, which employs almost sixty lawyers.

Umphrey's legal accolades are numerous and include being named one of the top Texas lawyers of the twentieth century in Legal Legends: A Century of Texas Law and Lawyering. When it comes to his philanthropic activities, he is just as well known. He is on the board of the National Wildlife Association and the advisory council of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and he was vice chair of the Texas State Parks and Wildlife Commission. He sponsors thirty boys each year from the Beaumont Boys' Haven to go deer hunting on his land in South Texas. At Baylor, he has given numerous scholarships and gifts, but is best known for the $10 million he and his wife gave to help build the law school, named the Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center.—Meg Cullar


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