Stepping Up for Ouachita is a premier event that helps raise money to assist with scholarships for outstanding Ouachita women. Ouachita Baptist University serves a diverse student body from approximately 30 states and 30 foreign countries.
Each year, the university serves an average of 1,500 students, more than half of whom are female. With over 95% of Ouachita students qualifying for financial aid, the continued need for scholarships is great.
By investing in Stepping Up for Ouachita, you are investing directly in students’ lives and their collegiate experience.
Since its inaugural event in November 2010, Stepping Up for Ouachita has raised more than $350,000 toward scholarships for women at Ouachita. Every year the university honors an outstanding Ouachita woman who has shown grace, leadership, integrity and faith over the years. Below are a list of our past honorees.
Marianne Gosser has a strong love for Ouachita. A 1955 graduate, Marianne and her husband, the late Dr. Bob Gosser (OBU ’56) sent all five of their children to Ouachita and the tradition continues today with their grandchildren.
Born and raised in Piggott, Arkansas, Marianne holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music Education degrees from Ouachita. While at the University in the 50’s, Marianne served as President of Gamma Phi Women’s Social Club and was crowned the first Ouachitonian Beauty. She was a member of the band, choir, the Ouachita Players, and YWA. Following graduation, she taught school in Hot Springs and Little Rock.
An active member of Second Baptist Church of Little Rock, Marianne has taught bible study; directed children’s choir and youth, youth, married and adult Sunday school; and served as church outreach director and as a member of the adult choir. A staple in the community, Marianne served as president of North Little Rock School Board, Junior League of North Little Rock, North Heights PTA, Ridge Road PTA, and Ouachita Former Students Association.
But her biggest pride is with her family. Bob and Marianne were married for 58 years before he passed in 2013. Their five children, Jenny Gosser Turner (OBU ’82), Bobby Gosser, Jr.(OBU ’83) and wife Donna (OBU ‘89), Leigh Anna Askins (OBU ‘89) and husband Jonathan, John Gosser (OBU ’84) and wife Glenda (OBU ‘84) and April Cook (OBU ‘94)and husband Jared. The Gosser grandchildren include: Abby (OBU ’11), Molly Anne (OBU ’14) and Laura Leigh Turner, Trey (OBU ’13), Alex and McKenzie Gosser, J.J. and Jessica Askins, Megan, Gretchen (OBU ’15) and John Mark and Maleah and Adien Cook, Anna and Ava Weeks.
Born in Bluffton, Ark., Betty Ferguson and her twin brother, Billy, were the youngest of four children. Both graduated from Fourche Valley High School, where Betty never missed a day of school. In 1958 and 1959, respectively, she and Billy graduated from Ouachita Baptist University. It was there that she found her love for home economics.
Serving faithfully with the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension, Betty found herself in many Arkansas communities while finishing her master’s degree through the University of Arkansas. From 1969-2001, Betty served as staff chair in Pulaski County. During this time, the Pulaski County program had the largest staff and Extension Homemaker Club in the state. The program was so successful, upon retirement in 2001, Betty was asked to serve on a part-time basis as volunteer coordinator for the Arkansas Extention Homemakers Council, an organization composed of 5,000 members across the state. She continues to faithfully serve there; with 57 and a half years of service, she is the most senior professional in the entire University of Arkansas system.
Betty has served as president of the Arkansas Association of Home Demonstration Agents and vice president of the national association. One of her most valued awards was for housing work she conducted in Lonoke County. Betty was one of only three people to receive this award nationally. Other accolades include the Arkansas Home Economics Outstanding Education Award and the Sister Pierre Vorster Award for Outstanding Volunteer, and she was inducted into the Arkansas Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2004.
She and her husband, Bob, reside in North Little Rock, and they are active members of First Baptist Church of Little Rock. Betty has served on the Ouachita Baptist University Board of Trustees for six years and was elected in November to serve another three year term.
Susie Everett has maintained a love and respect for the Central Arkansas community and Ouachita Baptist University since she was a student in the 1970s. A graduate of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Susie earned her basic college credits at Ouachita. She currently serves on the university’s Board of Trustees.
Born in Tulsa, Susie trusted her life to Christ at the age of 6 at Rimrock Baptist Church in Oklahoma. At the age of 10, her family moved to Benton, Ark., where she attended Benton Schools. Her parents and one of her two brothers now reside in Malvern.
After two and a half years at Ouachita, Susie left for UAMS where she earned a nursing degree. She is a registered nurse and nurse practitioner. She worked in various health care jobs in the Saline County area before becoming co-owner of Everett Buick GMC in 2006 with her husband, Dwight. The Everetts have five dealerships across the state; Susie serves as the spokesperson for all five.
Everett is no stranger to board leadership. In addition to Ouachita’s Board of Trustees, she serves on the Saline Memorial Health Foundation and is a founding member of the Christian Community Care Clinic. She also teaches Sunday school at First Baptist Church of Benton. Susie is a two-time cancer survivor, participating in various American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen events.
Married for 36 years, Dwight and Susie have two daughters, Christa Hudspeth (Brandan) and Anna Hendrix (Chad). She is the proud grandmother of five children – soon to be six – who call her Honey.
Mary Shambarger has made investing in the lives of others her life’s work. For more than 30 years she served on the faculty of Ouachita Baptist University in the Department of Music. Mary has shown grace, leadership, integrity and faith, qualities she has also instilled in her students.
Mary was born and raised in Morrilton, Arkansas, by her parents, Clifford and Emma Lee Stobaugh. After graduating from Morrilton High School, she earned a Bachelor of Music from Louisiana State University, later earning her master’s degree from the University of Arkansas.
Mary’s first teaching job was at Cassville (Missouri) High School, where she met her husband, the late Dr. Jake Shambarger, a basketball coach. As newlyweds, the two moved to Walnut Ridge to teach at Williams Baptist College, where they remained for six years before moving to Ouachita Baptist University in 1966.
While at Ouachita, Mary formed and directed The Ouachi-Tones, an all-female choral ensemble. The group traveled and performed extensively over Arkansas, the United States and abroad, serving as ambassadors for the university. In 1991, after 25 years, she chose to restructure the group and formed The Ouachita Sounds, an ensemble combining women and men.
While on the faculty at OBU, Mary also served as Chairman of the Applied Music Department, Coordinator of Voice, Arkansas Governor of NATS and was OBU’s representative for the Arkansas Women of Higher Education. At the time of her retirement from Ouachita in 1998, she was the Lena Goodwin Trimble Professor of Music, Emerita. The same year, the Mary Shambarger Competition for Singers was established and continues to be held on the OBU campus each February.
Mary’s other professional accomplishments include producing, writing and directing shows for Magic Springs Theme Park in Hot Springs, Ark.; Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville, Ky.; and Frontier City in Oklahoma City, Okla. She has served as the Minister of Music for Baptist churches in Tuckerman, Piggott and Walnut Ridge, Ark.
Mary currently lives in Bentonville, Arkansas, enjoying family. She lives near her daughter, Susan, and son-in-law, Dr. Steve Goss (both graduates of Ouachita). She has two grandsons, Chad and Jake.
She is an active member of First Baptist Church in Bentonville, a member of P.E.O., and the Bentonville Garden Club. Other professional affiliations include the Andante Music Club, National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), American Choral Directors Association, Pi Kappa Lambda, Sigma Alpha Iota and the Governing Board of the Opera in the Ozarks.
Molly Kircher, a 1964 graduate of Ouachita Baptist University, is honored to be the 2012 Stepping Up for Ouachita honoree. She and her husband, Larry (’65), currently reside in Bald Knob where he serves as CEO of Citizens State Bank.
“I am very blessed with a wonderful husband who has a love for Ouachita that very nearly exceeds his love for me. Together, we enjoy the blessing of spreading the news about Ouachita wherever and whenever we can. We are so thankful that we can provide some financial assistance to Ouachita students and hope that those endeavors will bear fruit far into Ouachita’s future.”
Growing up in Piggott, Arkansas, Molly was raised in a single parent home. Her father, Lowell GoForth, served honorably in WWII, losing his life in 1945 when Molly was just 3 years old. “I was greatly loved by my mother and grandparents, I had a happy life growing up in the small town of Piggott.” In 1960, Molly enrolled at Ouachita. “I don’t really remember ‘choosing’ Ouachita, but as Mother had attended the halls of OBC, I was just always sure I would follow her right into Cone-Bottoms Hall. And that I did.”
In 1964, Molly met and married her husband of now 48 years. “My time at Ouachita was filled with many happy memories. I made lifelong friends. Of the three different roommates I was privileged to have over the time of four years, we four are still fast friends with which I communicate regularly.”
After receiving her BA in Sociology, Molly felt her calling was to be with family. “I was employed by the office of the Ladue Board of Education (St. Louis, Mo.) until the birth of our first daughter. I have been privileged to fulfill my heartfelt dream of becoming a full-time housewife and mother to Laura and Jennifer. I am still thankful, daily, that I was granted this opportunity.”
“Our years in Bald Knob have been rewarding, as we have served the community with a business that has benefited the citizens of Bald Knob.” Molly is very active in the community, serving on many boards throughout the years. She currently serves on the board of Friends for Life, a White County not-for-profit Christ-centered organization that ministers to individuals who face unplanned pregnancy. Molly is also active in the Bald Knob Garden Club, serving as President twice; she is Past President of the Bald Knob Country Club and has served on the Board of Directors for Citizens State Bank. The Kirchers are proud members of Central Baptist Church in Bald Knob, where Molly has served as organist for 40 years.
Margaret Wright, a member of the Ouachita Baptist University Class of 1967, graduated with honors with a major in accounting and a minor in economics. Margaret, a Certified Public Accountant, completed her graduate degree from North Texas State University in 1969 with a major in accounting and a minor in economics.
Margaret grew up in Pine Bluff where she married Charles Wright (OBU Class of 1960). Upon retirement in 2004, they moved to Little Rock where they joined Immanuel Baptist Church. They have one daughter, Kimberly Wright-Lawrence (OBU Class of 1985), who lives in Sausalito, Calif., with her husband, Mark. Kimberly is a member of the San Francisco Symphony and a former member of the Chicago Symphony.
Margaret was a member of First Baptist Church of Arkadelphia for 40 years where she served as a Sunday school teacher, four terms on the Finance Committee and held various other offices. While living in Arkadelphia, she served the community as a board member for the Single Parent Scholarship Fund, the Clark County Bond Facilities Commission and the Clark County Industrial Development Commission.
Margaret and Charles served Ouachita for 35 years and 40 years respectively. She began her teaching career at Ouachita in 1969 and retired in 2004. During most of her years of service, Margaret was Chair of the Department of Accounting and Chair of the Division of Business and Economics. From 1993-1999, she served as Director of Corporate and Foundation Programs. Upon her retirement, Margaret was honored as a Professor Emerita of Accounting.
Highlights of Margaret’s recognitions as a professor include being named Teacher of the Year by the Blue Key National Honor Society and being selected by the senior class of 1981 to deliver the spring commencement address. She was frequently recognized for her outstanding teaching. Upon her retirement, friends and former students raised more than $500,000 in her honor to establish the Margaret Wright Chair of Accounting.
As Chair of the Division of Business and Economics, Margaret was instrumental in laying the foundation for moving the division toward becoming a school of business. In 1988, she created the Business Advisory Council which was the precursor to the Business Executive Advisory Board for the Frank D. Hickingbotham School of Business. In 2010, the Business Executive Advisory Board elected Margaret to a lifetime membership.
A member of the Ouachita class of 1967, Sharon and her family have been faithful and generous supporters of Ouachita Baptist University. Sharon grew up in Little Rock, where she graduated from Little Rock Central High School in 1964. She married Johnny Heflin (OBU class of 1967) the summer after they graduated from Ouachita. They were married 39 years and have two sons, Jay (OBU class of 1993) and Marc (OBU class of 1995). Jay and his wife, Andrea (’94), have two children, Ben and Anna. Marc and his wife, Billie (’94), are the parents of two daughters, Grace and Sarah.
The Heflins have been gracious benefactors of Ouachita. Heflin Plaza was dedicated in 2010 in memory of Johnny Heflin, former chairman of the Ouachita Board of Trustees and a prominent Little Rock businessman, and in honor of the Heflin family. During the dedication service, Sharon told the crowd, “There are many aspects of Ouachita that we could point to as important in our lives. However, with us it comes down to the simple statement, ‘Ouachita means the world to our family.’
“Ouachita has helped us to provide a world of opportunities for our family and many others,” she added. “We are thankful to be able to support Ouachita as she continues to support so many.”
In addition to funding for Heflin Plaza, other major projects underwritten by the Heflin family include the Heflin Tennis Center, the Jay and Lynn Heflin Chair of Business and the Heflin Family Scholarship. Sharon also has served as a member of the Ouachita Baptist University Development Council.
During her years as a Ouachita student, Sharon was Homecoming Queen, cheerleader captain, treasurer of the EEEs and a member of Who’s Who and Alpha Chi. She graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business. She and Johnny worked together for several years at Terminix, a family-owned business. In recent years, she has worked with Bird and Bear Medical, Inc., a medical and respiratory equipment company established in 2001 by Johnny, Jay and Marc Heflin.
Always willing to give back to the community, Sharon’s vast community service leadership roles include serving as president of the Baptist Health Foundation Board, president of the Little Rock Central High School Alumni Board, vice president of the Alzheimer Arkansas Board and 2010 co-chair of Art and Soul for Easter Seals of Arkansas. She also is president emeritus of the Arkansas Hospice Foundation Board and has served on a number of other local and statewide boards.
According to Ouachita President Rex M. Horne, Jr., “The Heflin name and the Heflin family are such an integral part of everything good and noble that Ouachita Baptist University is all about. … They are advocates for Ouachita. They are encouragers to those of us who serve here. They are enablers to the students who attend here.”
For those reasons and more, it is a privilege for Ouachita Baptist University to honor Sharon Heflin at the university’s inaugural “Stepping Up for Ouachita” women’s luncheon in recognition of her life of outstanding dedication and service to her alma mater, her family and the community.