Marie Chiles, A.B.C. ’85

Merrie Beckham Alumna by Choice of the Year

Marie Chiles, A.B.C. ’85
Marie Chiles, A.B.C. ’85

Marie Chiles often jokes that when she married her husband it was a package deal – she got both John Chiles, B.B.A. ’50, J.D. ’52, and Baylor University. The two have now been married for nearly 70 years, and Chiles has been tightly woven into the life of the Baylor Family in that time.

Chiles met her husband at Royal Air Force Chelveston in England, where they were both stationed as First Lieutenants of the United States Air Force. Chiles hails from New York City, and she had never heard of John’s alma mater, Baylor University, before they met. 

She remembers that her earliest impressions of the school were deeply impacted by the people associated with it.

“It was a different place back then,” Chiles said. “It was not exactly the beautiful campus it is today, but of course John’s love of Baylor and the stories he told and the people I met made such a difference that I hardly remember.”

Now Chiles says it is hard to not fall in love with Baylor. 

The Chileses have been active donors across Baylor, and Marie, in particular, has been a very involved volunteer in every community she finds herself. 

“I have been a volunteer since 1960, and not having a family, I felt I had to contribute to the Earth because it could be a very selfish life to just do what you want,” Marie said of her engagement in her community. “I have found that no matter what you do when you’re thinking of others, it means so much more to you.”

The Chileses have made immense impacts throughout campus through their involvement in Baylor’s Old Main Society, the Endowed Scholarship Society and Baylor’s Medallion Fellowship. They have long been supporters of Baylor Law School, establishing two endowed scholarships and the Federalist Paper Lecture Series. They are also founders of the Strecker Associates, the original support organization for the Sue and Frank Mayborn Natural Science and Cultural History Museum Complex.

Marie and John moved to Dallas and soon found a new passion: the Louise Herrington School of Nursing. Marie was deeply impressed with the work of the nursing school, citing the school’s innovation and commitment to Christian education. 

“The students, the faculty, the staff, they are exceptional. You don’t become a nurse because it’s a good job. It’s because it’s a calling. It’s something they have to do,” Marie said. 

Marie, although she has no biological children, praised her “children” at the nursing school — two electronic simulation dummies that can imitate real medical scenarios for nursing education. Marie and John donated this state-of-the-art technology for the creation of the school’s clinical simulation lab. Marie’s simulation children are 5-month-old John Hauser and JJ, who is 5 years old.

“This has become so important to us that we feel that of all the volunteer work, of everything, anything we’ve been involved with, this has been the most rewarding,” Marie said of John Hauser and JJ.

The cheeky reference to the simulation dummies as her children hints at the true family Marie and John have become to the Louise Herrington School of Nursing. One expression of the love that the faculty, staff and students of the nursing school feel in return for Marie was planting a rose garden on the school’s grounds in honor of Marie’s 95th birthday. 

“When I think of families, we are so fortunate to have the Baylor Family.”