Ouachita Baptist University honored five distinguished alumni as 2012 Ouachita Alumni Milestone Award recipients during recent Homecoming festivities on campus.
This year’s honorees are Dan Dipert (OBU Class of 1962), CEO of Dan Dipert Tours in Arlington, Texas; Tom Spillyards (OBU Class of 1972), CEO and president of Simmons First Bank of Northwest Arkansas; Rex Nelson (OBU Class of 1982), president of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges and Universities; Angela Magers (OBU Class of 1992), founder of the Montessori Academy of North Texas; and Bonnie Montgomery (OBU Class of 2002), a composer, singer and songwriter based in Little Rock.
“The Ouachita Alumni Milestone Award allows us to honor and celebrate alumni ‘difference makers’ in various fields during their reunion year,” explained Jon Merryman, director of Ouachita Alumni. “This year’s recipients are great representatives of their class and we are honored to recognize them for their vision, integrity and service as well as their career achievements.
“Honoring these alumni at Homecoming gives prospective students and their parents, as well as current students, faculty and staff, the opportunity to hear from and interact with outstanding Ouachita graduates,” he added.
“Our hope and prayer is for our graduates to make a difference in this world. Fortunately so many do,” said Ouachita President Rex Horne. “Our Alumni Milestone Awards this year exemplify the fact that our alumni serve in varied fields in many places. I congratulate them on behalf of all who love Ouachita.”
This year’s honorees are the third class of recipients of the Ouachita Alumni Milestone Award. Their educational and professional experience includes:
Dan Dipert: After graduating from Ouachita in 1962, Dipert served three years as youth director at First Baptist Church of Little Rock. In 1965, he moved to Texas to attend Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary where he earned his Master of Religious Education degree. While there, he served as youth and recreation director at First Baptist Church of Arlington. In 1972, Dipert purchased a small travel agency and built it into the largest independent tour and travel company in the Southwest. 2012 marks the 40th year in business for Dan Dipert Tours.
Tom Spillyards: After graduating from Ouachita in 1972, Tom attended the University of Arkansas and earned his Master of Business Administration degree in 1974. After a short time of service in the U.S. Army, he and his wife, Rita, moved to Pine Bluff where he began his career in banking at National Bank of Commerce (now Worthen Banking Corporation). He became president and CEO of that bank in 1992. In 1996, Spillyards accepted the position of president and CEO of Simmons First National Bank of Pine Bluff and in 2004 accepted his current position as president and CEO of Simmons First Bank of Northwest Arkansas.
Rex Nelson: Nelson, who graduated from Ouachita in 1982, has been the radio voice of Ouachita Tiger football for three decades. Nelson served as Gov. Mike Huckabee’s director of policy and communications for nearly a decade. In 2005, he was named by President George W. Bush as one of two appointees to the Delta Regional Authority. Known as an expert on Arkansas history, Southern culture and Southern politics, Nelson also writes a weekly column for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and is the author or the popular blog rexnelsonsouthernfried.com. He also directs the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, serves on numerous boards and since 2011 has served as the president of Arkansas’ Independent Colleges and Universities, an association of Arkansas’ private schools of higher education, including Ouachita.
Angela (Bell) Magers: After graduating from Ouachita in 1992, Magers earned her Master of Arts in Teaching degree in 1998 and spent two years teaching business courses at Sherman High School. In 2005, she opened the Montessori Academy of North Texas, a private school for students 18 months through grade 8. Magers also serves on the advisory committee for the Austin Teacher Program at Austin College in Sherman, Texas.
Bonnie Montgomery: After graduating from Ouachita in 2002, Montgomery traveled to China to teach English and later returned to the States to complete her Master of Arts in Music at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music. Montgomery recently created “Billy Blythe,” a folk-opera based on the life of young Billy Blythe, President Bill Clinton’s birth name, portraying his life growing up in Hot Springs during the late 1950s. The opera debuted in New York’s Theater District in 2011. Montgomery is known as a classically trained opera singer by day and honky-tonk queen by night. She is currently on tour traveling the country singing in a country duo and has been featured on MSNBC and in the pages of The New Yorker, Time magazine, The Huffington Post and The New York Observer. She recently released a three-song EP titled “Cruel” on the Fast Weapons label based in Portland, Ore.
Ouachita Baptist University, a private liberal arts university in Arkadelphia, Ark., has served since 1886 as a Christ-centered learning community. With a current enrollment of 1,532 students, Ouachita is educating students from 29 states and more than 30 nations. For more information, visit www.obu.edu.
By Trennis Henderson, OBU Vice President for Communications