McMurry Alumna Barbara Seidel Swagerty Receives John Wesley Award

  Gary Ellison
  Wednesday, April 19, 2017 1:30 PM
  Archives 2014 - 2015

Abilene, TX

In recognition of her many years of service to McMurry University, alumna Barbara Seidel Swagerty ’56 has been selected to receive the John Wesley Award for exemplary service and giving to her alma mater. She will receive the award at the annual President’s Appreciation Reception at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 20, in the Furr Welcome Center hosted by Dr. Sandra Harper.

Barbara Seidel Swagerty recalls her McMurry days with fondness and she credits her alma mater with shaping her life’s journey and preparing her for future service.  While at McMurry, she was active in Wah Wahtaysee, was business manager for the Totem yearbook staff and was a reporter for the War Whoop. Barbara earned a bachelor’s degree from McMurry in 1956 and a master of education degree in 1958, and has given generously to her alma mater for years.

Her dream for the Seidel Swagerty Tennis Center began growing in 1962 when Barbara started coaching tennis and other sports. She noticed the McMurry tennis courts were the same courts on which she had played when she rode her bicycle to campus as a child. A seed was planted, and she vowed then to do what she could to build a tennis facility that she and her alma mater could be proud of.

The first gift, a joint donation from Barbara and her father, came in 1998. Resurfacing of existing courts and construction of three additional courts was completed, and the final phase of construction, which included a pavilion with offices, locker rooms and a classroom, was completed in the spring of 2013.    

Barbara’s generosity didn’t end with the Tennis Center. Students in music, men’s and women’s physical education, elementary education, and athletics all benefit from scholarship funds she endowed in honor of family members.  One in particular has special meaning to Barbara, since it was named for her son, 1974 Texas A&M graduate W. Alan Swagerty, who died tragically in a car accident.  Most recently, she endowed a scholarship in the name of Sue Carney, who served on staff for McMurry for many years and is a personal friend of Barbara’s.

In addition to the Barbara Seidel Swagerty Tennis Center and the multiple endowments she has funded, she regularly provides support to T.I.P. Social Club which she came to love when she served as club sponsor.  Her most recent capital funding project was the paving of a parking lot near the Tennis Center and repaving of the lots between the Bynum Band Hall and Wilford Moore Stadium.

Barbara’s generosity goes beyond supporting her beloved McMurry.  She also gives to her church, St. Paul United Methodist Church, as well as community organizations, such as Meals on Wheels and the Community Foundation of Abilene.  Her involvements are many, and Barbara’s work ethic is evident in her painstaking and meticulous care of her yard at the Seidel family home, including her iris garden that was the source of many of the varieties that once grew in McMurry’s Iris Garden. 

Her tender heart, her giving nature, and her quick wit has garnered her many friends over the years.  One friend, Sara Graham, who nominated Barbara for this award, stated that “Barbara is the kind of woman I try to measure up to.”  McMurry is pleased to honor Barbara Swagerty for her loyal generosity and for being a role model to many who include McMurry in their philanthropic priorities. 


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