Harbers to receive honorary doctorates

Posted May 21, 2015 Abilene Christian University will present Lacy and Dorothy Harber of Denison, Texas, with honorary doctorates on May 26, celebrating their lifelong service to humanity and outstanding philanthropy.

The presentation will take place at 10 a.m. in the atrium of Hunter Welcome Center with a reception to follow.

“Lacy and Dorothy Harber exemplify and embody the qualities of individuals worthy of our university’s highest distinction,” said ACU president Dr. Phil Schubert, who along with provost Dr. Robert Rhodes will present the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degrees.

Lacy and Dorothy, both natives of Abilene, grew up in modest circumstances but through hard work and business acumen became successful business owners, real estate investors and philanthropists.

Lacy is a graduate of Wylie High School, and Dorothy graduated from Abilene High. Lacy enrolled at Abilene Christian College in the late 1950s, but quickly turned his full attention to his work for G&L Tool Company, earning $220 a month.

A few years later, he bought the company and grew the business to 14 locations throughout Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.  At the time, it was the largest independent oil field service company in the United States.

The Harbers eventually bought a marina on Lake Texoma and now own numerous marinas from North Texas to the Gulf Coast. They also bought a small banking enterprise, American Bank of Texas, and expanded it to now more than 30 locations and one of the largest independent banking organizations in Texas. More recently, they have become significant real estate investors, with holdings across the United States.

Their life, however, has not been without great challenges.

As a child, Lacy was diagnosed with scoliosis, and by the time he was 7 had difficulty walking. Without money for expensive medical treatment, his mother received a referral to the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas, which was developing new treatments for children with this condition at no charge to the families. After years of treatment, Lacy was able to shed the leg braces, walk normally and even compete in high school track events.  

Despite, or perhaps because of, such challenges, the Harbers have a depth of understanding and compassion that drives their existence. Their “live to give” philosophy has improved countless disadvantaged lives and philanthropic organizations.  

They have given away and/or committed through their estate tens of millions of dollars to entities such as the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, the Salvation Army, the Texoma Medical Center Foundation, Opportunity Village, and multiple hospitals and orphanages in Africa. ACU is also a recipient of a multi-million dollar pledge from their estate primarily for scholarships to students in the field of biblical studies.

In 2011, the Harbers were chosen as recipients of the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor Award, given to individuals who “exemplify outstanding qualities in both their personal and professional lives.” Past recipients of this award include six former U.S. presidents and Nobel Prize winners.

They are active members of the Denison community and the congregation where they attend, Park Avenue Church of Christ.   

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