Author Archive

Tom Fenske (’76, ’77)

I saw this picture in the Spring 2018 University of Houston Magazine. Wow, what a flash from the past. I see from the banner that this dates from the campaign days of 1976. I could so easily be in this picture as during those years I went up and down those stairs countless times. I was even grabbed by a Secret Service agent on the bottom of the stair case on the left when I attempted the go up the stairs while President Ford’s son was getting ready to speak on the upper landing during the 1976 campaign.
I got nostalgic seeing this picture because I have very deep roots to this building and most of my experiences there went way beyond just being a student. For over two years I was employed there with two different jobs. At that time the building comprised of two sections, the three story primary structure (well, basement and two upper levels) and an adjacent one story underground structure. Just behind and below those stairs is where the entrance tunnel to the underground section was. My first job was in an office down there and I was heading to class from work when the Secret Service grabbed me.
I worked for what was then called the “Campus Activities Department” and they provided support and advisors for all on-campus organizations like clubs, honor societies, student government, campus programming, fraternities, and sororities. This service center took up the major portion of the underground portion of the building. One of the services was called the Organization’s Bank, and it allowed qualified groups from all aspects of campus life to have an “account” for their treasuries, all managed through a central Campus Activites bank account. I first encountered this when I volunteered in the campus programming board, then called Program Council. The woman who ran this bank was very friendly and pleasant so I’d drop by and visit from time to time just to say “Hi.”
In early 1975 she needed a new assistant and offered me the part-time office job. It was convenient working on-campus and it helped draw me into the mainstream of virtually all of campus life. This was long before mass computerization so all the transactions were handled manually via an even-then ancient Burroughs automatic posting machine with individual ledger cards for each account. Young people are always amazed that we were able to use tools such as this in those pre-computer days but the machines and the procedures worked quite well. I worked there for over a year and quite enjoyed my time there. The office was down a back hallway and I was working once when a fire occurred in one of the maintenance closets on the far edge of the building. They evacuated both buildings as a precaution and that office was so out of the way, I was found happily working away by someone making a last pass through the building. It was news to me. Of course, they had suppressed the alarms. So much for fire drills, right?
I could have worked in that office for another year until graduation, but through contacts in the building I became aware of a job in the maintenance department of the same building, as a student assistant to the building mechanics. Office work was okay, but this job provided the opportunity for more hours and an even more flexible schedule. My hours were quite limited in the office job but in this role, I could work evenings and even weekends and pretty much set my own schedule. There was *always* something to do. Some weeks I could almost work full-time if the evening mechanic was sick. On a student economy, more hours was always a plus.
This job was great, and because of it I eventually came to know almost every inch of the building complex. I’m talking every office, every mechanical room, every deep dark cranny, even disgusting places you don’t want to know exist. Those steps in the picture? I painted those once, with a non-skid coating. I regularly had to go onto the roof of the building too. One of the main duties was to go on rounds and make sure there were no problems like squeaky belts or grinding motor bearings (remember that fire I mentioned). Once, while working over the holidays, I found a large amount of water pooling in the corridor between the main building and the underground offices and checked outside on the ground above that corridor. It was obviously a major water main leak. University repair crews had to be called in for an emergency repair even though it was Christmas Day.
The building was extensively renovated a few years ago and I’m sure when they were doing that, they found my scrawl on any of the older breaker boxes that had survived 35+ years in the building. Once, some electricians were working in the ceiling above a dining room of what was called the old Cougar Den on the bottom level. The workers found they needed to flip an unmarked breaker and this unfortunately cut power to the cash registers in the main dining area one floor above. This happened in the middle of the lunch rush. Nobody realized that during some past construction work power had been tapped below the floor to a circuit in the Cougar Den to facilitate installation of new outlets for a cash register station that had no other access to power. It took a frustratingly long time to locate the problem because no one thought to relate the work on the lower floor to this problem. After that, another student worker and I spent a weekend mapping all the breakers in the building.
That particular work came in handy too because not long afterwards, we had been called in to help the short-staffed custodial group to do a rather large banquet reset in the third level ballroom late one Saturday night. When we were almost done I was in the hallway outside the ballroom and detected a faint whiff of burned tar, which I knew was most likely the tell-tale odor of a fluorescent light ballast shorting out.
Sure enough, a quick survey discovered a nearby display case just beginning to fill with smoke. We immediately ran to shut off power at one of the recently audited breaker-boxes down the hall. My boss found a key to the case, which was thankfully almost empty and I removed the bulbs which rendered that fixture totally inoperative. I replaced the ballast the next Monday morning and found it had suffered primary short that had already burned a hole in the ballast case (sometimes they just get hot and stop working) — this would have definitely continued into a bad fire and would have caused a lot of damage. It was just pure luck we were there (hey, it was a chance to grab a couple of extra hours pay, right?) and we knew the smell and immediately went hunting for the source. A hot ballast can not be ignored.
Ah the anonymous life of the Unsung Heroes.
I checked every maintenance closet and machine room every day I worked, mostly for just that sort of thing. Problems were always cropping up on equipment that ran 24/7 (I return again to the fire, even though that pre-dated my maintenance work). I had other regular duties too, for instance I changed all the air filters in the building every month or so. I also changed uncounted numbers of light bulbs in every section of that building. To this day I still find myself instinctively scanning ceilings in big buildings and secretly noting the lights that are burned out. I worked on plumbing repairs, helped with repair work on the food service equipment, and was involved in really unusual stuff too.
Once, one of the sewage sump pumps (one of those disgusting areas I mentioned earlier) jammed and bent the long drive shaft. It needed to be machined but most machine shops around the area could not handle a shaft that long; it was at least ten feet. Somehow my boss heard about a super machine shop in the Physics Department, which even back in 1977 was an amazing facility. We both carried this disgusting, mumblemumble-encrusted hunk of metal by hand far across campus to that shop in one of the science buildings and they machined it. It barely fit in the service elevator, which opened directly into the machine shop floor.
The curious thing about working in that building was that, as it turned out, both jobs were unplanned extensions to my education. The office and bookkeeping skills I learned in the Organization’s Bank were a huge help in every job I held later. Note: computer business processes were all built on the models of the tried and true manual process. In he next job, by doing the varied maintenance work I gained invaluable on the job experience in electrical, plumbing, and carpentry repair. These are things I still use to this day.
The other great part about the maintenance job was that it was a blast most of the time. The two senior mechanics were WWII veterans, one was a marine in the pacific and the other one had been with the Flying Tigers and was later a B29 mechanic in India, working on the bombers that flew over the Himalayas, so the stories I heard were personal and insightful. Truly they were part of the greatest generation. Once that B29 mechanic and I had to make a long excursion across campus in the underground tunnels that snake under most campuses. (Maybe I’ll share that story another time.)
I had other duties too. I served as projectionist for campus-run movies and there were times I ran the sound and lights in the ballroom for dances and other events held there. As I previously said, there were also times we helped out the custodial staff for banquet setups.
Neither one of these jobs were college “work-study” positions, they were considered regular employment; part-time jobs that added to my seniority when I later held a position at another state institution. But just like any work-study job, it was a great convenience to work on campus.
Heck, I even had a master key to the building, something I needed to use while doing my general rounds. Even custodial staff with many years employment there didn’t have a master key. If I had to work on Saturday/Sunday mornings, I had to be on-time because I was the guy with the key!
Who knew what a flood of memories would come from that simple picture.
Thomas Fenske is a writer living in North Carolina. He’d like to say he was a product of the famed writing program at the University of Houston but sadly, that program came into existence the year after he graduated. Missed it by *that* much.

Clyde Elton Sloan, Jr. (’68)

Clyde Elton Sloan, Jr
11/04/1943 – 08/27/2022
Clyde Elton Sloan, Jr. passed away peacefully at home on August 27, 2022 and went to be with the Lord. Clyde was born on November 4, 1943 in Houston, Texas, but lived most of his youth in Baytown, TX. After graduating from Robert E. Lee High School (class of 1962), he went on to study business at the University of Texas and then transferred to the University of Houston where he graduated in 1968. Clyde met his wife Lee Etta at the University Religion Center and they married in 1968. After graduation, he went to work for Allstate and had a successful 32-year career as an agent until he retired in 2000 and sold his agency to his son.
Clyde was predeceased by his parents, Clyde and Catherine Sloan and is survived by his wife of 53 years, Lee Etta; brother William Sloan; son Warren Sloan and fiancé Micah Stewart; daughter Martha Sloan Salas and son-in-law Ruben Salas; and six grandchildren, Christian, Samuel and Abigail Salas and Alexander, Megan and James Sloan.
Clyde loved his family, church and community. He served as a Scout Master, coach, mentor, precinct judge and was an active church member. Clyde served on his high school reunion committee, the UH Bauer College of Business Alumni Association and the board of the Cougar Cookers HLSR cook-off team. Clyde never missed a UH football game or his grandchildren’s activities and he always lent a helping hand to friends and neighbors.
Clyde’s family would like to thank the doctors and care teams at MD Anderson, Houston Cardiac Clinic and Houston Hospice for their excellent care. A service will be held for Clyde on Saturday September 3rd at 10:30 AM at Holy Spirit Episcopal Church, 12535 Perthshire, Houston, TX 77024. A more complete obituary can be found at
Published by Houston Chronicle on Sep. 2, 2022.

Cindy (’86) and Todd (UHD ’89) Breton

Cindy and Todd Breton met at UH in 1985 and were married in 1987. Cindy graduated in 1986 with a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management and Todd graduated 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in business. The Bretons are football season ticket holders and proud Life Members. Todd has served as Sugar Land Rotary Past President and is currently the Assistant Governor for Rotary District 5890.

Jake Morris (MS ’09)

Houston, TX (September 8, 2022) – Jake Morris, WP Edge Senior Manager, has joined the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Big Climb Houston Executive Committee.

The Big Climb is a fundraising challenge where participants climb the stairs of an iconic building in their local community in order to raise critical funds for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). The mission of LLS is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and to improve the quality of life of patients and their families.

“Giving back to the Houston community is something we are passionate about at Whitley Penn,” stated Audit Partner and Partner-in-Charge of the Houston office, Nathen McEown. “Jake’s dedication and involvement with the mission of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society demonstrates his devotion to the cause. We are proud of him and support him as he steps into this role and are looking forward to watching him succeed.”

Morris has more than 12 years of experience in the accounting industry, including six in public accounting and four as a controller. He has fine-tuned his accounting knowledge throughout his career by focusing on personnel/department management and leadership, banking relationships, month-end procedures and reconciliations, financial statement presentation and analysis, budgeting/forecasting, evaluation of financial ratios, debt compliance, and development/analysis of financial reports. Morris excels at improving client relationships and is a highly skilled communicator who strives for maximum transparency between his team and the people they serve.

Before joining Whitley Penn, Morris served as an audit manager and then as a controller. In his role as an audit manager, he led audit teams in performing risk-based financial statement audits for public and private corporations, as well as employee benefit plan audits. Working as a controller, Morris leads an accounting department of 12 people while also managing executive expectations to allow for a smooth and efficient operation of the accounting and finance functions at the firm.

Morris is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants (TXCPA).

Morris received his B.B.A. in Accounting from Baylor University and his M.S. in Accountancy from the University of Houston.

Kathy (’79) and Larry (’72) McClaugherty

Kathy and Larry McClaugherty organized a gathering for the Hill Country Houston Cougars on Saturday, August 6 at the Camp Verde Restaurant and General Store in Camp Verde, Texas.

Those in attendance were: Michael & Laura Urbis, Alene & Chris Kirklen, Ford & Sharon Smith, Jo & Dewayne Neal and Larry & Kathy McClaugherty. Everyone had a great meal & great fellowship. The group is looking forward to a date, place and time for September’s gathering to get Cougars together to visit and support each other.

Philip John Huber (’80)

Philip John Huber was born March 9, 1958, to Patrick Wendell and Molly Ruth Huber (deceased), in Roswell, New Mexico. Phil was the youngest of three children born to the Hubers. Mary Faith Huber (deceased) and Judith A. Johnson were Phil’s older sisters. Peter L. Martinez was an adopted brother, that the Hubers adopted via Operation Peter Pan in the early 60s. Peter lived with The Hubers until his mother could be brought into our country from Cuba.
Phil attended Midland High School and Stratford High School. He participated in Band and was part of the cheerleading squad. He also worked with the school’s year book, and played basketball and football. Phil graduated from Stratford High in Houston Texas in 1976. He attended The University of Houston and studied Radio/TV/Film. Phil graduated in 1980 from The University of Houston.
Phil’s preparedness and willingness to go the extra mile helped him score the biggest news story of the day while working as a news photographer in Midland Texas, when Baby Jessica McClure fell down the well in Midland Texas, October 14, 1987. His microphone, duct tape, and a XLR cable coupled with his news camera helped determine if the child was still alive. Over the next 56 hours people came from all over to work their way down 22 feet and retrieve the 18-month-old child. His feed of the event went out over the wire nationally and around the world. For 56 hours the world hung onto every second of Phil’s footage captured during the rescue.
Phil spent most of his adult life traveling the country picking up stories and sharing them with others. He worked in the electronic news gathering business for many years, working with news organizations, in both Midland, Texas and Mobile, Alabama. He earned his title, “Lens Mule” by covering fires, hurricanes, crashes, and dignitaries, always capturing the moment of the day and recording it for others to see.
He opened his own production house and produced several local and nationally distributed programs. Programs like Tuesday Night Thunder, Gulf Coast Spotlight on local access, then Southern Experience, Arca Racing this Week, The American Rifleman, and Circle of Honor distributed nationally via The Outdoor Channel. He was also a freelance shooter and worked with companies, shooting racing, fishing, football, and all kind of other creative gigs. He was a natural-born storyteller. A storyteller with a heart as big as Texas and a creative streak a mile wide.
Phil and I met about 1993 or 1994. He had just left Channel 5 and was in full blown business-building mode with his new company, Parallax Productions. The journey we took together would cover the country and the latter part of Phil’s life. Along many of those trips, Phil began to teach me about his world. Together we put together an outreach program that allowed us to mentor to young men and women and teach them a marketable skill. The Odd Ducks came to be a force to be sought after in the production world. What started as idea on those long rides, has produced a lasting legacy that could continue decades from now.
Phil was a loving, caring, gentle soul; he wanted to help everyone. In fact, he made it his life’s mission to help others. His pay-it-forward philosophy became the motivation for his existence. He was known as “Dad” to at least 50 children who wore the ODB colors, but even before ODB, Phil had invested a lifetime in others’ educations and helping them to become their best selves.
Phil suffered his first stroke about twelve years ago. His nephew, Patrick Wihl, found him approximately three days after his stroke. Phil fought his way back to health but the storyteller had lost his voice. The stroke caused Phil to have a bad case of aphasia. Phil lost his business, his home, his ability to speak; he lost everything except his life and his friends.
He was fortunate to find Murray House. Murray House is where Phil lived the last twelve years of his life. While many would have been bitter and mad at the world, Phil made the best of his situation. He always made the best of bad situations throughout his career and after his career came crashing to a close, he continued to lead and help others. The examples he set were truly an inspiration to all who came to know him. His calm acceptance of the situation at hand helped others to see their way out of the forest.
Phil found a path to be creative again. He didn’t lose his framing, composition, or photographic abilities. He was never without his iPad nor the ability to snap a good photo or roll a few seconds of recording. He relearned how to tell the story without ever uttering a word. His pictures and his video told the story for him. He would see it for you. His vision of our world, even with his impaired abilities, shined through for all to see.
One last thing, Phil was a dog lover and his dogs loved him. His dogs were his best friends. He would always smile and say to me, “Unconditional love right there, that’s what really makes the world go around, unconditional love.” I have always been told that dogs are really good judges of character. I have to agree. Phil was one the good guys and our world will be a darker place without him in it.
He left behind a lasting legacy. A legacy whose story has yet to be written. Phil lived his life at 200 mph but he always had time to lend a helping hand and share a piece of timely advice or instruction. He worked at making other peoples lives better. We could all be more like Philip John Huber. He was a Lens Mule of the first order who saw the world through rose-colored glasses and he shared that vision with us all.
Philip John Huber passed in the morning of April 14, 2022.
He is survived by his sister, Judith Johnson, adopted brother, Peter L. Martinez an their extended families; his brothers and sisters of The Odd Duck Brotherhood; and a multitude of coworkers and friends.
May God grant Phil the welcome words: “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of the Lord.” He surely deserves it.
-A. Lee Abbett Sr.

Devika Kornbacher (’98)

Clifford Chance announced today that technology and intellectual property partner Devika Kornbacher will join its Global Technology Group in the United States. Kornbacher brings more than 15 years of experience in technology transactions, intellectual property, cybersecurity and data privacy.

Joining as Co-Chair of the Firm’s Tech Group alongside Jonathan Kewley (London) and Paul Landless (Singapore), Kornbacher will focus on advising clients on a wide variety of technology-related legal matters, including obtaining, protecting, licensing, and enforcing intellectual property rights, technology commercialization, data privacy compliance, and cybersecurity preparedness. She also has extensive experience across a wide array of transactions, including license agreements, procurement, supply, and distribution agreements, collaboration agreements, software development agreements and patent clearances.

Jonathan Kewley says, “The pandemic has accelerated the pace and scope of tech transactions, and cybersecurity and data privacy are now more critical than ever. Devika, with her deep knowledge of technology and the laws around these matters and her track record of excellence, will boost our focus on expanding our technology offerings in the US and globally.”

DC Office Managing Partner and a leader in the firm’s US Tech Group Megan Gordon adds, “Devika’s hiring realizes our ambition to grow our technology offerings in the US. Her deep knowledge of technology, connection with the unique challenges in the sector, and experience across the spectrum of technology, technology transactions and intellectual property will deliver immediate value to our clients in the US and across the wider network.”

Kornbacher, who joins from Vinson & Elkins, says, “Clifford Chance’s Tech Group has significant cadence in the global market, here in the US and particularly in Europe and Asia Pacific – I am proud and extremely enthusiastic to join this team and can’t wait to harness the power of an international tech practice and expand our presence in the US.”

Clifford Chance’s Tech Group serves as a single global team offering clients tech law advice across the spectrum on matters impacted by technology and its rapid transition, including on matters such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, blockchain, big data and cybersecurity.

Mary Meadors Payne (’83) and David Payne (’82)

David Payne (’82) and Mary Meadors Payne (’83) met at UH in Spring 1980. They married in 1988 and are celebrating 34 years on October 1, 2022.

Rolan Wilson Walton (’52)

Rolan Walton
May 27, 1929 – July 14, 2022
Rolan Wilson Walton was born on May 27, 1929 in San Antonio, TX. Rolan graduated from Lamar High School in 1946 and he was the student Regimental Commander of the ROTC. He remembered marching his unit on parades on River Oaks Blvd. Rolan loved all sports. While at Lamar he was the sports chairman for the Irari Club and played for the Lamar American Legion baseball team.

He attended Texas A&M and then transferred to the University of Texas, where he pledged Sigma Nu fraternity and was elected president of his pledge class. He later went to the University of Houston where he was the third baseman on the first UH baseball team, and as a senior, was captain of the 1951 championship team. He was the first 4-year letterman at the school. While in college he played for the semi-pro Victoria Rosebuds, winning the Houston Post tournament several times. He graduated from UH in 1952 with a degree in engineering. He played professional baseball for the Austin Pioneers for several years before joining his dad E Jack Walton in building the Walton Barge Terminal in 1954. In 1957 he formed his own company, Walton Transportation. He married young and had a daughter Renee Walton. He enjoyed watching her perform as the featured twirler for the Memorial Mustangs.

He later married Suzanne Luquette of Houston at the Little Church of the West in Las Vegas, Nevada on July 7, 1975. They had one daughter Anne Keith Walton. He was always a very active and supportive father in all her activities. He admired her scholastic achievements and enjoyed watching her work as an appellate lawyer in Washington, D.C. Rolan was a member and past president of Lakeside Country Club. He was also a member of The Houstonian and the Hills of Lakeway. He was a member of Chapelwood Methodist Church and later joined St. Martin’s Episcopal Church.

In 1974 he went out to the baseball field at the University of Houston to help his old baseball coach Lovett Hill practice with the team. Shortly thereafter he was asked to become the head baseball coach. He continued running his transportation businesses while donating his coach’s salary to the baseball program. In 2006, he was inducted into the University of Houston Athletic Hall of Honor. He loved his coaching career and even coached his daughter Anne’s Kinkaid School middle school softball team as a dollar a year man.

The Hill Country of Texas was his special place. He spent many weekends hunting on deer leases and fishing on the Pedernales river at the ranch outside Johnson City. Most of all he loved playing golf at Lakeway where he owned a house on Bermuda Drive, the scene of many happy family gatherings. He always looked forward to time spent in Hunt, TX, picking Anne up from camp. He and Suzanne enjoyed many family vacations in California and Florida. They loved attending the theater in New York and Houston and they loved to dance. They were members of several dance clubs over the years and were always the first ones on the dance floor.
Rolan was always a gentleman: very mannerly and always ready to help others. He was admired by all for his easy-going, friendly personality. He had many friends and took the role of Dad very seriously. He was a man of honor and maintained a strong Christian faith throughout his life.
Rolan is survived by Suzanne, his wife of 47 years, his daughter Renee Walton of Panama, Florida and four grandchildren, his daughter Anne Keith Walton of Washington, D.C., his brother Andy Walton, two sisters, Leah and Shelley, Also Lydia Luquette, Elyse Luquette Dale, Quentin Keith Luquette. There will be a memorial service in the chapel at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, 717 Woodway, on Wednesday, July 27 at 2 pm. with a reception immediately following. Internment will be at a later date in the columbarium at the Garden of the Holy Cross at St. Martins.
For those desiring, memorials may be made in honor of Rolan to St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, 717 Sage Road in Houston.

Published by Houston Chronicle on Jul. 24, 2022.

Ricky Lenz (’75)

I am in my 47th year as a pharmacist. I am the pharmacist in charge of Rogers Pharmacy #3. I work there on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. On Wednesdays, I work as a consultant
pharmacist for the South Texas Eye Surgicenter. I have been working at the South Texas Eye Surgicenter for 35 years. I work at Rogers #6 (in Edna, Texas) from 9-1. I am a long-time member
of the American Society of Health System Pharmacists (50 years), and I am a member of the Texas Pharmaceutical Association (50 years). I am Fellow in the Academy of Consultant Pharmacists.
I turned 70 this year and am still work full-time. I plan to keep working as long as my health holds out.
I have been married for 44 years to Carol Ann Lenz. We have one son, Joseph, who graduated (magna cum laude) in 2006 with a double degree in Classics (Latin & Greek), and German. Joseph
is a Phi Beta Kappa.
The University of Houston College of Pharmacy prepared me well for my pharmacy career. UH is a great university which I support financially every year. I am proud to be a graduate of UH.
Keep up the great work.