It's a Family Tradition

sepia composite of different alumni groups

The legacy that is Texas State runs through generations

By Catherine Duncan

Since opening its doors in 1903, Texas State University has undergone many changes. Enrollment stands at more than 37,000, there are more than 200 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs, two campuses have spread out and up, and there are more than 205,000 alumni who are part of the Bobcat family.

Amid all this change, a constant remains: Texas families whose futures were dramatically altered by that first relative who enrolled. Now multiple generations boast of following loved ones’ footsteps to earn one or more degrees.

These stories range from three family members in one generation changing the course of their lives to a tale of three generations and 11 family members who are all proud Bobcats. Woven in all are common threads of a valuable education, a place to call home, exceptional degrees, personalized attention, and an educational and professional foundation leading to successful, rewarding careers.

group of older people smiling

Wilma Smith becomes a teacher in 1941

Two daughters followed her success

The Smith family’s legacy at Texas State University began with Wilma M. Smith, a 100-year-old Bobcat, who earned her bachelor’s degree in home economics in 1941 and later completed a master’s degree in 1952. Smith taught homemaking in her hometown of Killeen. When she retired after 32 years, she was overseeing all home economics departments for Killeen ISD.

Daughters Betty Smith Luxton (B.S. ’65) and Peggy Smith Hilburn (B.A. ’73) followed in their mother’s footsteps to Texas State. Hilburn received her degree in history and earned a teaching certificate. She also began her teaching career in Killeen. After marrying her husband, Larry, a series of moves that took her from teaching positions in the Rio Grande Valley to New Hampshire and back again to San Marcos. In 2011, she retired from San Marcos CISD. with 38 years of teaching credit.

Luxton earned her degree in home economics, now known as family and consumer sciences. She met her husband, Jesse (B.B.A. ’66), in 1963 on a blind date. “We didn’t really care for each other at first.

In late 1965, we met again, and we just clicked. I had graduated and was working at Joske’s department store in downtown San Antonio. We were married in the Methodist church in San Marcos in 1966,” she says.

Luxton says her mother was one of 100 Gold Star 4-H girls in Texas who earned the opportunity to visit Texas A&M University for a competition. “She fell in love with college right then and there.” Smith wanted to be a teacher because she idolized her home economics teacher at Killeen High School.

Wilma Smith came from a poor family, and she picked cotton in the summer to pay tuition, Luxton says. She met her husband, Coopwood Smith, while attending Texas State. He lived in Lockhart and went to San Marcos to meet girls. After graduation from college, the couple eloped. “They kept their marriage a secret until Pearl Harbor. At that time, the men headed to war, and more women were needed to teach,” Luxton says.

The Luxtons have supported their beloved alma mater for more than 30 years. Following retirement from successful business careers, they moved to Leakey, where Jesse Luxton’s family has lived for more than a century. They have established scholarships for students at Leakey High School. They are Texas State Heroes, the highest honor bestowed on individuals who have given $1 million or more to the university; and are members of the Guardian Society, donors who have named the university in their estate plans.

In 2019, a plaque displaying Betty Luxton’s name was unveiled in the lobby of the School of Family and Consumer Sciences in recognition of her support. The couple established the Betty A. Luxton Graduate Research Assistant program, the Betty A. Luxton Undergraduate Work-Study Award, and the Betty A. Luxton Endowed Scholarship. The Luxtons have also established scholarships in the McCoy College of Business. Jesse Luxton is a Distinguished Alumnus and was recently honored with a suite named for him on the third floor of the Emmett and Miriam McCoy Hall.

“Texas State gave us all a great foundation for future success. My mother and sister dedicated their lives to teaching. They helped students every day in the classroom for many years,” Betty says. “My husband and I enjoyed successful careers. Jesse was a corporate CEO. I first worked in fashion merchandising. Then I was a home economist for a utility company. Later, I had a successful travel agency with a dear friend for 15 years.

“We know our experience and education at Texas State made all of this possible. We are proud to be Bobcats.”

Winn family tradition started 71 years ago

Four generations continue legacy

The tradition began with Raymond C. Miller who earned his B.S. in 1949 and his M.Ed. in 1952. Daughters LaVell Winn Walker Alumbaugh and Nellie Ruth Miller Wessels followed their father to Texas State.

Wessels earned her B.S. in 1952. Alumbaugh earned a B.S. in what is now known as family and consumer science in 1956 and was a Texas State instructor for five years. Her first husband, Vance Winn, earned his B.B.S. in 1959 and served as Alumni Center director.

LaVell and Vance’s children, Bradley V. Winn and Cara Winn Murray, graduated in 1995 with an M.B.A. and a B.S. in 1984, respectively.

Dr. Jeanette Moczygemba, who was married to Bradley Winn earned an M.Ed. degree in 1991. She recently retired as superintendent of Karnes City ISD. “The university was close and so convenient to Karnes City,” she says. “The professors were awesome, and I really enjoyed the camaraderie of the students. Texas State is one of the premier educational institutions in Texas.”

All three of her sons earned one or more degrees at their parents’ alma mater. Chris Winn earned his B.S. in psychology in 2010 and his master's degree in professional counseling in 2014. His wife, Crystal Frosch, earned a master's degree in professional counseling in 2014. 

Anthony Winn earned his B.A. in psychology in 2012, while his wife, Jill Wiatrek, earned her bachelor’s degree in education and is now pursuing a master’s degree.

Matthew Winn got both his bachelor’s degree (2015) and master’s degree (2017) in communication studies. It’s where he met his fiancée, Emma Carberry, who moved from Buffalo, New York, for her master’s degree in communication studies.

Matthew Winn, who works as a research coordinator for the College of Fine Arts and Communication, says he remembers going to Texas State to see his brothers when they were students and his grandmother who taught there. “I grew up in Karnes City, a small town, and I liked the feel of San Marcos. It had the feeling of a small town. I love the outdoors, and everything there is to do,” he says. “After looking at other universities, I heard great things about the communication studies program. I felt like it was a place I could grow. I didn’t want to go to a large university and get lost. I received a lot of personal attention on campus. It just felt right; it felt like home,” he says.

Moczygemba says she is very proud of the family’s legacy at Texas State. “I’m also proud to see how the university has grown since I went there in the late ’80s and early ’90s,” she says. “It makes me think about the first ring ceremony I attended for my eldest son, Chris. I realized how the star on the ring is really symbolic of Texas State’s place in the heart of Texas.”

The newest Bobcat in the family is Lindsay Murray, daughter of Cara Winn Murray, who will receive her degree from the College of Education later this year.

Image Gallery

large group of people smiling on campus
Ernestine Kapavik Sutherlin (third from left) was the first in her family to get a Texas State degree. Those who followed her include: ( from left) Tricia Pesek Kapavik, David Kapavik, [Ernestine], Robin Robinson Kapavik, Larry Kapavik, Amy Tomas Loehman, Reid Loehman, Jason Tomas, Lauren Strobel, Hope Kapavik, and Lori Kapavik Strobel.

First one on college path changes Kapavik legacy

10 family members continue Bobcat tradition

Growing up in the rural Texas community of Gonzales, Ernestine Kapavik Sutherlin was the first in her family to attend college. Even though she decided to pursue a college education — an unfamiliar concept to her family — Sutherlin recalls her loving parents supporting her decision.

“My high school journalism teacher believed in me and encouraged me to attend college and earn a degree,” she says. “I had no idea at that time my decision would create a family tradition and change our family’s path.”

Sutherlin says she decided to attend Texas State because it was about one hour from home, was affordable, and offered a degree in fashion merchandising. “Most importantly, Texas State became my home. I came from a large family of 10 siblings so I was looking for a place I could call home. That was very important to me,” she adds.

Sutherlin, who earned a bachelor’s degree in home economics with a concentration in fashion merchandising in 1984, says her parents and siblings would visit. “I was able to open the door and introduce them to Texas State. They saw what the university had to offer them.” Sutherlin worked in the fashion industry for Neiman Marcus. She also created the Ernestine Kapavik Endowed Scholarship in Fashion Merchandising.

Three siblings followed their older sister and graduated from Texas State. Since then, six nieces and nephews have continued the tradition.

Brother David Kapavik immediately followed Sutherlin and earned his Bachelor of Science degree with a major in agriculture business in 1986 and his M.B.A. in 1988. He is the president and CEO of SouthStar Bank. He met his wife, Tricia Pesek Kapavik, at Texas State, where she earned her B.B.A. in marketing in 1989. Their daughter, Hope, is a freshman now.

Sister Lori Kapavik Strobel earned her Bachelor of Science in respiratory care in 1997. Her daughter, Lauren Strobel, earned two bachelor’s degrees in psychology and family and consumer sciences in 2019.

Brother Larry Kapavik earned his Bachelor of Science with a major in agriculture business in 1992. In addition, his wife, Robin Robinson Kapavik, received her teaching certification at Texas State as a post-baccalaureate student in 1995.

Niece Amy Tomas Loehman was the first of the second generation to continue the legacy. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Texas State. Her siblings, Bridgette Tomas Burnett and Jason Tomas, earned their bachelor’s degrees. Another nephew, Bradley Fehner, earned his bachelor’s degree and continued the Kapavik family legacy at Texas State.

With 10 family members continuing the legacy, Larry Kapavik, who owns four businesses in New Braunfels, says he is proud the family has an enduring tradition at the university. “I’m proud to be a Bobcat. I look forward to seeing this legacy grow,” he says.

“I attended Texas State because it had an ag- business degree, and I could still go home to work for my dad’s farming business each weekend. I knew I wanted to own a business one day and having a degree would help me get there. I had the ambition, but I needed the knowledge to set up a company. The professors at Texas State helped prepare me to successfully run my businesses. I’m grateful for that foundation.”

three people smiling while sitting on couch
Eileen Bigley Pester, Carol Bigley, and Michael Bigley

Bigley family pursues mother’s dream

Three degrees, three varied careers

For the Bigley siblings in San Antonio, the world changed the day their beloved mother died. Roselyn Bigley was the glue that held the family together, and when she passed away, the family disintegrated.

Eileen Bigley Pester was 17, Michael Bigley was 15, and Carol Bigley was only 10 years old. While Eileen stayed with her maternal grandmother, Carol went to a foster home. Michael spent the rest of his high school years supporting himself and living on his own.

For most individuals in these difficult circumstances, the future would be bleak. Michael says Eileen's decision to attend Texas State University changed the course of all their lives. "Eileen was at the end of high school when Mom died. My mother always wanted us to go to college. Eileen decided to pursue Mom's dream," he says. 

With her younger siblings watching, Eileen earned her bachelor’s degree in family and consumer science in 1976. She worked as a clothing buyer for Dillard’s department stores, later marrying and staying home to raise her children. Eileen eventually received her teaching certificate and was a substitute teacher for many years before retiring.For most individuals in these difficult circumstances, the future would be bleak. Michael says Eileen’s decision to attend Texas State University changed the course of all their lives. “Eileen was at the end of high school when Mom died. My mother always wanted us to go to college. Eileen decided to pursue Mom’s dream,” he says.

Michael was a freshman at Churchill High School when his mom died. “I was on my own at that point. I got through high school, and then I was lost. I saw my big sister at Texas State and started thinking maybe that is something I could do, too. “Because it was my mom’s dream for me, I decided to enroll at Texas State. During my first year on campus, I lived in Jackson Hall while Eileen lived next door in College Hall for her senior year. It was wonderful living near her.”

Michael says he had a great experience at Texas State. “Right off the bat, I liked that it was a small community. It helped me learn how to network and be more personable. I was able to come out of my shell.” He joined Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and appreciated being part of a team. “I learned how to work and communicate with others. It was a learning experience that helped me later in the business world.”

Michael earned his B.B.A. in business management in 1979. Having a degree was the reason he got his first job as an insurance agent. Five years later, he opened his own company. Michael is founder and president of Excel Benefits Inc., a San Antonio based insurance agency. “School really propelled me to have a career. If I hadn’t gone to college, I don’t know what I would have done. Texas State prepared me to have a successful career.”

Carol says seeing Eileen and Michael pursue their college education meant everything to her. “Eileen was my best friend. I looked up to her as a mentor. Michael gave me further proof that it was something I could do. Eileen helped me figure out how to apply for school.”

The youngest Bigley says she also received encouragement to attend Texas State from her grandparents and her foster parents. Along with receiving financial assistance, Carol worked throughout most of college and joined Alpha Kappa Psi, a business fraternity.

In 1983, Carol earned her B.B.A. in computer information systems. She says lifelong friendships were formed during her freshman year. She met a fellow graduate from Samuel Clemens High School in Schertz, and along with three other students, they would live together for the next three years. The five women are still close friends and regularly travel together.

Carol shares her brother’s appreciation for the university. “Who knows what would have happened to me if I hadn’t followed them? Having my CIS degree opened up all kinds of opportunities.” Her first job out of college was as a programmer for the Gary Job Corps Center in San Marcos. She moved to Austin and worked in the business and computer industries for 25 years. Since 2013, she has found success in the insurance industry.

“I’m fortunate I was able to get a great degree and have a wonderful experience in college. Texas State taught me how to communicate and work with others. The university gave me the foundation needed to be successful in the business world,” Carol says.

With three Texas State degrees and three varied but fulfilling careers, the Bigley children fulfilled their mothers’ dream — a true legacy to her memory.

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Patrick W. Price

Family business meets education legacy

From farming to real estate for the Prices

For the education- and business-minded Price family, attending Texas State University helped them work at family businesses while earning degrees that prepared them for successful, varied careers. Patrick W. Price lived on the family farm in Kyle and worked for his father, H.Y. Price Jr., who owned the San Marcos Telephone Company. While interested in many subjects, Patrick Price was drawn to education courses at Texas State. “There were excellent professors in English and in education.

Dr. W.C. Newberry was a very dynamic education teacher. I learned techniques from him to get students interested and involved,” he says.

Price earned his Bachelor of Science degree in education in 1968 and taught history and social sciences for four years in San Marcos. In 1972, he returned to the family business.  Four years later his father retired, and Price became company president. At the age of 38, his life took a different course when a brain aneurysm ruptured. He would spend a year recovering.

“My former principal asked me if I would like to return part time as a substitute teacher,” he says. “It was just what I needed. I was still a good teacher and a good storyteller. The students really accepted me back, and they nicknamed me Mr. Sunshine.”

By 1983, Price had started his own real estate and leasing company. He designed and developed Papillon Villa on what is now University Drive and has owned multiple properties along the street. At age 76, he is now retired from his real estate business.

Price was thrilled when his sons, Kevan Price (B.S. ’92) and Steven Price (B.B.A. ’92), earned degrees in sociology and marketing, respectively. Their mother, Sheran Price, earned her Bachelor of Applied Arts in 1969.

The Texas State tradition continues. Kelly Peek- Price, Kevan’s wife, earned her B.S. in biology in 1993, while Cynthia Price, who is married to Steven, earned a bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising in 1989.

Steven and Cynthia’s sons continue the legacy. Steven Price Jr. earned his B.B.A. in accounting in 2019 and is doing his internship with Ernst & Young in Houston. He has been accepted into graduate school at Texas State. Sean Price is currently pursuing his B.B.A. in accounting.

“My grandmother, Riso Millhollon, earned her bachelor’s degree in 1939 and her master’s degree in 1955 from Texas State. She taught kindergarten in Kyle and was a big influence on me. She was the best grandmother you could have,” Steven Price says. “My dad also was big into education, so I understood its importance.”

Steven Price says he started a business when he began college, so attending Texas State allowed him to continue his venture. “I also had heard the business school was excellent. The accounting, finance, marketing, and business communications courses have really proven to be beneficial. They gave me a foundation to work with,” he says.

Since graduation, Steven Price has owned several different businesses and was in the oil and gas industry for 20 years. He is now a realtor with Keller Williams. “Texas State means a lot to our family, “he says. “I still have a lot of friends who I met at the university. I met my wife — so that is awesome. We are proud our sons decided to go to Texas State so they can share such a great experience.”

family smiling holding championship banner
Bobcats Shane and Carol Moore with their daughter, Renny, who plays soccer for Texas State.

Business majors find each other and success

Student-athlete makes goal as Bobcat

During his first year at Texas State, Shane Moore met Carol Yarrington, who was in her third year. The young Bobcats married after completing their degrees. Carol earned her B.B.A. in accounting in 1989 and Shane earned his B.B.A. in finance in 1992. At the time, they had no idea life — in the form of their daughter — would bring them back to Texas State.

Shane says he originally chose Texas State because he grew up in Austin, it was close to home, and he could continue working through college. “I enjoyed my time on campus, especially meeting Carol,” he says. “I had some great professors. I took intermediate finance. It was probably the toughest class I ever took. But I did well, and I decided to stay in finance.”

After graduating, he worked at investment firms and private banks. Shane created his own firm, Quartz Financial, an Austin-based wealth management firm that handles the financial affairs of families. He is a managing partner, and Carol serves as a private client services associate. Shane is also founding partner of   the Sudden Wealth Center, and he has co-authored four books on the topic.

The Moore family has twins, Quinlan and Renny. While they encouraged both children to look at a variety of universities, they were thrilled when Renny, an outstanding high school soccer player, decided to play collegiate soccer at their alma mater.

Renny, a junior working toward her B.B.A. in accounting, is a midfielder on the Bobcat soccer team. She initially looked at out-of-state schools, but an invitation to visit Texas State and meet the team changed her mind. “I met the coach and the players. I really love the team; we are so competitive but support each other like family,” Renny says. “I like that the university was close to my home so I can still see my family, especially my dogs. I really like the business college here. I knew it was the perfect degree for me.”

Renny acknowledges that a Division I athlete’s schedule is grueling with long days and out-of-town games, practices, conditioning, and academics. “I couldn’t ask for a better experience,” she says. “We have a very smart team with a high GPA. We make each other study more. You see others studying, and you know you should be doing so.”

Shane says he and Carol are very proud of Renny, and they enjoy traveling to see her and her teammates play around the country. “I didn’t think it would be that special to have your child decide to attend your school. Now, I know how much it means to a parent. We are proud to have a legacy here.”