The Nacogdoches County Chamber of Commerce has named Dr. Janice Pattillo and Dr. Baker Pattillo as the 2011 Citizens of the Year. The Pattillos will be recognized at the Chamber’s 90th Annual Meeting and Membership Banquet presented by Andrews & Andrews Attorneys at Law, Tuesday, Sep. 27, 6 p.m. in the SFA Grand Ballroom.
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Janice and Baker Pattillo named Citizens of the Year 2011
by Archie P. McDonald
He wrestled a bear at his school's assembly.
She babysat children and worked with children in the church and that led her to want to become a teacher.
He lettered in high school football for three years, served his Tiger team at Arp High School as co-captain, earned appointment to all-district and all-East Texas teams—and classmates elected him “most likely to succeed.”
She served as president of Future Homemakers of America—and made sure the club selected him as its “beau.”
Both Baker and Janice have been honored for lifetime achievement by being named to the Arp High School Wall of Fame.
They can't remember when they met but know for certain that it occurred in Arp's Emanuel Baptist Church, where his pastor-father preached—active and emeritus—for 47 years. At the time of his retirement, the church named the sanctuary, where he had preached all those years, the Pattillo Education Center.
Janice and Baker Pattillo have been Nacogdoches and SFA bound nearly all their lives, and bound to the community and the school for the past 48 years.
Baker's involvement with SFA began when Dr. Ralph W. Steen delivered the commencement address at Arp High School in 1961, and the two developed a special bond soon afterward.
While Janice completed high school, Baker attended Tyler Junior College, then transferred to SFA in 1963 to study English and history, earning a bachelor's degree in 1965 and master’s in guidance and counseling in 1966. During summers he mowed yards and worked for a company that installed oil well tanks.
After graduation from high school, Janice followed Baker’s path to Tyler Junior College, then finished her degree at Baylor University. They married in 1966. She taught in the public schools in Tyler and also in Woden while Baker worked at SFA.
While still in graduate school, Baker spoke with Dr. Steen of his hope for future employment at SFA and Dr. Steen arranged for his appointment as assistant director of placement and financial aid. “We processed every application by hand in those days,” Baker said, “and I made $1.25 an hour—lots less than Janice earned as a teacher.”
When Baker enrolled in Texas A&M University's doctoral program in guidance and counseling, he spent four days each week in College Station and three days working in Nacogdoches at SFA. Dr. Steen let Baker write his dissertation in a room located on the third floor of the Austin Building—exactly the same room that is now Baker’s office as president of the University.
Janice and Baker Pattillo have been part of the Nacogdoches and SFA family for more than four decades.
Janice began teaching at SFA in 1969 and was the school's first kindergarten instructor. “I taught the children in the morning and college students in the afternoon,” she remembers.
Over the years Janice advanced to coordinator of early childhood education and then chair of the Department of Elementary Education. She retired in August after 42 years at SFA, and SFA's Board of Regents voted to name the Early Childhood Research Center in her honor.
Dr. Ralph W. Steen named Baker assistant director of placement and financial aid in 1966; he became director of placement and financial aid in 1970 and advanced to dean of student services in 1972. Dr. William R. Johnson named Baker vice president for student affairs in 1979 and later changed the title to vice president for university affairs. He became interim president of the university in July 2006. Regents removed the “interim” part of his title January 2007 and also affixed his name to the Baker Pattillo Student Center on April 24, 2007.
Janice and Baker are the proud parents of Paige Pattillo Brown, who never considered attending any university except SFA for her undergraduate degree. She earned a doctor of jurisprudence at the University of Texas School of Law and is the assistant county attorney for Nacogdoches County. Paige is married to Dr. Todd Brown, assistant professor of economics and finance in the Nelson Rusche College of Business.
Janice and Baker Pattillo and Paige and Todd Brown consider Susan Williams, who has worked as Special Assistant to President Baker Pattillo for 31 years, “a member of the family.” In fact Paige refers to Susan as her second mom.
The Pattillo family has included a succession of pet dachshunds, Heidi, Noel, and now Doches. Doches walks the campus quite often with Baker, wearing her purple Go Jacks vest.
Janice and Baker are a team that has been good for SFA and for Nacogdoches. Here are notable achievements: SFA's highest enrollment, fall semester of 2010; student center reconstructed and parking garages and new residence halls built; new facilities for instruction in nursing and early childhood development; and general improvement in campus appearance.
While Janice settles into a busy retirement, Baker promises to resume walking Doches on campus “when the weather cools off.”