SFA celebrates its 90th birthday

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Stephen F. Austin State University's past, present and future are the highlight of a significant university milestone.  Multiple generations were honored during today's 90th anniversary celebration.

There's no mistake about it. SFA is proud to celebrate its 90th anniversary.

Traditions build memories. They're fading for Era Elizabeth Billingsley who turns 106 next month. However, a nephew's reminder brought spark to her eyes.

"You remember the dogwood blooming in the spring? Did you like those?" David Billingsley, Era's nephew asked.

"Oh, yeah," Era said.

The oldest SFA Alumni Association lifetime member graduated in 1930, followed by a 40-year teaching career. It's impossible to gauge the lives she and other SFA graduates have influenced.

"So I think it is very important today to stop and reflect upon our past, but also realize that we are totally dedicated and committed to our future," said Dr. Baker Patillo, SFA's president.

Students currently going to SFA have a similar dedication, vowing to contribute 90,000 hours of community service in the coming year.

"It is staggering to think how much good can come from so much service," said Marquice Hobbs, the president of the Student Government Association.

Dedication secures a university's future. State leaders representing East Texas know it's their job to protect the 90-year old institution.

"There's one issue which I will not yield," said State Rep. Travis Clardy. And that is the independence of Stephen F. Austin State University."

It helps Guarantee SFA, as it's known today, will be around for Jackson Baker Brown, the grandson of SFA president Dr. Baker Patillo. Parents and grandparents saw that Jackson became a lifetime Alumni Association member the day he was born, 90 days ago today.

"Oh, purple is the only color he recognizes," Patillo said.

The traditions continue, right down to the cake and purple ice cream served at so many SFA functions. It's the Lumberjack spirit creating bonds between so many generations.

The university's 90th anniversary will be celebrated throughout the coming academic year, and planning is under way for a variety of special events and activities.

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