Nearly 200 people were in attendance as Mays Business School at Texas A&M University recognized five individuals for their careers of merit and lives of service at its annual Outstanding Alumni Awards dinner.
The awards were presented to Paul Kruse ’77, Alan Roberts ’78, Daniel Sparks ’89, and Robyn Roberts ’89, at a banquet at the Miramont Country Club in Bryan, Texas on November 13.
Ernest Wehner ’41, the namesake of the building where Mays is housed, was also recognized with this award, posthumously. Accepting on his behalf were daughters Molly (Wehner) Marks “82 and Diane (Wehner) Weigle.
“The Outstanding Alumni Award is the highest honor Mays bestows upon its graduates,” said Mays Dean Jerry Strawser, who presided at the event. Strawser pointed out that of the thousands of successful Mays alumni, only 54 have been chosen as recipients of this award in the 17 years that it has been given. “That tells you what an honor this is,” said Strawser. Recipients were chosen on the basis of their personal and professional success in life, as well as their contributions to the greater good.
“It is obvious that [the honorees’] success in the business world has not come at the expense of family and friends,” said Strawser, recognizing the many friends, family members and coworkers of the honorees that were present at the event. Previous years’ recipients, officials from Texas A&M and Mays, and a number of current Mays studentsâ€”the outstanding alumni of the futureâ€”also attended.
The students were especially welcome, as Strawser mentioned that it was important for them to see examples of Mays alumni making a difference in the world. “Tonight you have role models of people that have done well, but you also have role models of people that have done right,” he said, emphasizing to students that the honorees lives are a testament to the fact that you don’t need to sacrifice integrity for success.
The honorees’ careers ranged from ice cream making to pipeline construction to accountancy, but each had something in common: a dedication to improving their communities and Texas A&M.
Paul W. Kruse “77
“I received an excellent education at A&M. But for that education, I would not be where I am today.”
Though Paul Kruse grew up around the Blue Bell creamery where his grandfather, father, and uncle all had leadership roles, his initial career plans did not include joining the family business. He graduated magna cum laude from A&M in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, then went on to Baylor University School of Law. Kruse had his own private law practice in Brenham, Texas for several years before he was elected to serve on the board of directors at Blue Bell in 1983.
In 1986, Kruse became General Counsel of Blue Bell. In 1991, he was named vice president, and eventually chief executive officer and president in 2004.Â Since he joined the Company, Blue Bell has expanded outside the state of Texas and has the current distinction of being the 3rd best selling ice cream in the nation, with sales in 17 southern states.
Kruse is a past chairman of the International Ice Cream Association, and has had previous leadership roles at Trinity Medical Center, the Blinn College Foundation and Dairy Products Institute of Texas. He is a member and past president of the Brenham Rotary Club and is a trustee of the Texas 4-H Youth Development Foundation and the Ron Stone Foundation. In 2006, Kruse received the Soaring Eagle Award from the International Dairy Foods Association, and was inducted into the Dairy Products Institute of Texas Hall of Fame the following year.
Alan B. Roberts ’78
“As my mom used to say, hard work doesn’t hurt anyone. It’s just good for you.”
Following his graduation with a BBA in accounting in 1978, Alan Roberts worked for a CPA firm in Victoria, Texas before launching his own company. He started Pumpco, Inc. in 1981 to provide oilfield pump repair and lease services with little more than personal integrity, a truck, faith, and the willingness to work as long and hard as was necessary to become regarded as a top contractor.
In 1985, Roberts had the good fortune to meet fellow Aggie accounting major Robyn Meyer ’89 at an Aggie football game. When they married a few years later, Alan not only took on a life partner, but a business partner as well, as Robyn became a co-owner of the company and the corporate treasurer.
Over the years, Pumpco, Inc. has flourished, as evidenced by the growth in the size and sophistication of its equipment and the number of employees. Both the territory it covers and services it provides have expanded. In 2007, Pumpco, Inc. was named to the Aggie 100, the list of the top 100 fastest growing Aggie-owned-or-operated businesses. Recently, the Roberts sold the company to MasTec, Inc. of Coral Gables, Florida.
Roberts has served as chairman of the board of trustees of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Giddings. He is a member of the Breakfast Lions Club in Giddings and continues to serve as treasurer of the St. Mark’s Medical Center Foundation in nearby La Grange.
Daniel L. Sparks “89
“There’s going to be great opportunity when we get through all of this [financial turmoil]â€¦what a great time to learn.”
Though he lives in New Canaan, Connecticut, Dan Sparks ’89 and his family can often be spotted around College Station, especially during football and basketball seasons. As dedicated maroon and white enthusiasts, Sparks and his family make the trip to Aggieland frequently.
Sparks graduated in 1989 with degrees in finance and accounting. Later that year he started working at Goldman Sachs, where he would build a career for nearly two decades. He has held a variety of positions at that company, with responsibilities usually focused around commercial and residential loans. He moved up the management ranks internally, building a reputation for sound business sense. Sparks left Goldman Sachs in June of 2008 to pursue other business opportunities.
Sparks has been a guest lecturer in the classroom, as well as a member of the finance department advisory board. He is an active supporter of the 12th Man Foundation and serves on its board of trustees.
Robyn Meyer Roberts ’89
“For me and my family, being an Aggie is a way of life. And the Aggie way of life is to serve.”
Robyn Roberts ’89 didn’t have to go far from home to find success. A Giddings resident all her life, Roberts left her hometown for an Aggie education, just 50 miles away in 1985. It was that year that she met her husband, Alan “78, at an Aggie football game.
Roberts graduated in 1989 with her degree in accounting and went to work for Browning-Ferris Industries as a controller in their San Antonio office. A marriage proposal brought her back to Giddings, where she became co-owner of the company her husband founded, Pumpco, Inc. She has served in the capacity of corporate treasurer for the company for many years. Recently, the company was sold to MasTec Inc., but remains under the Roberts’ leadership.
Giving back to the community is very important to Roberts, who has served as congregational treasurer of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Giddings and on the School Board of Immanuel Lutheran School. She is a member of the New Horizon Lions Club in Giddings and serves as board treasurer of St. Mark’s Medical Center in La Grange. Recently, she was invited to join the board of regents at Concordia Lutheran University in Austin, Texas.
Ernest L. Wehner ’41 (1920-1991)
“In Houston, he was know as a business man who would never cut a corner, much like the Aggie band he was a part of.” – Molly (Wehner) Marks “82
A native of Del Rio, Texas, Ernest L. “Pete” Wehner ’41 enrolled at A&M in the fall of 1937. He was a member of the Fighting Texas Aggie Band and served as Band Commander his senior year. He had the distinction of being a Military Honor Graduate of the class of 1941 when he graduated with a degree in agricultural administration. At that time the university did not offer a degree in business, but Wehner took all the accounting classes that were offered and was able to compile enough hours to sit for the CPA exam.
Shortly after graduating, Wehner was called to serve his country in WWII. He fought bravely with the United States Army Field Artillery on the European front, eventually attaining the rank of major.
Wehner began a successful career in accounting when he returned home. He spent the majority of his career with the Houston office of Arthur Andersen and Co. where he worked for 33 years until his early retirement in 1979. During those years, Wehner was given progressive managerial responsibilities eventually becoming a senior partner. He also spent seven years on the firm’s international board of directors.
Wehner was a member of the A&M Chancellor’s Century Council, the President’s Council, the Board of Visitors of Texas A&M University at Galveston, and the investment advisory committee of the Texas A&M University System. He was also the president of the board of trustees of the Texas A&M Foundation for one year.
Wehner and his wife, Jo Alice, gave back to Texas A&M in many ways, including a President’s Endowed Scholarship, a 12th Man Foundation Permanently Endowed Scholarship, and Diamond Century Club support of the Association of Former Students. In 1976, Wehner was named a Distinguished Alumnus, Texas A&M University’s highest honor.
For more information
To see a list of previous Mays Outstanding Alumni Award recipients, click here.