Johnny and Wilma Jones Receive Founders Medal

Feb. 5, 2001

On Jan. 31, Johnny and Wilma Jones of Austin received the Founders Medal which is given to those whose service and contributions to Baylor have been significant to its growth and prosperity. The couple also were guests of honor at a Founders Day luncheon following Chapel.

Johnny Jones was born in Hubbard and attended Baylor as a part¡time student from 1935 to 1941. In 1941 he married Wilma Richter, who graduated from Baylor in 1940. Jones served in the U.S. Army during World War II, then moved to Austin after the war. He founded his own printing business, The Whitley Co., in 1950 and remains active on its board of directors.

For more than 50 years, the Joneses have been active members of First Baptist Church of Austin, where Jones has served as chair of the board of deacons and Wilma Jones taught Sunday School. For many years, the Joneses have served on the Baylor Development Council. Although he never graduated from Baylor, in 1992 Jones was designated a Baylor Alumnus Honoris Causa for his devotion to the university.

The Founders Medal was established in September 1969 and is one of the most distinguished awards given by Baylor University. This award is reserved for men and women whose service and contributions have been unusually significant to the life and future of the university. One copy of the medal is on permanent exhibition in the National Numismatic Collection, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

The face of the medal bears the likeness of Judge R.E.B. Baylor, with the inscription "Pro Ecclesia Pro Texana." The obverse bears the likeness of Pat Neff Hall with the inscription "Baylor University Founders Medal," plus the name of the recipient and year of presentation.

Past recipients of the Founders Medal include Abner V. McCall, J. Harry and Anna Elizabeth Sturgis Jeanes, Bob Bullock and Dorothy B. Kronzer.

In 1841, 35 delegates to the Union Baptist Association meeting accepted the suggestion of Reverend William Milton Tryon and District Judge R.E.B. Baylor to establish a Baptist university in Texas. The Texas Baptist Education Society then petitioned the Congress of the Republic of Texas to charter a Baptist university in the fall of 1844. Republic President Anson Jones signed the Act of Congress on Feb. 1, 1845, officially establishing Baylor University. Reverend James Huckins, the first Baptist missionary to Texas, was Baylor's first full¡time fund¡raiser and the third founding father of the university. Although these three men are credited as being the founders of Baylor University, there are many others who worked to see the first university established in Texas.

The university community annually celebrates the founding of Baylor University on the anniversary of its charter. In 1995, Baylor celebrated its sesquicentennial anniversary, and today it is 156 years old.

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