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President’s son, active laywoman receive SWBTS B.H. Carroll Awards

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–A Texas rancher and the son of a president have been awarded the highest honor given by the school they and their families love so much.

Kelly Dan and Marianne Williams of La Porte, Texas, and Winnie Mae Bell of Laredo, Texas, received the B.H. Carroll Award from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary during a luncheon March 9 at the Fort Worth, Texas, campus.

The award, begun in 1982, is given annually to people “who have played a significant role in the total ministry of Southwestern Seminary,” Southwestern President Kenneth S. Hemphill said at the luncheon.

“I consider this award a much higher award [than an honorary degree],” he added.

Williams, a retired lawyer, is the son of J. Howard Williams, the fourth president of Southwestern. He grew up on Seminary Hill until his father died in 1958. His mother and her second husband, Ted L. Ferguson, were named B.H. Carroll Award recipients the first year the award was granted. His oldest daughter and her husband attended Southwestern and are members of the Presidents Club, the seminary’s largest financial supporters.

“It’s a meaningful award for me, because all my life I’ve been coming to the seminary from the time I was a little bitty boy,” Williams said. “I’ve seen it grow from a wind-swept dry, brown hill into the beautiful campus that it is now.”

Part of the beauty is the J. Howard and Floy K. Williams Campus Mall, which resulted from a gift the Williamses made to Southwestern. The mall was designed by Williams’ son, John, an aquatic architect, and includes a waterfall, two fishponds and a gazebo.

Williams and his wife have supported the school in many ways throughout the years, including serving on the Southwestern Advisory Council, a group of Baptist laypeople and business leaders who offer advice and support to the seminary.

“I’m just so proud to know what the seminary is doing all over the world,” Williams said. “What a thrill to be a part of generations’ worth of progress at the seminary.”

Bell and her late husband, William, owned cattle ranches and other real estate in Texas and Montana. They were also involved laypeople, and she has also been a strong supporter of Hispanic church work.

“They just loved the Lord and loved his church,” said Jack Terry, Southwestern vice president for institutional advancement. “Her desire is to see our campus in San Antonio become the seminary for the training of Hispanic pastors throughout the southern part of Texas,” he noted.

In addition to supporting Southwestern, Bell has been the organist at First Baptist, Laredo, since 1946 and a contributor to Southern Baptist International Mission Board water well-drilling projects in Africa and Third World countries.

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  • Matt Sanders