The UT Gene
Lufkin father passes down burnt-orange legacy to brood.
Hilary Haglund Walker didn’t fall far from the tree.
Like her father, Wayne Haglund, she earned an undergraduate degree from UT. Like her dad, she went on to law school. He was president of the local Rotary Club; now she is. She even joined his law firm in Lufkin.
“He and I both have a passion for the law and for public service,” she said. “He’s a good one to follow, so it’s been a natural fit.”
Fortunately for The University of Texas at Austin, she also followed his example when he decided to give back to the university. When Wayne and his wife, Lisa, gave an estate gift to UT to create a scholarship for needy students from their home county, Angelina, Hilary gave, too.
“UT is a life-changing place,” Hilary said. “We want to make sure more people get the opportunity that our family had.”
“As more of my career is behind me than in front of me, The University of Texas becomes more important to me, in part because I have time to stop and think about it,” said Wayne, who earned a government degree in 1974 and a law degree in 1975. “I’m not raising kids and changing diapers and paying for weddings.”
Nowadays, it’s Hilary and her husband, Stephen, also a UT alum, and her siblings who are raising kids and changing diapers. The Haglunds have five grandchildren, all boys. Among them are the Walkers’ two sons, 10-month-old Asa and 3-year-old Anders. (The other Haglund grandchildren belong to daughter Hayley and son Hunter. Hayley Haglund Davis and her husband, Eason, are parents to 5-month-old Rhys James Davis, and Hunter Haglund and his wife, Leanne, are parents to 2-year-old Preston and 11-month-old William.)
Hilary and Wayne gave a little differently — she designated the university as a beneficiary of her life-insurance policy while he included a bequest to UT in his will.
“We’re not in a position where we can write a big fat check, but at the same time, because we can do it through estate planning, there’s just so many different ways to do it,” he said. “It was time for me to do what was important to me while I still could.”
Wayne, the first in his family to attend college, has many reasons to be grateful for his UT education.
“It has given me a credibility that I would not have had as a graduate of somewhere else,” he said. “Not only that, but the training was incredible and the teachers were incredible.”
And his children knew it.
“Because of Dad’s history, it’s always been very important to him that we remember that our family didn’t come from a lot,” Hilary said. “He worked hard for everything he has, and the university allowed that to happen for him. It changed the course of his life and our lives.”
With that in mind, Wayne made the couple’s children an offer they couldn’t refuse: He’d pay their way through college if they went to The University of Texas at Austin. If not, they could go anywhere else in the world — on their own dime.
“Absolute freedom of choice,” Wayne said with a laugh. “And in their wisdom, they all chose to attend Texas.”
All five of them — Hilary Haglund Walker (’01 English), Jacquelyn Block (’01 architectural engineering), Hayley Haglund Davis (’03 English), Jennifer Bell (’03 kinesiology), and Hunter Haglund (’06 sport management).
“While it was mostly meant as a joke, we all knew deep down how much it would mean to him if we went to UT,” said Davis, a second-grade teacher in San Francisco.
“Luckily, all of us wanted to go to UT on our own, so we didn’t have to find out the hard way what would happen if we didn’t,” said Block, an architect with Good, Fulton and Farrell Architects in Dallas.
Time spent visiting the Forty Acres while growing up proved formative.
“I was captivated early on by the sights, sounds, and magic of Austin and The University of Texas,” Davis said.“For me, there was never a doubt that my blood truly did bleed orange.”
Davis describes her time at UT as “absolutely the best four years of my life.”
“The classes I attended and professors I had challenged me to become an open-minded, thoughtful individual,” she said. “It shaped who I am as a teacher and a mother, my two most important roles in this world.”
As an architect, Block uses the problem-solving skills she learned at UT every day.
“It’s really important to learn to think and not just memorize,” she said. “I don’t know that every school teaches that.”
Bell, a member of the women’s rowing team during her years at Texas, also grew from her time at UT.
“I was able to greatly expand my knowledge base as well as my critical thinking skills through my classes,” said Bell, associate director of clinical education and clinical assistant professor of physical therapy at the University of Montana in Missoula. “As an athlete, I developed as a hardworking, strong, driven woman. I learned that in order to excel in both academics and athletics I had to be extremely focused and determined.”
Bell and her husband, Darin, are graduates of UT Southwestern Medical School.
Mom Lisa is the lone non-Longhorn in the family. She graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University, but she shares her family’s love of UT.
“I’m a proud Lumberjack, but I’m proud to bleed orange,” she said. “I’m very proud of what the university has done for my family.”
True to their UT roots, the couple’s children are doing what they can to spread the burnt orange love. Block’s latest convert is her husband, Kevin, who recently began the McCombs School of Business’ MBA program in Dallas.
“My family is already stocking him up on Longhorn gear,” she said.
And the next generation?
“As far as I’m concerned it’s already decided,” Wayne said.
He may be right.
“Given what The University of Texas means to our family, it’s hard to imagine my children going to college anyplace else but Texas,” Hunter said.
Davis makes this confession:
“My die-hard University of California-Berkeley husband may hate me admitting this, but I’m proud to say I’ve already uttered those famous Wayne Haglund words to my son: ‘Son, I’m happy to pay for your college education … so long as it’s at The University of Texas!’ ”
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