High spirits prevailed during a night filled with food, friends and music to honor two special Texans. State Rep. Bob Hunter and his wife Shirley were joined by 800 friends, colleagues, constituents and students Thursday evening in Dallas.
The evening began with a private reception where Hunter received several awards from across the country. Gov. Rick Perry, the City of Los Angeles and U.S. Rep. Kenny Marchant sent plaques and certificates to commemorate Hunter's 20 years of public service.
"As a Texan, second to none, and as an acclaimed public servant, you (Hunter) stand before us all, building a legacy that will immeasurably benefit the generations to come," said Perry in his declaration.
A plaque received from Congressman Kenny Marchant, "Honoring Texas State Representative and education advocate Dr. Robert D. Hunter," read: "An asset to the state of Texas and its higher education system, Dr. Hunter has consistently served without want of recognition. However, today I commend him for his diligent public service efforts in furthering higher education."
After a video tribute to the Hunters, Dr. Gerald Turner, SMU president and ACU alumnus, served as master of ceremonies for the evening. Turner thanked all "800 of Bob and Shirley's closest friends" for coming out for this special tribute.
Dr. Royce Money, ACU president, was on hand to honor the Hunters."Bob, thank you for what your energetic leadership has meant to Abilene Christian University, for the distinctive ACU traditions that began with you, for the difference you've made to students across Texas, for the magnificent way you've supported higher education, for your characteristic Christian leadership and selfless service to others. That you have continued your service to ACU for more than 50 years is a privilege that I doubt many other universities have enjoyed."
When Secretary of State Roger Williams stepped to the podium, he continued to praise the Hunters with kind words.
"For the past 20 years Bob has faithfully served the people of Abilene, Nolan and Taylor counties," said Williams. "But more than that, he has served the entire state of Texas through his leadership in Austin to get the job done, and to get the job done right.
"Whether it's been in the classrooms or boardrooms at ACU, or the committee rooms of the House in Austin, Texas Rep. Hunter has always been an advocate for higher education and fought for young people. His Texas Tuition Equalization Grant program helped 29,000 future leaders attend some of Texas' finest institutions last year.
"The footprints you (Hunter) are leaving behind in Austin will preserve your legacy as a man of character, a man of integrity and a man who knows what it means to serve his faith and to serve his country."
The evening ended with a performance from Grammy award-winning recording artist Amy Grant.
"During Amy's concert, she paid personal tribute to Bob and Shirley several times and dedicated songs to them," said Dr. Michelle Morris, ACU vice president for university relations. "It was wonderful to see so many distinguished guests come to honor Bob for his service to the state of Texas and to the university. Also, many ACU students were blessed with the chance to interact with state legislators and leaders in education, business and the community."Event sponsorships and gifts toward the event exceeded $500,000. Proceeds will benefit ACU's Bob and Shirley Hunter Welcome Center to be built in the near future, said Brent Magner, director of development at ACU.