Dr. Patti Strickel Harrison, a Texas State Hero and an ardent supporter of students and the university died June 1, 2021, in Houston.
Born Sept. 21, 1929, Patti Strickel grew up in Port Neches. She attended Texas State University from 1947 to 1948, ultimately graduating from Lamar University with a degree in medical technology. She would go on to launch three clinical diagnostic companies, work for an investment management firm, own and operate restaurants, and later to open an inn in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
In 2013 Texas State presented her with an honorary doctoral degree.
Dr. Harrison is among Texas State’s most generous benefactors, giving more than $11.5 million. Her gifts have impacted many lives and areas of the university, including general scholarship support through the Patti Strickel Harrison Scholarship Fund, College of Education scholarship support through the Mary Jane Hamilton Memorial Presidential Endowment, the Harrison New Musical Works Commission supporting the development of new musicals premiered at Texas State, and the PSH (Patti Strickel Harrison) Foundation Endowment in Musical Theatre. Her commitment of $8 million helped the university build the Performing Arts Center that includes the Patti Strickel Harrison Theatre.
Dr. Harrison also provided valuable leadership as chair of the Fine Arts Pillar of the “Pride in Action Campaign” that continues to benefit Texas State, served as a member of the College of Fine Arts and Communication Advisory Council, and she was an honorary life member of the Texas State Development Foundation Board.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Raymond Harrison, and her stepdaughter, Mary Jane Hamilton.
James Costello (B.B.A ’77, M.B.A. ’79), who worked in the insurance business for many years, died Feb. 18, 2020, at his home in California. Survivors include his parents, Barbara and George Costello, and a sister, Lindsay Mraz.
Earl Scott (B.S. ’50) who, as a high school football coach in the Rio Grande Valley, won 101 of 152 games in his career, died Sept. 11, 2020, in Round Rock. He was a veteran of World War II and the Korean War. He played football for the Bobcats. In 1993 he was inducted into the Texas State Athletics Hall of Honor. He met his wife of 69 years, Betty Blackburn Scott, on a blind date at Texas State. She died in February 2020. Survivors include three children, Christina Gieringer, Dever Scott, and Mark Scott
Phillip “Jeff” Walker (B.E.S.S. ’98), who coached high school football and taught special education in Liberty Hill ISD, died on Nov. 30, 2020. He spent six years as head coach and athletic director at Rogers High School. In 2017 he rejoined the Liberty Hill Panthers to become athletic director and head coach. In 2019 he was honored as the American Statesman’s Coach of the Year. Walker completed the 2020 regular season with an 8-0 record. Survivors include his wife, Miranda, and daughters Regan and Madison.
Dr. Dennis Grizzle (B.S. ’48, M.A. ’52), who was the first executive director of the Region 3 Education Service Center, died on Dec. 1, 2020, in Victoria. Grizzle was a veteran of World War II who saw combat in the Philippines where he earned two Bronze Stars. In his civilian life, he worked as a high school coach, principal, and superintendent. Survivors include his wife of 73 years, Earline (B.A. ’47); two children, Dinah and Reagan; four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Jeremy LeJuene (B.E.S.S. ’99, M.Ed. ’02), who was principal at Burnet Middle School, died Dec. 6, 2020. He was previously the principal of Dessau Middle School in Pflugerville ISD. In 2018 he was named Regional Middle School Principal of the Year by the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals. Survivors include his wife, Donna; and three daughters.
Phillip Jimenez (B.F.A. ’96), a teacher and coach at Sam Houston High School in San Antonio died on Dec. 22, 2020. He was 49 years old and had been working toward a master’s degree in education administration. A special needs educator at Sam Houston, Jimenez also coached football, baseball, and track. Survivors include his parents, Robert and Elvira Jimenez; sisters, Debra Munoz and Lisa Barajas; and a brother, Robert Jimenez Jr. (B.A. ’95).
Dr. Aditi K. Angirasa, a longtime faculty member in the College of Applied Arts and the former chair of the Department of Agriculture Sciences, died on Jan. 5, 2021. Dr. Angirasa, a professor of agricultural business, joined the university in 1989. Survivors include his wife, Mona; his son, Arush; and a grandson.
Steve Dockal (B.F.A. ’84), who worked as a graphic designer and art director, died on Jan. 9, 2021, in New Braunfels.
Ron K. Davis Sr. (M.P.A. ’83), who served on the Travis County Commissioners Court for 18 years and was a lifelong advocate for East Austin residents, died on Feb. 2, 2021. Survivors include his wife Annie, three children, and six grandchildren.
Elena Vela (M.Ed. ’75), who would become the first Hispanic woman principal of an Austin high school, died April 2, 2021. She served as principal of William B. Travis High School from 1984 to 1996. She completed her career with Austin ISD as human resources coordinator from 1999-2007. Survivors include her brothers Alberto Vela and Alfredo Vela.
Thomas Addison Buckner III (B.A. ’56), who was an editor and part-owner of the San Marcos Record, died April 9, 2021, in Temple. He was 86. A native of San Marcos, he joined the Air Force after graduation and retired in 1984 as a lieutenant colonel from the Texas Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. He served as public relations director of Southwestern University and would later teach journalism at McLennan Community College. Survivors include a daughter, Bonnie Bumpus, and a son, William Buckner.
Dr. Alexander Zakhidov, associate professor of physics, died June 15, 2021, at his home in Austin. He received his Ph.D. from Moscow State University. He joined the university’s Department of Physics in 2014 where he specialized in organic electronics and optoelectronic devices. Dr. Zakhidov built a capable research group and won several prestigious grants. Survivors include his wife, Masha Pavlova, and a daughter, Mia Rose.