Don Buchholz and Ruth Vernon met on a blind date and later married in 1958. As they celebrate their 59th wedding anniversary, their dedication to one another is nothing short of beautiful. Throughout their lives, they also have been dedicated to supporting the education of young people.
They are recognized as Baylor Founders for their generosity and commitment to Baylor and have forever impacted the University and changed the lives of many Baylor students. Don and Ruth are proponents of Christian education and have given to areas across the University. The, couple has given generously to Baylor’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing (LHSON), the Hankamer School of Business (HSB) and the McLane Student Life Center.
Born in LaPorte, Texas, and raised in Garland, Texas, Don Buchholz is a retired stock brokerage executive who rose to the top of his profession. He served as a governor of the New York Stock Exchange and is a prominent figure in the securities and banking industry.
Upon graduating from the University of North Texas (UNT) in 1952, Don worked in accounting roles for several different companies. In 1960, he became comptroller of Park-Ford Inc. before becoming vice president/CEO of Weber, Hall, Cobb & Caudle in 1963.
Nine years later, he co-founded Southwest Securities Group Inc. (it sold in 2010). Over the years, Don served as president, CEO and chairman of the board of the company, which was the namesake of HSB’s flagship classroom in the original Cashion Academic Center: the Southwest Securities Financial Markets Center. The Center helped launch the innovative student-run portfolio practicum. A Baylor Alumnus by Choice, Don also served on Hankamer’s Board of Advisors.
He received an honorary doctorate in 2015 from UNT, where he served as a regent.
“I take much joy in providing scholarship funds for young people; one reason is because there was no one doing that for me.”
“I take much joy in providing scholarship funds for young people; one reason is because there was no one who was doing that for me,” Don says.
A U.S. Air Force veteran, Don finds much joy giving to help young people and has volunteered his time at three different levels of education. He has served as a board member and/or president at Garland Independent School District and Dallas County Community College District (20 years) in addition to his service at UNT.
“Don has always cared deeply about education, and also about North Texas, where he graduated,” Ruth says. “We enjoy reading those letters from Baylor scholarship recipients, and I urge everybody to make a gift, and make a change in a student’s life.”
Don says, “Compared to the money a student makes over a lifetime, giving to scholarships is such a good investment, for a relatively small amount of money.”
Originally from Vernon, Texas, Ruth, BA ’49, attended Baylor largely because of her Baptist roots. Her mother also attended Baylor.
“Our preacher, Dr. E.S. James, took us down to Baylor. His daughter was one of my best friends,” Ruth says.
Ruth was a Baylor student at the end of World War II. In 1947, enrollment swelled to 4,506 (a record at the time).
“I was in all sorts of activities and had a good time at Baylor,” Ruth says. “I changed my major frequently. I ended with English and education after starting out as premed, since my grandfather was a doctor. I was a reporter for the Baylor Lariat and worked on the yearbook.”
Ruth also did graduate work at Southern Methodist University, Texas Christian University and the University of Colorado.
She taught in Fort Worth Independent School District and was a secretary for the U.S. Department of State, Foreign Service in Germany from 1951 to 1953. She also was an executive secretary for several Dallas companies.
Ruth has been active with the Baylor University Dallas Women’s Council since its inception when she was on the original board.
“Carolyn Fanning was nice enough to be the first president. We gave two scholarships, I think, the first year, and I had to raise the money for that,” Ruth says. “The Dallas Women’s Council has been a strong supporter for Baylor. It has grown and grown and grown. I was honored when they gave me the Woman of the Year award a few years ago.”
On top of serving in more than 75 roles in community service organizations over the years, from PTAs to the City of Garland to the Baylor Healthcare System Foundation Advisory Board, Ruth has been a champion for the Louise Herrington School of Nursing. The Buchholzes stepped in to provide funding for the LHSON SIM-Man simulator at a critical point of growth in the program.
“The Nursing School up here in Dallas was the best-kept secret at Baylor, so I got involved with some friends and helped raise a little bit of money for a sim lab,” Ruth says. “Now they’ve got their new building in progress. We need nurses. Everybody says it. There’s a real need for nurses, and the more we can further the scholarships for those students is good.”
The Buchholzes are members of the University’s Endowed Scholarship Society, Old Main Society and 1845 Society. They have received Baylor’s Huckins Medallion and The Herbert Reynolds Service Award.
They have two children, Robert Buchholz and Chrystine Roberts, BA ’90, and five grandchildren.
“Baylor was tremendously better when my daughter attended than when I was there, and I think it’s continued to get better and better through the years. Its influences have increased, too,” Ruth says.
Reflecting upon their lives, Don and Ruth are grateful for the chances they have had to give back.
“Considering everything, we have been very lucky,” Ruth says. “The Lord has really shown us the way to try to help others, too.”