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Paris native Robert L. Abshire, Ph.D., has been selected as the 2013 Paris Junior College Distinguished Alumni Award. Abshire will be honored during the 89th homecoming luncheon Saturday, November 9, at the McLemore Student Center.
His scientific career includes roles as both educator and scientist. Abshire completed 22 years with Alcon Laboratories Inc., where he was part of a team that created several patents. He was enshrined into the Alcon “Hall of Fame” in 2006 for “outstanding contributions to development of ophthalmic antibiotic products.” In addition to the patents, Abshire has over 30 scientific articles published in scientific, professional and peer-review journals.
A 6’ 3” left-handed shooter, Abshire attended PJC in 1950-52 and was a member of the Dragons basketball team. He went on to earn his bachelors of sciences degree in physical education and science from then East Texas State University in 1954.
That year he began teaching from elementary school through high school biology as well as coaching football, basketball and baseball for Paris ISD.
While teaching, he went on to earn master’s degrees in school administration and biological sciences with a minor in chemistry from ETSU. Upon completing his second master’s degree he was named PJC’s athletic director where he coached baseball and basketball, taught microbiology, general biology and botany, and was the manager of the men’s dormitory.
Shortly after the opening of Campbell Soup Company in Paris, Abshire carried his biological sciences and chemistry education to the food industry, serving as the Assistant Plant Technologist in Quality Control.
Dedicated to the sciences, he entered the doctoral program at the University of North Texas where and completed his Ph.D. in Water Pollution Microbiology and Chemistry. While at UNT, he served as an adjunct professor of biology.
He continued his education career at DeKalb Community College, Decatur, Ga., where he taught microbiology, general biology, botany, invertebrate zoology, human anatomy and physiology. In addition, he served as the chair of the Math and Science Division and was the Coordinator of the Nursing Program and Curriculum. While there, he also served as a Center for Disease Control “guest scientist” as Chief of the Microbiologic Control, Bacterial Disease and Bureau of Epidemiology.
Now retired, Abshire calls Benbrook, Texas, home. He has two sons, Gary Abshire of Fort Worth and Krys Abshire of Benbrook. Their mother, Lynda Abshire, resides in Westport, Conn. Siblings include a sister, Marie Strickland in Lawton, Okla., and two brothers, Ralph Abshire in Fort Worth and long-time barber Jack Abshire in Paris. They are the children of the late Charles and Leona Abshire.
The 89th Homecoming festivities kick off Thursday, November 7 with a Student Government Association sponsored parade through downtown Paris and highlighted with the annual President’s Reception, Memorial Service, Academic Hall of Honor presentation and basketball games.
Luncheon tickets are $20. For more information or reservations, call the Office of Institutional Advancement and Alumni Affairs on the Paris campus at (903) 782-0276 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.