Baylor Family Mourns Loss Of Alumna, Former Professor And Faithful Friend

News Photo 4992
Sadie Jo Black sits in the beautiful Founders Mall gardens, which were enhanced through the Sadie Jo Black Gardens Endowment Fund. The gardens were of particular interest to Black, who developed a love of flowers and gardening while growing up on a ranch in Teague, Texas.
Dec. 5, 2010

Beloved alumna, retired professor and lifelong friend of Baylor University, Sadie Jo Black of Waco, Texas, passed away Sunday, Dec. 5, at the age of 80. A rare individual, whose commitment to the beautification of Baylor's campus was matched only by her desire to support Baylor students, Sadie Jo Black's presence and influence will continue to be felt by the Baylor family for generations to come.

"Sadie Jo Black not only embodied all that we cherish about this great University, but she had a gift for showing her love for Baylor in wonderfully tangible ways," said Baylor President Ken Starr. "She was a faithful advocate for our students and was deeply thoughtful with her support. Every time we walk across campus and take in the beauty of her gardens, we are again thankful for how her generous life continues to grace ours."

Providing places of beauty and peace for Baylor's faculty, staff and students brought great satisfaction to Black. She established endowments focused on the beautification of Baylor's campus, such as her provision for the Clifton Robinson Tower's foyer décor and the Sadie Jo Black Gardens Endowment Fund to enhance the beauty of Founders Mall. The latter was of particular interest to Black, who developed a love of flowers and gardening while growing up on a ranch in Teague, Texas. There, she spent many summer days digging up blossoming weeds and transplanting them to her family's own flowerbeds, much to her mother's chagrin.

"My attitude was, 'May all your weeds be wildflowers.' So it seemed to be natural to want to create more beauty here on Baylor's campus," Black once said.

Graduating from Baylor in 1950 with her bachelor of science degree in home economics, Black went on to earn a master's degree in education from Colorado State University, in addition to completing graduate coursework at Texas Women's University and Southern Methodist University. After working for Mexia High School in Mexia, Texas, for seven years, Black returned to Baylor as an assistant professor of home economics (now family and consumer sciences), where she remained for 35 years until her retirement in 1992.

Deeply valuing the opportunities a quality higher education can provide, Black established numerous endowed scholarships at Baylor in honor of her brother, sister-in-law and parents.

"It is difficult to express the loss we are feeling at this time, as, for many of us in the Baylor community, Sadie Jo Black had become an adopted family member," said Bill Dube, director of the Endowed Scholarship Program at Baylor. "Few individuals have made such an extensive impact on the lives of Baylor students through scholarship support. We remain humbled by and deeply grateful for the lasting mark Sadie Jo has left on our lives and the life of our University. She will be greatly missed."

A survivor of two cancer occurrences and touched forever by the impact cancer had on her own mother, brother and sister-in-law, Black was passionate about supporting research to aid in finding cures for this dreaded disease. When she learned about the promising cancer research being conducted at Baylor, she readily committed herself to enhancing the effort by creating the Sadie Jo Black Endowed Fund for Undergraduate Students in Medical Research in 2007. Black also established an endowment to provide a distinguished lecture series focusing on pre-eminent research in cancer, Parkinson's disease or other major diseases.

"I am so thankful to God for sharing Sadie Jo Black with us here on Earth -- although I selfishly wish that her time with us could have been even longer. Sadie Jo whole-heartedly loved Baylor University, and her long-term commitment of personal time and energy, coupled with her incredibly generous philanthropic nature, has clearly left Baylor University a better place both now and for generations to come," said Dr. Kevin Pinney, professor of chemistry at Baylor. "Most importantly, though, are the countless lives that Sadie Jo has touched over the years through her kind spirit, her warm and contagious sense of humor, her sharp and playful intellect, and her steadfast presence in the lives of so many."

Steadfastly committed to Baylor's future, Black was a member of the Endowed Scholarship Society, Old Main Society and Baylor Bear Foundation. Additionally, she faithfully supported the Armstrong Browning Library Guardian Angels and Baylor/Waco Foundation. A fitting candidate to lend perspective to a cause she championed on a personal level, Black served on The President's Scholarship Initiative Steering Committee, which was established in 2010. For her exemplary service and philanthropy to Baylor, she was awarded the James Huckins and Pat Neff medallions within the Baylor University Medallion Fellowship. In October 2010, Black received the prestigious Baylor Legacy Award, uniquely merited by her foresight, deep affection for and generosity to the University.

A longtime Waco resident, Black was involved with the Mary Milam Garden Club, Historic Waco Foundation and Brazos Forum, and she was an active member of First Baptist Church, Waco.

Visitation will be held 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 7, at Grace Gardens Funeral Home, 8220 Woodway Drive. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 8, at the Paul W. Powell Chapel at George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor. Interment will follow at the Greenwood Cemetery in Teague, Texas.

Sadie Jo Black's body will lie in repose at the Powell Chapel at Truett Seminary from 8 a.m. to noon Wednesday, Dec. 8.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to the Sadie Jo Black Endowed Scholarship Fund at Baylor University at One Bear Place #97050, Waco, Texas 76798 or online at

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

Looking for more news from Baylor University?