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ACU alumnus auctions painting this week to benefit Welcome Center

Old Havana Jazz

Dallas artist Rolando Diaz ('79) has placed one of his original oil paintings on eBay for auction this week, and committed to giving the proceeds to the construction of the Bob and Shirley Hunter Welcome Center on the ACU campus. The painting, "Old Havana Jazz," takes the viewer back to Rolando's roots in Cuba.

Diaz was born in Havana to a Cuban businessman who brought his family to the United States to flee the oppressive Communist regime.

His works can be found in the hands of private collectors and clients including Liza Minnelli, Rob Thomas (lead singer for Matchbox 20), Reggie Williams (Vice President of Disney World Attractions), B.J. and Gloria Thomas, and many others.

When asked why he wanted to donate the proceeds of this auction to the Hunter Welcome Center, Diaz explained his long-time connection to the Hunter family. 

"During my college years at ACU, Bob and Shirley's kids were also at ACU," said Diaz. "In fact, I lived with Kent for a short period of time off-campus with four other guys.  My brother and I were the only two Cubans on campus, so we appreciated the fact that they took an interest in us and invited us to spend time in their home."

Diaz has crossed paths many times with the Hunters since graduating from ACU in 1979. 

"Recently, Bob was very kind to emcee a special fundraiser at the Abilene Civic Center to benefit the non-profit 'Bridges to the World,'" said Diaz. "With his help, my artwork was auctioned and the event was a great success.  This is my small way of saying thanks."

Phil Boone ('83), director of ACU's Centennial Campaign, pointed to Bob's connection with the Diaz family as one of those quiet stories that characterize his great love for ACU and for students. 

"Rolando and Chris Diaz lived in Miami, and the financial and logistical challenges to attend ACU seemed insurmountable," said Boone. "But not for Bob Hunter!  Bob did amazing things to ensure the Diaz's could receive a Christian education at ACU."

"It seemed fitting for Rolando to make a gift honoring this special couple, and at the same time help provide a place on the campus to welcome new students, just as he was welcomed."

The auction began Nov. 6, and bidding will close Nov. 16 at 9 p.m. PST.  Net proceeds will be donated to ACU toward the construction of the Hunter Welcome Center.  More than $7 million of the $14 million needed has been committed for this project.

Diaz has exhibited at the Grace Museum in Abilene, as well as other galleries nationally and abroad.  He was commissioned in 1999 to do a painting for the renovation of the Pegasus Project in Dallas.  In conjunction with this project, the Central Dallas Association, assisted by former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk, received $25,000 for the work auctioned to highest bidder Paul Harris of The Hoblitzel Foundation.

For more information about the Bob and Shirley Hunter Welcome Center, visit www.acu.edu/welcomecenter. View auction details at eBay's website.