Alumni

Sue Spratt Smith

Sue Spratt Smith (’53), Granbury :: She spent 31 years as an educator, teaching English Language Arts in Houston and Fort Worth ISDs and serving as program director for English Language Arts K-12 in Fort Worth. She received numerous honors, including the 1983 Outstanding Teacher of English by the Fort Worth Area Council of Teachers of English; a Certificate of Commendation for Outstanding Professional Performance by the Fort Worth Board of Education for her development of exemplary ELA K-12 curriculum guides, which also were recognized by the National Council of Teachers of English in 1989; and Services in the Promotion of Literacy by the Fort Worth Reading Council and the International Reading Association in 1990. She retired in 1993.

Jatis P. Dees

Jatis P. Dees (’53), Santa Anna :: She met her husband Eddie J. Dees, Sr. (’54), to whom she was married for 65 years, when they both were studying music at UNT. She was an accomplished pianist, and they played many gigs together while in the band The Eddie Dees Comb, throughout the 1960s. She earned her master’s in education degree from Texas Woman’s University, taught special education students and worked as an educational diagnostician until she retired at 78. All three of her children, Layle, Eddie Jr. and Lynne (’75, ’80 M.F.A.) attended UNT.

Joe Conrad

Joe Conrad (’53), San Antonio :: At North Texas, he played on the golf team that won four consecutive national championships from 1949 to 1952. He won the British Amateur Championship in 1955, becoming the only Texan to do so. He was a member of the United States’ Americas Cup team in 1954 and 1956. Conrad won both the Texas State Junior Championship and the Texas State Amateur Championship in 1951, and he finished in the top 20 during the 1957 Colonial National Invitation Tournament and the 1957 Masters. In the early 1960s, he opened the 19th Hole Golf Center in north San Antonio, where he shared his golfing passion with many people, retiring in 1988. In the 1990s, he played in senior tournaments. He has been inducted into the UNT Athletics Hall of Fame, Texas Golf Hall of Fame and San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame.

Jack Guerry

Jack Guerry (’52, ’55 M.M.), Baton Rouge :: He served on the faculty of Louisiana State University for more than 35 years. He worked under North Texas teacher Silvio Scionti and wrote the book Silvio Scionti: Remembering a Master Pianist and Teacher, which featured memories of Scionti’s spaghetti parties. Jack also edited Essays on Artistic Piano Playing, both published by UNT Press.

Ivan Davis (’52)

Ivan Davis (’52), Miami :: He was a world-famous classical pianist who won numerous international awards, earned raves from The New York Times for his New York debut performance and worked with Vladimir Horowitz after winning the Franz Liszt competition — all in his 20s. He had his own recording contract, performing with Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic. He taught at the University of Miami from 1966 to 2008. He was known for his parties where he boasted about eating burgers with opera singer Maria Callas and dating actress Ava Gardner.

Monte Hill Davis Alexander

Monte Hill Davis Alexander (’52, ’57 M.M.), Dallas :: A child prodigy on the piano, she moved from Nacogdoches to Denton at age 12 to work with teachers Silvio and Isabel Scionti and later earned her degrees at North Texas. She had a distinguished career as a concert pianist, traveling around the world and winning top prizes at piano competitions in the 1940s and 1950s in Dallas, Geneva, Munich, and Bolzano, Italy. She also taught piano at several Texas colleges.

Roy Appleton Jr.

Roy Appleton Jr. (’49), Denton :: He was the president and general manager of the Denton Record-Chronicle for 44 years before retiring in 1991. He was a prominent community leader, serving as president of Denton’s Rotary Club, Jaycees, the United Way, Chamber of Commerce and Greater Denton Industries. The Patterson-Appleton Arts Center in Denton bears his name. During World War II, he served 35 months in the South Pacific in the U.S. Marine Corps. He was part of the Iwo Jima invasion and fought in several battles, including Guadalcanal and Saipan. He was named a Distinguished Alumnus in 1989, and is a member of the G. Brint Ryan College of Business Hall of Fame.

Patricia “Pat” Price Lorance

Patricia “Pat” Price Lorance (’46), Stephenville :: She studied mathematics and English at North Texas, then attended the University of Texas at Austin School of Law. She taught math in Lubbock ISD from 1964 to 1991. During retirement, she played bridge, was active in her book club and doted on her grandchildren.

Nicholas D. Ricco Sr.

Nicholas D. Ricco Sr. (’61), 86, a longtime supporter of UNT, died May 4 in Plano.

He was a military veteran with 24 years of service, first with the U.S. Army National Guard in New York and then with the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy. He was an Air Force navigator-bombardier and an instructor of pilots and navigators before entering North Texas in 1959, where he studied banking and accounting while continuing to fly with the U.S. Air Force Reserve. He earned his business degree in 1961. After the U.S. Navy recruited him in 1963 for his aviation skills, he became the first non-pilot in the Navy and Navy Reserve to be appointed as executive officer and commanding officer of naval flying squadrons. He retired from the Navy Reserve as a commander in 1974.

Simultaneously, he built a successful career in the insurance, real estate and finance businesses, developing the largest personally owned insurance agency in Texas and building and acquiring 45 buildings and other properties between 1971 and 2003. He was the president of Ricco Properties and general partner of Ricco Family Partners Ltd.

He returned to UNT in 1999 to pursue graduate studies in journalism. A recipient of the Green Glory Award in 2003 and the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2007, he was a major supporter of the university. He served on advisory boards and contributed to the College of Music, the Mayborn School of Journalism and the G. Brint Ryan College of Business, where he is a member of the Hall of Fame. He also contributed to Emerald Eagle Honors and other programs, and was among the first financial supporters of the Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference. With his wife, Anna, he mentored hundreds of UNT students through the years, was a member of the McConnell Society and created UNT’s Ricco Ethics Scholarship competition in 2011. In 2015, he was awarded the prestigious Mayborn Medallion for his commitment to his alma mater. The Cmdr. Nicholas and Anna Ricco Music Dean’s Suite was dedicated in 2018.

Visitation is from 6 to 8 p.m. May 8 at Rhoton Funeral Home, 1511 S. Interstate 35E, in Carrollton. Interment will be at 10 a.m. May 9 at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery, 2000 Mountain Creek Parkway in Dallas, followed by a memorial service at 2 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Carrollton, 2400 N. Josey Lane. Memorials may be made to the National Kidney Foundation or to any campus in the UNT System.

Don Buchholz

Don Buchholz (’52), 90, a longtime UNT supporter and former member of the UNT System Board of Regents, died April 30 in Dallas.

He served in the U.S. Air Force and attended North Texas thanks to the GI Bill. After Buchholz graduated from North Texas, he worked in several accounting firms before co-founding Southwest Securities, now known as Hilltop Holdings, an investment banking and banking services provider. He retired in 2011 after a career marked by innovation, with positions including Southwest Securities’ CEO and president, governor of the New York Stock Exchange, and board member for the Securities Industry Association, National Association of Securities Dealers, and the Texas Stock and Bond Dealers Association.

He served on the UNT System Board of Regents from 2007 to 2013 as the system experienced record growth. He also was a member of the UNT Foundation Board of Directors, the College of Business Advisory Board, the Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship Advisory Board and The Campaign for UNT Executive and Steering Committees. He and his wife, Ruth, were members of UNT’s 1890 Society, McConnell Society and Diamond Eagles Society, and made numerous significant gifts for research, education and scholarship to benefit students, especially those in the field of education. 

They established the Bill J. Priest Center for Community College Education, a research center studying critical community college issues and developing future community college leaders. They also established the Southwest Securities Superintendent Certification Scholarship, the Mike Moses Endowed Chair in Educational Leadership, the Donald A. Buchholz Doctoral Program in Educational Administration Scholarship, and gave to the G. Brint Ryan College of Business, Athletics and Emerald Eagles Scholars.  

Buchholz received numerous awards from UNT, including the Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 1999, the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2001 and an honorary doctorate in 2015.

A memorial service will take place from 2 to 2:45 p.m. May 6 at Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas, with a reception following. Memorials gifts may be made for the Bill J. Priest Fund by mailing to the University of North Texas, University Advancement, 1155 Union Circle #311250, Denton, Texas 76203.

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