Donors honored at 32nd SFA Gala

NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin State University honored prominent donors who have supported the school and the surrounding community during the 32nd annual SFA Gala held Saturday in the Baker Pattillo Student Center Grand Ballroom.

This year’s honorees, inducted into the university’s three highest tiers of giving, were David and Charlotte Sanderson, Sammie and Beverly Smith, Paul and Dixie Kellerhals, Hank and Suzy Crouse, and the Micky Elliott Family Foundation. 

The event included a three-course meal with red and white wine, live music and remarks from Dr. Steve Westbrook, interim president of SFA, and Jill Still, vice president for university advancement and executive director of the SFASU Foundation.

“Our donors help SFA provide a quality education for students and are a big reason why the university continues to be an important and impactful member of the greater East Texas region,” Still said. “Those who give to our colleges and programs, from athletics to academics, are essential members of our community. We are pleased to recognize their generosity.”

Fredonia Society Inductees

David and Charlotte Sanderson

Dr. David Sanderson established a thriving orthopedic surgery practice in 1979, and Charlotte served as his longtime business manager. While Charlotte managed the practice and raised three children, David served SFA’s student-athletes on the field and courtside, both home and away, for 31 years. During that time, he worked with seven different football coaches but only one trainer — Sandy Miller.

The Sandersons estimate that David stood on the sidelines at Homer Bryce Stadium for 250 games and courtside in Johnson Coliseum for 600 or more while also caring for all SFA’s student-athletes.

Early on, the Sandersons decided to match their financial giving to athletics with support for the College of Sciences and Mathematics. Additionally, they support SFA’s fine arts and gardens programs and have hosted and mentored many students throughout the years. The Sandersons believe the university defines Nacogdoches and has enriched the quality of life in the town they’ve called home for 43 years.

Sammie and Beverly Smith

Dr. Sammie Smith is a renowned former chair of the Schlief School of Accountancy and faculty member for 26 years at SFA.

He was named the Temple-Inland Employees Distinguished Professor of Accounting and received the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants’ Outstanding Accounting Educator of the Year award. Sammie’s been honored with three teaching excellence awards — one in 2003 from SFA’s Rusche College of Business and two from the international accounting honor society, Beta Alpha Psi. He earned the prestigious title of regents professor in 2004 before retiring two years later.

Beverly is not only an alumna but also served SFA for 18 years working in multiple university offices. She retired in 2021. The Smiths have established four endowed funds for faculty and student support.

Paul and Dixie Kellerhals

Paul and the late Dixie Kellerhals have been supporters of SFA for many years. Dixie graduated from SFA, first in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and then the next year with a master’s degree in special education. She went on to serve as an educational diagnostician for 11 years before retiring.

Paul spent his early years in the U.S. Army, serving tours in Germany, South Vietnam and South Korea before becoming an SFA professor of military science from 1982 to 1986. In civilian life, Paul worked as a head coach for both high school football and basketball, an elementary school principal, and director of teacher education at the University of Central Texas.

He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Northern Iowa, a second master’s degree from the University of Central Texas, and a doctoral degree from Auburn University. The Kellerhals endowed the Dixie and Paul Kellerhals Scholarship, which supports students enrolled in the James I. Perkins College of Education.

Thomas J. Rusk Society Inductees

Hank and Suzy Crouse

Hank and Suzy Crouse are longtime Nacogdoches residents. They came here in 1977 looking to manage a family business and start a family of their own. Eventually, they came to own Burns, Morris and Stewart, a manufacturing company specializing in exterior door frames.

They have always had an appreciation for higher education and in more recent years became avid Lumberjack basketball fans. They attend practice, games, host athletic-related events in their home, and share life lessons, love and support with student-athletes, coaches and their families.

Hank and Suzy consider the coaches and student-athletes their family and desire to help students experience success on and off the court. To honor their generosity in both financial resources and service, the university Board of Regents named the Hank and Suzy Crouse Weight Room within the Naymola Basketball Performance Center after them in 2020.

Stephen F. Austin Society Inductee

The Micky Elliott Family Foundation

The Micky Elliott Family Foundation was established in 2017 with a gift from Elliott Electric Supply Inc., which was founded and is owned by Bill Elliott. The foundation was named in memory of Bill’s wife of 41 years, Micky, who passed away in 2001.

The mission of the Micky Elliott Family Foundation is to provide opportunities to make Nacogdoches, SFA and the East Texas area better through their financial support.

Bill and Micky moved to Nacogdoches in 1972. Micky’s commitment of their savings and her unwavering support allowed Elliott Electric Supply to grow in the last 50 years from a startup with $20,000 to what today is a company worth $2 billion that employs 2,600 employees in 10 states. Micky loved the arts, gardens and people of Nacogdoches and believed it a privilege to live in Texas’ oldest town.