Friday, October 24, 2014

Elvis is in the Building, Thanks to Special Gift for Texas A&M’s Libraries

Texas A&M is fortunate to have philanthropists who generously support the university. Close to my heart and to those of many who love A&M are the TAMU Libraries. The name Mrs. Sara Lindsey, of Houston, is well known to many Aggies for her donations to arts, humanities and the libraries. Her latest gift to Texas A&M is her priceless collection of Elvis Presley memorabilia; it's free to the public to see.

Cushing Library, Texas A&M donors, John and Sara Lindsey, and samples of Mrs. Lindsey's donation of her Elvis memorabilia.

Elvis Aron Presley is one of the most influential and original entertainers to shape the world of music. Countless numbers of young men picked up a guitar and decided on a music career as a result of Elvis, aka The King. Thanks to the generosity of Mrs. Sara Lindsey of Houston, Texas, Aggies and visitors to Texas A&M’s Cushing Library now get first look at her personal Elvis Collection. Michael Jackson, Curator of the Collection, was kind enough to share some preview photos on Oct. 23, 2014, especially for readers. The collection, known as “The King: Celebrating the Sara H. Lindsey Collection of Elvis Memorabilia” is on the second floor of the Cushing, and the exhibit runs through Dec. 12.

Part of what you’ll see here are memorable photos of Elvis the soldier, as he entered the U.S. Army and served his country as well as becoming a member of the U.S. Army Reserve. Although a tour of military duty could have crushed his then-budding career, Elvis was raised as a boy from Tupelo, Mississippi, to serve his country, same as members of the fightin’ Texas Aggie Corps of Cadets. Mrs. Lindsey is a lifetime fan of Elvis, and she began her collection early, beginning with the types of things we all save from concerts, ticket stubs, buttons, photos, and the like. As soon as Mrs. Lindsey’s friends knew of her collection, they added to it with gifts to her over the years as well, to her great delight.

There’s a standout “Volcano Ring,” that Elvis wore at his 1973 concert “Aloha from Hawaii.” As curator Michael Jackson shared, “it’s the ring that was commissioned as a gift for Elvis by his wife Priscilla.” Clearly these are one-of-a-kind finds for Aggies to enjoy seeing. There are some fun and versatile Elvis collectibles, including a photo of Mrs. Lindsey with an Elvis impersonator, who was hired as a delightful diversion to celebrate her 40th wedding anniversary to her husband, John. Had he known of this, the real Elvis would have been proud.

The Cushing Library is easy to find, set in the heart of the Aggie campus in College Station, just a pebble’s throw away from the historic Academic Building. It’s a favorite location, at one end of the Sterling C. Evans Library complex. Just looking at the top of the building, the names of scientists, scholars, and statesmen engraved in stone in a banner that goes all around the building previews that you’re about to enter a place where collections of educational materials have been amassed over the years, lovingly and wisely preserved for the public to experience.

The Cushing Library is open weekdays to the public; best news of all, it’s free! Convenient parking is available at reasonable rates in the parking garage closest to Rudder Tower. Don’t miss the opportunity to check this out when you’re on campus, and preview some of the items in the accompanying slide show.

The generosity of Sara Lindsey and her husband John H. Lindsey ’44, to Texas A&M University is legendary, despite her best attempts to maintain a low profile in her giving. But that’s really part of the Aggie way; former students and those who love the university give freely, willingly and without much fanfare, because the education of future generations are what is most important to them.

The generation of those who were early givers to the Texas A&M Libraries include first, the late, great Aggie, Sterling C. Evans’23. Some thirty-five years ago, in 1979, at the invitation of Dr. Irene Hoadley, then Director of TAMU Libraries, an undergraduate and graduate student were among the dais invited to offer remarks upon the occasion of the dedication of Sterling C. Evans expansion.

Present that day were Mr. Evans, whose unbounded love for the library and generosity in giving led the way. Mr. Evans had an endearing way of addressing anyone he met as “young lady” or “young man,” even if they were in their 50s and 60s; it was charming and ever as much a throwback to the gracious gentleman he was. The Aggie legend was inspirational to all around him, especially when it came to philanthropy.

Subsequent Library Development would move forward with the creation of a formal Library Development Council including Mr. Evans, the late Irma and Bill Runyon ‘35, who supported both the Evans library, as well as giving the art collection for which the Forsyth Galleries were established in 1989. Bill and Irma would attend council meetings, having driven in from Dallas in a classic Rolls Royce, the young man who’d grown up to be a great success in business. He loved attending art auctions because he said, “he was shopping for A&M,” and he meant it.

One of the leaders of the development council was the Rev. Dr. Leonora Ryan Montgomery, widow of the late Aggie Jeff Montgomery, ’41, of Houston, who been distinguished in petroleum engineering and to Texas A&M, serving as Chair of the Association of Former Students in 1968. Upon Jeff’s passing, Leonora continued oversight of and devotion to Jeff’s philanthropic interests for A&M, of which the library was part. Present also that day were John H. and Sara Lindsey, as the couple shared a special devotion to the library as the key to learning. The John H. Lindsey Building on the TAMU campus is, of course, home to the Texas A&M Press. The Lindsey gifts over the years to A&M have benefited arts, humanities, and particularly the libraries.

Such philanthropy didn’t happen overnight, and it most certainly did not occur as a result of a proposal placed before the donors that awakened them to a need to give. Rather, it is the true heart and soul of the Aggie acculturation for giving back that was born almost as early as the university was born. The need to give back, the desire to show appreciation for those who came before, to honor those faculty and staff who gave sacrificially at low salaries compared to private business, to teach Aggies is just the Aggie way and it can’t be properly quantified in words as it’s a 12th Man spirit of giving.

The professors who rented out garage apartments at rock-bottom prices to (then) young men coming from farms to study agriculture and mechanical engineering at A&M and go home to make their marks on the world were the first donors. Following that example were Aggie former students who, just a few years out in the world, would give back their own senior boots or the funds for someone else in future classes to afford their senior boots. That spirit is as strong today as current TAMU Corps of Cadets Commandant, Brig. Gen. Joe E. Ramirez spotted the recent quick thinking of E-2 Cadet Ryan Kreider, who saved Miss Reveille from being run into by an SMU receiver, and he announced he was buying Cadet Kreider’s senior boots when that day came.

Elvis Presley was personally noted for his vast philanthropic gifts, some to complete strangers, simply for the joy of giving. Many things he’d do to help were never known publicly, because he just enjoyed the sheer joy of giving anonymously. This is exactly the same spirit of philanthropy with which Mrs. Lindsey has been giving to the TAMU Libraries over the years. Her beloved collection of precious Elvis memorabilia is her most recent and definitely one of her most thoughtful gifts. Aggies everywhere will appreciate this for years to come. If asked, they’d surely say something like: “Thank you, thank you very much.” Elvis is “in” the house, and the Cushing Library is the place to check it out.

[Note: Full story previously on AXS.Com at:]

No comments:

Post a Comment