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Dodson gift renames PJC lecture halls

Published or Revised July 01, 2015

Dodson dedication

At top, a group of family, friends, and PJC administration, faculty, Regents, and staff listen to remarks from Dr. Ronald Dodson during the dedication of the Benjamin F. and Vera I. Dodson Lecture Halls in the Paris Junior College Math and Science Building. Below, members of the Dodson family pose in front of the Benjamin F. and Vera I. Dodson Lecture Halls. From left are Erin Ditges, Joe Ditges, Diana Ditges, Debra Hurbough, Colton Hurbough, David Hurbough, Benjamin Hurbough, Dr. Ronald Dodson and Sandy Dodson.

The Paris Junior College Math and Science Building has newly named lecture halls, thanks to a generous gift from Dr. & Mrs. Ronald F. Dodson. The dedication of the Benjamin F. & Vera I Dodson Lecture Halls was held recently, along with a reception to honor the Dodson’s and their family and friends.

Benjamin F. Dodson, Jr. was born Aug. 13, 1912, the son of Ben F. and Bessie Mae Steward Dodson in Hillsboro. He passed away April 7, 2002. He graduated from Paris High School and attended Paris Junior College in 1933, marrying Vera Inez Eubank on July 30, 1935. She was born on Sept. 27, 1915, the daughter of Bessie Harris and Melvin Eubank in Paris. She passed away Sept. 12, 2010, in Tyler.

The Dodson’s owned and managed the Royal Crown-7 Up Bottling Company in Paris for many years, with Mrs. Dodson serving as office manager. Mr. Dodson also served in the U.S. Navy Seabees First Marine Division during World War II. The couple celebrated 67 years of marriage.

After a brief welcome by PJC President Dr. Pamela Anglin, Dodson spoke of his parents’ dedication to education and how his father attended PJC despite the Great Depression. In his turn, he also attended PJC, graduating in 1962. He received his B.A. and his M.A. in biology and chemistry from East Texas State University. Receiving his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University with an emphasis in biological electron microscopy, he went on to postdoctoral studies at the University of Texas Health Center at San Antonio.

Dodson was then appointed to the faculty of Baylor College of Medicine, serving seven years before leaving for the University of Texas Health Center in Tyler to begin a formal research program, going on to hold several positions, including Vice President for Research. In addition to his long career in academia, Dodson was also a member of the Asbestos Advisory Committee of the Texas Department of Health (now DSHS) that wrote the state regulations governing asbestos in public buildings for Texas and holds a license as an Inspector/Manager Planner and Supervisor/Contractor (restricted) through DSHS.

Retiring in 2005 from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Tyler, Dodson now serves as president of Dodson Environmental Consulting, Inc. and as a Senior Consultant for ERI Consulting, Inc.

Praising the teachers he had and the opportunity for education at PJC, Dodson said the experience helped him become more mature, “which was needed.”

To much laughter, he said an older student told him to apply himself and praised all the teachers – with one exception. When registering, he found all the other sections filled and became the student of the teacher he was warned of. Dodson interrupted his narrative to say he found himself speaking a few months ago to a group of freshmen in the sciences during orientation, where he discussed the merits of a bachelor’s degree in science.

“I explained to them that there were several factors that contributed to my attainment of an advanced degree in the sciences and they started at the junior college,” Dr. Dodson said. “At that time you had to have reading comprehension in two foreign languages and the sciences. It was at that point that I gave a deep deal of thanks to what Dr. McLemore taught me. He was the president of PJC and taught French. I retained enough that I was able to pass and waive one of those foreign language requirements.”

Dodson said that Dr. McLemore’s teaching was very inspirational and he was a wonderful man who cared about every student.

“Which brings me back to the teacher I was attempting to dodge,” Dodson said. “This lady, Mrs. Myra Fuller, was tough as a boot, dressed in her riding attire, and intense about teaching English. About the third week something clicked, and she began to convey to me I could either read and regurgitate and do reasonably well on a test or, I could look at what people had written, including the masters, and say ‘hey, these guys are saying something other than what is obvious.’ The lesson that she instilled in me was deductive logic. What she taught me was thinking deeper than what was obvious.

“Paris Junior College means a lot to me, meant a lot to my parents and we were honored that we had the opportunity through your president and your board to have a naming chance to recognize my folks who were very strong advocates of higher education and Paris Junior College. Thank you.”

PJC Board of Regents president Curtis Fendley thanked the Dodson’s for their generosity, saying, “Your donation will touch thousands of lives. We hope that others will follow in your footsteps and allow our students to attain their dreams.”

Dodson and his wife, Sandy, are the proud parents of two daughters, Diana Ditges and husband Joe Ditges, and Debra Hurbough and husband David Hurbough; and grandchildren Lauren, Erin, Benjamin and Colton, nearly all of whom were present. Family friends Dr. and Mrs. Richard Swint and Beatrice Herring also attended the reception.

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