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Bill and Glenda Barrett

Bill and Glenda Barrett turned a loved pastime into a life-changing experience for students. Over 20 years ago, the Barretts began a relationship with students through the game of golf. The Eisenhower Golf Classic, a pro-am tournament attracting the likes of Fred Couples and Greg Norman, was hosted by The University of Texas at Tyler. Bill's auto dealership, Barrett Motor Company, sponsored a vehicle drawing contest for this fundraiser. The event ultimately evolved into the Patriot Classic, led by hundreds of volunteers including Glenda, and continued to feature the drawing as a highlight of the week-long events. Proceeds each year added to the scholarship endowments named for the Classic.

Bill and Glenda sold Barrett Motor Company in 2004, but continued to contribute personally to provide student scholarships through the Patriot Classic. In 2005, the Patriot Classic's Ambassador organization honored Glenda's volunteer efforts with a scholarship in her name. Bill has continued to field a team each year, eventually as a member of the Classic Society, an elite group of community supporters who provide the lions' share of support for the golf tournament.

The Bill and Glenda Barrett Scholarship was established in 2006. Additional funding by the Barretts and a matching grant from the Greater Texas Foundation expanded their endowment to be renamed the Bill and Glenda Barrett - Greater Texas Foundation Removing Barriers Scholarship. This gift invested a total of $150,000 into The University of Texas System Long Term Fund, providing a steady stream of funding for future generations. "The Barretts are ensuring long-term stability for the University by establishing critically-needed scholarships", said UT Tyler President Rod Mabry. "Endowed scholarships like those that the Barretts have provided are crucial to so many East Texas students who are very bright, but still need financial help. Scholarships are critical in our recruitment of the very best students outside our region too."

As struggling college newlyweds at North Texas State University back in the 1960's, Bill and Glenda never imagined the impact they would have on university students coming after them. But their hard work led to much success. Bill started out as a high school teacher, and then went on to work for General Motors, first as a service trainer, then in sales. Almost nine years later in 1978, Bill bought the Tyler dealership. Respect for Bill in the industry was evidenced by his receipt of the Jack Smith Leadership Award from the president of General Motors-North America in 2001. Glenda's effective business practices also became well-known, first in the legal department of H. R. Gibson in Dallas, founder of Gibson Discount Stores, and later as office manager of Tyler's Wilson Law Firm.

These accomplishments motivated them to find ways to help others, including The University of Texas at Tyler. "Our choice to give to student scholarships was the best one for us, considering our priorities. We knew it was the way to educate a new generation filling the shoes of retiring Baby Boomers who helped make this country successful", Bill says. Glenda adds that "this was our way of helping kids who really needed it." Because of the Barretts and a few rounds of golf, many of those students will now confidently face their future.