Twelve Aggies have been selected as the 2020 recipients of the Distinguished Alumnus Award, the highest honor bestowed upon a former student by Texas A&M University and The Association of Former Students.
The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences celebrates the late C.M. Cocanougher, DVM ’53 and Lt. Gen. Randolph House ’67 as they have embodied the true Aggie spirit far beyond their time on campus.
“We are proud of these wonderful former students and all of their accomplishments and contributions,” said Texas A&M University President Michael K. Young. “They are all deserving of the highest honor bestowed upon our alumni. We look forward to joining The Association in recognizing their achievements.”
Since the inception of the award in 1962, only 303 of Texas A&M’s 527,000 former students have been recognized with the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Awarded jointly by Texas A&M and The Association of Former Students, this honor recognizes those Aggies who have achieved excellence in their chosen professions and made meaningful contributions to Texas A&M University and their local communities.
“It is an honor to celebrate our former students with all of Texas A&M University. Their leadership and selfless service are true sentiments of the Aggie spirit,” said Patrick J. Stover, Ph.D., vice chancellor of Texas A&M AgriLife, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research. “Their contributions and mentorship have provided opportunity for many and merit the highest honors.”
Department of Animal Science
After graduating from the Department of Animal Science, Cocanougher built a successful veterinary practice in Wise County and served as a Decatur City Council member and civic leader who helped draw employment to the area, supported the hospital system and gave decades of scholarships to high school and Texas A&M students. He and wife Jo Ann endowed 10 Texas A&M veterinary school scholarships.
He was named an Outstanding Alumnus of Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and 1985’s Citizen of the Year in Decatur. He served in the U.S. Air Force as a captain and base veterinarian. He served as president and rodeo secretary of the Wise County Sheriff’s Posse, president of the Decatur Chamber of Commerce, officer of the Decatur Rotary Club and charter member and chairman of the Wise County American Heart Association chapter. He also served on the Texas Veterinary Medical Association board of directors.
Department of Agricultural Economics
House was a U.S. Army officer for over 32 years, commanding in peace time and during war at every level from rifle platoon leader to deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Command. He has served since 2003 on the board and as president of the Brazos Valley Veterans Memorial and is a mentor to the Texas A&M student organization Student Conference on National Affairs. He has served on the board of visitors for the Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government and Public Service and for Texas A&M University at Galveston.
His awards for valor include the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Silver Star, the Soldier’s Medal, four Distinguished Flying Crosses, 32 Air Medals and four Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry. He was inducted in 2001 as a “Legend of Aggieland” and is a member of the Corps of Cadets Hall of Honor and the Tyrus R. Timm Honor Registry in the Texas A&M University Department of Agricultural Economics.
The recipients learned of their honor via surprise announcements from Texas A&M and Association representatives, including Young; Cathy Mann ’92, The Association’s 2020 board chair; Porter Garner III ‘79, association president and CEO; Tyson Voelkel ’96, Texas A&M Foundation president; Travis Dabne ’96, 12th Man Foundation president; and a Ross volunteer.
“Our 2020 Distinguished Alumni lead and excel in a wide array of career fields,” Mann said. “While their experiences span diverse career fields, they each consistently embody our core values of excellence, integrity, leadership, loyalty, respect and selfless service and represent the Aggie Network with distinction.”
Garner echoed the sentiments of Young and Mann and offered his congratulations on behalf of The Association of Former Students.
“The Distinguished Alumnus Award is the highest honor bestowed upon a former student of Texas A&M,” he said. “Those we honor in 2020 are in elite company, with fewer than one-tenth of 1% of our 527,000 former students recognized with this prestigious award.”
The Association of Former Students is honoring the 2020 recipients in the July-August issue of its Texas Aggie magazine.
Other Distinguished Alumnus Award winners are:
- Weldon Jaynes ’54 of Arlington.
- R. Sam Torn ’70 of Houston.
- John D. White ’70 of College Station.
- R. Bowen Loftin, Ph.D., ’71 of Bryan.
- Carol E. Jordan ’80 of Lexington, Kentucky.
- Willie T. Langston II ’81 of Houston.
- Tim Leach ’82 of Midland.
- Thomas J. Saylak ’82 of Scarsdale, New York.
- Mike Hernandez III ’83 of Fort Worth.
- Charean Williams ’86 of Arlington.
Nominations for the 2021 Distinguished Alumnus Award will be accepted through Oct. 2.
This article was originally published by The Association of Former Students.