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Ruth Ann Stallings received the Paris Junior College 2012 Distinguished Alumna Award before a large crowd of family, friends and well-wishers in the Love Civic Center Saturday. In her comments she thanked family and friends for the influence they have had on her life, including her husband, Gene “Bebes” Stallings, whom she said she didn’t know was special in high school until he refused a friend who wanted to give him the answers to a test because he wouldn’t cheat.
“That was when I knew he was special,” Stallings said. “We’ve been married more than 55 years and he’s still special.”
She touched on their son, Johnny, saying many books, songs, and other tributes were inspired by his life, including the recent dedication of the football field at Faulkner University in his memory with a life size statue of Johnny and his Daddy holding hands, walking onto the football field.
“All of this happened because of a young man who could read probably 20 words and could not even count to 20 so you never know what a difference someone could make,” she said.
“I have so many wonderful memories of so many of you here,” Stallings said. She relayed several of those memories and a humorous anecdote of how she and a friend ran out onto the PJC football field at the end of the game, except 30 seconds were added on to the clock and the game was still going.
“So we went running out in the middle with all of the football players. I played in the band with the French horn, so I had this huge instrument and we knew we would be seen,” she added as the crowd laughed. “’Classmate’ has become one of my favorite words because it conjures up so many wonderful memories.”
Taking a more serious tone, she concluded her remarks by saying: “To President Anglin, the Board of Regents, the faculty, the staff of Paris Junior College, Bobby Walters and his wife Imy who made it back from Italy, and especially Paul Gene Roden who served on the Board for so many years and as chairman for so many progressive years, we the alumni owe all of you a deep debt of gratitude. You’ve enriched PJC and made it, most likely, the premiere community college in the State of Texas. We are so proud to be graduates of PJC. I know that under the present leadership of the Board of Regents that we have now that it will continue to grow and get better and better.”
The program concluded with a surprise. A framed letter from an old admirer was read aloud and then presented to her. In it, the admirer told how his older brother brought home the new “Galleon” yearbook. As he flipped through it, he came upon Ruth Ann’s photo and relayed how it made his heart race and his life was set.
“If this is what women who attended PJC looked like, I was going to PJC to find my dream woman. Yes, I had a huge junior high crush on Ruth Ann, and until now I never had the opportunity to tell her,” wrote Duane Allen, lead singer of the Oak Ridge Boys, 1962 PJC graduate and 1985 PJC Distinguished Alumni.
The endowment established in honor of Ruth Ann Stallings had reached over $15,000 as of Saturday. For more information about the endowment, or to make a donation, contact PJC’s Office of Institutional Advancement at 903-782-0276 or firstname.lastname@example.org.