Alumni

Mark Luenser

Photo of Mark LuenserMark Luenser (’91), 58, of Coppell, senior food service manager for UNT Dining Services since 2015, died July 13 in Dallas.

Luenser, who earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing at UNT, oversaw The Corner Store, WhichWich and Jamba Juice on campus. He previously worked in management and supervisory positions at Quad Seal Holdings LLC, Staybright Electric, Tuesday Morning and The Storage Works. He also had been a loan officer for the Small Business Administration and director of visitor services for the Dallas Zoological Society. He was active in his church and loved spending time with his family.

Visitation is from 5 to 8 p.m., with a rosary at 7 p.m., July 20 at Rolling Oaks Funeral Home, 400 Freeport Parkway in Coppell. The funeral is at 2 p.m. July 21 at St. Ann Catholic Parish, 180 Samuel Blvd. in Coppell.

Philece Sampler

Philece Sampler (’75), North Hills, California. She appeared as a regular on such TV shows as Another World, Days of Our Lives and Rituals, and guest starred on shows such as B.J. and the Bear, Fantasy Island and The Incredible Hulk. She also did voiceover work for animated series. Her acting career took shape at North Texas, where she was a 1974 Yucca Beauty and acted in productions for The Rehearsal, The Greatest Glory, Crown Matrimonial and The Spiral Staircase.

Leroy Whitaker

Photo of Leroy WhitakerLeroy Whitaker (50, 52 M.S.), 91, of Dallas, a chemist who was a member of the McConnell Society for endowing The Dr. Leroy Whitaker Scholarship, died June 14.

Dr. Whitaker earned his Ph.D. in organic chemistry at the University of Illinois, then worked as a research chemist for Shell Chemical Company and Jefferson Chemical Company. In 1963, he became a patent agent and earned his law degree at the University of Houston.

He worked as a patent attorney for Eli Lilly and Company in Indiana in 1967, serving the company in various positions and retiring in 1993 as head of the patent department. He then served as a consultant and patent law expert.

An advisory board member for UNT’s Department of Chemistry, he also chaired a fundraising committee to endow a chair, and for the former College of Arts and Sciences, where he spearheaded a university-wide capital campaign. He received the UNT Distinguished Alumni Award in 2015 and the Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 2001.

He was active in his church and other organizations and was the public representative of the Executive Committee of the Market Association Program of the Texas Department of Insurance.

The visitation is scheduled for 10 a.m. and the funeral at 11 a.m. on Friday, June 18, at the Evergreen Cemetery Open Air Chapel in Paris, Texas. Mean Green casual attire is encouraged.

Reg Westmoreland

Photo of Reg WestmorelandReg Westmoreland (’47, ’56 M.A.), 94, of Denton, Professor Emeritus of journalism and former head of the journalism department who steered national accreditation for the department, died May 15.

He earned his doctorate from the University of Missouri. He was a reporter and editor for the Dallas Times-Herald and taught at Abilene Christian University. He worked at UNT from 1964 to 1994, with a two-year break in which he served as associate dean at Pepperdine University from 1983 to 1985.

Reg served as director of news and publications at UNT for two years, then taught full-time. He helped establish the journalism graduate program and served as chair of the journalism department from 1974 to 1988. The department became the only school in the state with a nationally accredited professional master’s program. He was active in many journalism organizations, serving as a Southern Fund Fellow and president of several groups, including the Texas Journalism Education Council, the American Society of Journalism School Administrators, and the Association of Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication.

In his free time, he enjoyed gardening and reading, and he was known for his generosity and fun personality.

A Celebration of Life service is scheduled at 10 a.m. July 6 at Denton Bible Church.

Gene Qualls

Photo of Gene Qualls Gene Qualls, 84, a longtime clerk in the Registrar’s office who worked at UNT from 1979 to 2003, died April 29 in Denton. He was active in his church and a friend of Pat Boone, whom he met while attending North Texas in the 1950s. Gene was known for sporting his 1967 Impala around town and wearing bright suits and ties. He made friends everywhere he went.

Robert McReynolds Golladay II

Picture of Robert McReynolds Golladay IIRobert McReynolds Golladay II (’66), 77, of Murphy, who served as an assistant professor of business computer information systems for 38 years, died in Richardson on April 18. He earned a bachelor’s degree in math from North Texas in 1966 and went on to receive his master’s degree in computer science from Texas A&M University. He joined UNT’s business faculty in the late ’60s, retiring from the Department of Information Technology and Decision Sciences four decades later. In his free time, he enjoyed spending time with his family and working with computers and technology.

Eugene “Gene” Patrick Wright

Photo of Eugene “Gene” Patrick Wright Eugene “Gene” Patrick Wright (’60, ’61 M.A.), 85, Professor Emeritus of English, died April 30 in Frisco. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. As a student, he was a member of Phi Beta Delta and Phi Kappa Phi. He earned his doctorate in English Renaissance literature from the University of Texas and taught at Lamar University and UT before working at North Texas from 1966 to 2006. He was appointed the first faculty ombudsman in 2005, received the Mortar Board Senior Honor society’s “Top Prof” award and served as commencement speaker at two graduation ceremonies. He published scholarly books on Joanna Southcott, Thomas Deloney and William Shakespeare, as well as a series of Jerry Valdez novels, including Run, Run As Fast As You Can; Nobody Knows His Name; The Painful Warrior; The Accidental Warrior; Patriots and Statesmen; and Pirates, Preachers and Poteen Makers.

Roxana Bejarano Hughes

Photo of Roxana Hughes

Roxana Bejarano Hughes (’97 M.S.), 57, an instructional lab supervisor in UNT's biology department, died April 25 in Denton. A native of Bolivia, she earned her bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from the Federal University of Rio Grande in Brazil. She then trained as a medical microbiologist in Argentina and worked in Bolivia. She earned her master’s under the late G. Roland Vela at UNT, where she researched the distribution of the bacterium Vela discovered. She remembered fondly how he and other professors came to her house so she could defend her thesis while pregnant and on bed rest. She was certified as a medical laboratory scientist in microbiology at Tarleton State University and maintained her certification over the years. She also worked for the Centers for Disease Control. She had worked in UNT’s biology department since 2002, where she loved working with her students and teaching assistants. She co-wrote the book Microorganisms: A Laboratory Manual with her husband, Lee Hughes (’87, ’93 M.S., ’98 Ph.D.), associate professor of biological sciences, and attended or presented at the American Society for Microbiology conference each year. She loved good food, good company and traveling. Her greatest joys were her two sons, Drake (’20) and Diego, a student at UNT.

Burlyce Logan

Photo of Burlyce Logan in the hallway of the Hurley Administration BuildingBurlyce Logan (’11), Denton. She was one of the first Black students who attended North Texas when it desegregated in 1956, and then dropped out – but returned and earned her bachelor’s degree in applied arts and sciences at age 73. When she first attended North Texas, Logan enjoyed her music classes but left after two years because of the harsh prejudice from other students. She moved to California and Oregon, where she worked as a banker and secretary, before returning to Denton in 1996. She worked in various places, including as an administrative assistant in the internal audit department at UNT from 2001 to 2002. Read more about her life in these 2011 articles from The New York Times and the North Texan. A funeral service will take place at Peoples Funeral Home at 2:30 p.m. April 30 in Denton.

Larry McMurtry

Larry McMurtry (’58), 84, an award-winning novelist and screenwriter, died March 25 at his home in Archer City.

One of America’s best-known authors of Western fiction, including contemporary Texas, McMurtry wrote more than 30 novels, as well as essay collections, memoirs, histories and screenplays. In 1961, he published his first book, Horseman Pass By, which became the movie Hud. One of his most famous works, Lonesome Dove, which he wrote in 1985, depicts two retired Texas Rangers cattle-driving a stolen herd from the Rio Grande to Montana in the 1870s. It won a Pulitzer Prize in 1986 and the story later was adapted into a TV mini-series.

Other bestsellers include The Last Picture Show and Terms of Endearment, which also were adapted into Oscar-winning films. He co-wrote the Brokeback Mountain screenplay, for which he shared a Golden Globe and an Oscar in 2006.

In 2014, he received the National Humanities Medal and was honored at the White House. The award recognizes those whose work has deepened the nation's engagement in the humanities.

A native of Archer City, McMurtry entered Rice University and later transferred to North Texas where he earned his degree in English and wrote for Avesta.

"The school attracted young professors who were intellectually stimulating and sparked their students," he said when accepting his Distinguished Alumnus Award on campus in 1986. "Their professional talent opened up the world of literature to me, and they encouraged me to write."

It was also in college that he discovered a huge world of books. He compared the universities’ libraries to the unsettled West in his fourth book, In A Narrow Grave: Essays on Texas. The libraries, he wrote, were “countries as vast, as promising, and, so far as I knew, as trackless as the West must have seemed to the first white men who looked upon it.”

McMurtry owned bookstores in Washington, D.C., Houston, Dallas and Tucson, Arizona. His last remaining store, Booked Up, located in Archer City, is one of the largest bookstores in the country, once six buildings wide and housing around 400,000 volumes. His private library housed 30,000 books contained in three houses.

Through the years, he and the bookstore were associated with UNT’s Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism’s Archer City Writers Workshop – writers he would invite to meet with him at his home or at the store.

"Larry McMurtry believed 'books are the fuel of genius,' and his beautifully crafted novels and screenplays illustrate his creative genius,” UNT President Neal Smatresk says. “We are forever proud of his work as a UNT alumnus."

Larry McMurtry wears a blue shirt and stands in front of rows of bookshelves.

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