Small Town USA Has Large LCU Impact
By Guest Writer, Rickey Harman, Ph.D.
Our guest writer, Dr. Rickey Harman served LCU as a math instructor and development officer. He also served as the superintendent of Lubbock Christian School many years. This story contains his reflections on and memories of the close association that his hometown of Happy, Texas, has had and continues to have with both Lubbock Christian University and Lubbock Christian Schools. Although the two educational entities operated as one during Dr. Harmon’s tenure, as of January 2009 the university and schools are now operating independently.
During the past 54 years, Lubbock Christian University has had support from almost every city and town in West Texas and Eastern New Mexico. Since 1957 this region has sent not only students to LCU, but also a number of board members and professors. Much of the financial support that has sustained the college, schools and university for over 50 years has come from loving Christians in small surrounding communities. Almost every community, large and small, in this region continues to have a large stake in the success of Lubbock Christian University.
The people of Lubbock have had the largest impact on LCU throughout the years. The original founders of the college, the trustees, lived in Lubbock. Financial support from many Lubbock businesses and individuals has been a "difference maker" during many years of the college’s existence. The largest number of students attending LCU over the years has come from the local Lubbock area. However, one small community 85 miles north of Lubbock has probably done as much or more to support LCU than any other community in the area. That small community is Happy, Texas – the "town without a frown." During the 1950’s and 1960’s the population of the city of Happy was 750, but when the rural area surrounding the area is counted, that number doubles. Happy, like most small towns isolated from major cities, has seen its population steadily decline over the past several decades.
That decline in population allowed LCC to secure an experienced publisher to run the college print shop from 1966 to 1978. Cecil Wesley had been owner and editor of the Happy Herald [the local newspaper] for many years, and he was one of the first to see the decline in Happy. Dr. Mattox convinced Cecil and his wife, June, to move to Lubbock and operate the LCC print shop. The print shop moved to three different locations on campus during Cecil's tenure, but he was able to provide almost every print need for the college during those years. The college was very fortunate to have such an experienced printer during these early years who could turn out professional materials working on a shoe-string budget. One of the Wesley’s' daughters, Billie Wesley Silvey who lives in Malibu, CA, continues in this heritage, writing numerous articles for Christian publications, including Bible school materials especially for women.
The Happy connection began back in 1957, with several families, including the Harmans, Nichols, and Moudys, coming to Lubbock not only for the ground-breaking of the college, but also for the dedication of the F.W. Mattox Administration Building a year later. Dr. F.W. Mattox had a talented cousin living in Happy – R. T. Moudy, Sr. As a farmer in an isolated rural area, Mr. Moudy was necessarily a jack-of-all-trades. His tools, talents and Ford tractor provided Happy, Texas with miles of ditches for sewer and waterlines. When Dr. Mattox made the request, Mr. Moudy took his rig to Lubbock and dug most of the early ditches for sewer and water lines in preparation for the transfer of Army barracks to get that first year of school underway in 1957.
In 1959, Happy sent its first student to LCC—Gary Don Bowe. Gary had been an outstanding athlete at Happy High School, and attended LCC on a track scholarship. He was one of the first Happyites to fall in love with the college. Upon completion of his Masters Degree at Texas Tech University in 1965, he returned to LCU to teach Physical Education until his retirement forty years later. He gained early fame as the boys' basketball coach at Lubbock Christian High School, where his teams successfully competed against area schools of any size. He received many awards during those years, including Outstanding Alumnus of LCU.
Another Happy resident who came to the college after establishing herself professionally in the field of education was Bula (Moudy) Anderson, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. R.T. Moudy. She originally taught in the Home Economics Department at Texas Tech University, but in the late 1960s became the Home Economics teacher at LCC and remained in that position until the mid 1970s.
Vernon and Mary Harman from Happy also had a major part in the development of LCC. Vernon was named to the Board of Trustees in 1959 and served for over thirty years. LCC recognized Vernon Harmon for his tenure of service and financial support by awarding him the Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree in 1988. Their son, Rickey, began teaching in the Mathematics Department at LCC in 1971. Rickey Harmon served twenty-five years in the Lubbock Christian family. He served the college for fifteen years in several different positions, including mathematics professor, registrar, and director of "The Share the Vision Campaign." He served another ten years as the superintendent of Lubbock Christian Schools.
Rickey's classmate at Happy was Eddie Moudy ('66), also a former LCC student. Eddie was hired by his alma mater in 1976 to teach in the Agriculture Department. In 1981, Eddie and his wife Beth moved to Earth, TX, where he engaged in several agriculture businesses. In 1997 he returned to LCU to teach agriculture until his retirement in 2011. He continues to teach part-time when needed.
Forrest Whitlow, another Happy native, and his wife Jolene moved to Lubbock in 1977 after Forrest retired from a career in the U.S. Air Force. One of Forrest’s duty assignments while in the U.S. Air Force was flying with the crack flying team, the Thunderbirds. Forrest grew up in Happy, and although his folks moved from Happy to Kress before the time he reached junior high, Happy still claims him as one of its own. After completing his BS degree at LCU, Forrest took over the management of the campus bookstore during the 1980s, then promoted to director of the Student Life Building. His wife, Jolene, spent approximately twenty years as an excellent fourth grade teacher at Lubbock Christian School.
The most recent LCU employee from Happy, Texas is Warren McNeill, who graduated 1982 and began work at the college in 1994. He currently serves as Assistant Vice President for University Relations, having served as Director of Alumni, Director of Development, and Director of Public Relations and Marketing. He is married to the Whitlows’ daughter, Denise ('82), who now manages the campus bookstore, The Chapstore. Warren and his five brothers have all attended LCC/LCU: Dave McNeill ('69), Dudley McNeill ('72), Jim McNeill ('75), Tim McNeill ('78), and Walter McNeill ('84).
Beginning with Gary Bowe who enrolled in 1959, it would be very difficult to find a year in which there was not at least one student from Happy enrolled at the LCC or LCU. The family with the most students attending LCU would be the R.T. Moudys. Of their 11 grandchildren, 10 of them attended LCC/LCU, and they have great-grandchildren who are LCU graduates.
Up until a few years ago, Lubbock Christian School was part of the college. The two educational entities officially separated in 2009, but continue to enjoy a beneficial working partnership. Several Happy High School graduates have been employed at LCS over the years. Rickey Harman has already been mentioned as serving as superintendent.
Janet (Moudy) Plaster’s dad, Alvin, was the secondary principal of the Happy public schools for many years, and Janet taught the fourth grade at LCS from the middle 1970s until the early 1980s.
Neil Bryan’s dad, Sam, served as superintendent for the Happy Independent School District for over thirty years, and Neil served as the principal of LCS from 1982-85.
Another Happyite who migrated to Lubbock to serve in Christian Education was Diane (Johnson) Qubty. She was a junior high coach and girls’ Bible teacher for several years in the 1990s, and her husband is a physician in Lubbock.
A couple of structures on the LCS campus are named after people from Happy. The multi-purpose building is named for Vernon & Mary and Rickey & Judy Harman. The basketball court in the new gymnasium on the LCS campus was recently named for long-time basketball coach, Gary Don Bowe.
Several preachers at the Church of Christ in Happy have had a close connection with LCS or LCU. The church in Happy kept growing and was ready for a resident preacher in the early 1950s. The church members helped build a nice brick house next to the church building. Charles and Sarah Cox were the first couple to live in the house as the full-time minister for the Happy Church of Christ. Charles and Sarah moved to Lubbock in the early 1960s to direct the newly formed Meistersinger Chorus as a complement the A Cappella Chorus directed by Wayne Hinds. Charles proceeded to teach music and direct this chorus for over thirty years. While Charles was busy at the college, Sarah taught all of the business courses at Lubbock Christian High School during this same time period.
Doug Lawyer was the minister at Happy in the late 1960s. He served as an administrator and Bible teacher at LCS for several years in the early 1960s.
Terry Looney graduated in LCC's Class of 1972, the first four-year class. Terry’s dad, Bill Looney, served as the minister at Happy in the 1970s.
Rick ('82) and Carolyn (Moudy) Bloodworth ('83) are now living in the preacher's house in Happy. Rick has been the minister for over ten years. He and Carolyn (who also grew up in Happy) are both graduates of LCU.
"The town without a frown" has been a great partner with both LCU and LCS from the beginning, and it is certain that this partnership will continue for many more years!