First Family of Baylor Award Presented to the Tidwell Family

News Photo 4323
(Left to right) - Row 1: Geneva Oakes; Row 2: Leland Oakes, Julie Oakes, Amy Bentzen Smith, K.K Tidwell III, Sue Jones Tidwell, K.K. Tidwell Jr.; Row 3: Christina Oakes McKay, Craig Smith, Ruthie Forkel, Bridget Tidwell Binning, Jan Tidwell Smith; and Row 4: Keith Bentzen, Kaye Forkel Bentzen, Brenda Kimbrough Tidwell.
Sept. 25, 2007

by Judy Prather, Baylor Alumni Association, (254) 710-6431

Ask any Baylor student from the last half century, and they will remember taking classes in Tidwell Bible Building, named for Dr. Josiah Blake Tidwell.

Five generations of Dr. Tidwell's family have attended Baylor, and the family was recently honored with the 2007 First Family of Baylor Award given by the Baylor Alumni Association. The award was presented Sept. 22 during After Dark, a special performance event in Waco Hall and one of the highlights of Parents Weekend.

Dr. Tidwell was not a Baylor alumnus himself, but he served Baylor for nearly four decades - first as a fundraiser; then as a professor of Greek, Latin and Bible; and finally as head of the Bible Department until his retirement in 1945. An 1899 graduate of Howard (now Samford) University, Tidwell served as president of Decatur Baptist College before his move to Baylor.

The five generations of Baylor alumni in the family begin with J.B. Tidwell's second wife, Minnie Hays Tidwell, Class of 1912.

Making up the second generation were his two daughters, Sallye Tidwell Roberts '13 and Mary Enola Tidwell Lile '30.

Four grandchildren comprise the third generation: Ruth K. Tidwell Oakes '38 and her husband, Leland '58; Jo Ruth Roberts Wosika '38; Chloe Tidwell Forkel '42; and K.K. Tidwell Jr.

The fourth generation includes Ruth Tidwell Oakes' daughter, Christina Oakes McKay '70; K. K. Tidwell's daughter-in-law, Brenda Kimbrough Tidwell '74; and Sallye Tidwell Roberts' two grandsons, Daniel Reid Stewart '75 and James G. Stewart and his wife, Anne Uxer Stewart, both members of the Class of '78.

Forkel's granddaughter, Amy Bentzen Smith '95, is the fifth generation to graduate from Baylor, with other family members Kay Forkel Bentzen, Sue Jones Tidwell, and Charles K. Smith also attending.

Over the years, the Tidwells have migrated to several different states, including Idaho, California, Oklahoma and Colorado. And they represent professions like engineering, telecommunications, insurance, law and architecture, as well as education.

Though the towering Bible building bears the family name, it is not the only Baylor building with family connections. A cousin, Birch Easterwood, was the Waco architect who designed the Tidwell Bible Building, as well as Pat Neff Hall, Memorial Hall and the original Brooks Hall.

For more information about this or the other awards given by the Baylor Alumni Association, call (254) 710-1121 or visit to the association's website at

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