Baylor Alumna Honoris Causas Passes Away

  • News Photo 4894
    Judge Joe and Gene Aubrey Briscoe
  • News Photo 4891
    Judge Joe and Gene Aubrey Briscoe of Devine, Texas, were honored with the Founders Day Medal, the most distinguished award given by Baylor, in 2002.
June 4, 2010

The Baylor community is saddened by the death of a faithful friend, Gene Aubrey Hargis Briscoe, who passed away May 31 in San Antonio at the age of 92.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Judge Joe Briscoe. Although neither attended Baylor University, the couple took great interest in the university and gave generously of their time and resources, touching the lives of many students.

Mrs. Briscoe attended San Antonio Junior College and graduated from the University of San Antonio, now Trinity University. Judge and Mrs. Briscoe married Nov. 25, 1941, and a few years later settled in Devine, Texas. The family came on hard times in 1949, when a polio outbreak struck Mrs. Briscoe and claimed the life of her young son, Bailey, as well as her brother and twin sister.

Demonstrating great resolve, Mrs. Briscoe continued to live her life with purpose, actively volunteering in her community and church and raising two daughters who attended Baylor University: Dr. Harriet Briscoe Harral, who earned her bachelor's degree in 1966 and master's degree in 1967, and Joanne Briscoe Jones, who received her bachelor's degree in 1970.

The Briscoes soon adopted Baylor as their own and identified strongly with the university's values and commitment to Christian higher education. In 1975, they established an endowed scholarship fund, which has provided financial assistance to hundreds of undergraduate students. And later, they established another scholarship fund for graduate students at Baylor Law School. The Briscoes gained familiarity at Baylor with their unique Briscoe "fireside chats," an annual gathering where they hosted their scholarship recipients, discussed life, faith and academics and ended the meeting by lining up students and giving each of them a crisp $20 bill.

"Mrs. Briscoe was truly a special part of the Baylor family," said Bill Dube, director of the Endowed Scholarship Program at Baylor. "The relationships that she and her husband maintained with their scholarship recipients demonstrated a rare commitment and passion for students. She will be greatly missed, but I have no doubt that her legacy will live on in the memories and lives of those students, just as it does for those of us at Baylor."

Furthering their notable investments in Baylor students, Mrs. Briscoe and her husband supported the Law Day Awards, the division of Student Life, George W. Truett Theological Seminary and the Bear Foundation. Judge Briscoe also served as a Baylor University trustee and charter regent from 1974-83 and 1985-94.

In 2002, the Briscoes were honored with the Founders Medal, one of Baylor's most prestigious awards, identifying those whose service and contributions have been significant to the university's growth and prosperity. Mrs. Briscoe also achieved the distinction of Alumna Honoris Causa, which is the highest award given by the university to individuals who did not graduate from Baylor University. Additionally, the Briscoes' commitment to Baylor and generous philanthropy was recognized with their membership in the Medallion Fellowship (James Huckins and Pat Neff Medallions), the Endowed Scholarship Society and the Old Main Society.

Known for her gracious hospitality, Mrs. Briscoe found numerous other causes to serve. A Sunday school teacher for many years, a founding member of the Devine Garden Club and the Current Events Club, the past president of the Parent Teachers Association and two-time Devine "Woman of the Year," she will be remembered for her unparalleled dedication to the community she loved.

Mrs. Briscoe is survived by her two daughters and their husbands, Paul Harral and Ben Jones; four grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

Memorials in honor of Gene Briscoe may be made to the First Baptist Church of Devine or to the Judge and Mrs. Joe E. Briscoe Scholarship Fund or the Judge and Mrs. Joe E. Briscoe Law School Scholarship Fund at Baylor University.

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