Legendary Lady Longhorn

Betty Grubbs, lifelong champion of Texas Athletics, has given UT a gift worth cheering about.
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Some Longhorns sports legends have neither caught a touchdown pass, knocked a baseball out of the park, nor worn a burnt-orange uniform. Betty Grubbs, described by those who knew and loved her as “a tiny powerhouse,” earned her status of Longhorn legend by being one of the most loyal sports fans The University of Texas at Austin has ever known. She and her husband, Homer (BBA ’31), watched baseball from the wooden bleachers at old Clark Field in the 1960s. She was in the stands for more than 55 consecutive Texas-OU football games, and for decades she and Homer held season tickets for football, baseball, softball, volleyball and men’s and women’s basketball, most of which Betty continued to hold after Homer passed away in 1996.

In May 2018, Betty celebrated her 100th birthday at one of her most frequently visited venues — UFCU Disch-Falk Field. While she is no longer with us to cheer on her favorite teams, her estate gift to Texas Athletics will make her presence and impact felt for decades to come.

Life as Adventure

Betty was born in Sharon, Pennsylvania in 1918. After earning a master’s degree in education at the University of Pittsburgh, she taught business at several high schools. In 1943, she enlisted in the Women’s Reserve of the U.S. Navy and during World War II, she was transferred to Monterey, California. Betty was assigned to the disbursing office of the Naval Reserves, a role in which she demonstrated her characteristic grit. She carried vast sums of cash — not to mention “a gun and an attitude,” according to her obituary — from the naval office to the bank.

photo of U.S. Navy Women's Reserve Lieutenant Betty Grubbs

Betty reached the rank of lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Women’s Reserve before her honorable discharge in 1947. Her uniform is on display at the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas.

During this time, Betty earned her pilot’s license and met Homer, whom she married in Austin in 1951. Betty taught in UT’s College of Business Administration before taking a job as a benefits counselor with the Social Security Administration, a role well suited to her outgoing personality. Not surprisingly, she did far more for the SSA than was expected of her. She hosted a weekly cable TV show to educate senior citizens about the social security process and Medicare and wrote a weekly newspaper column for senior citizens for more than 20 years. Her long-standing community activism earned her a 2006 Community Spirit award from the Austin Group for the Elderly.

Game for Anything

Between work, commitment to her stepson and granddaughter, playing golf at Onion Creek Country Club (which she continued to do until age 92) and gathering with friends in her “Wild Bunch Lunch Group,” Betty still found time to fit in a full schedule of UT sports. She was more than a spectator — Betty helped the programs grow. In the 1970s, Title IX, which legislated equitable opportunities in college sports, had opened doors for women to participate in sports beyond high school. Betty’s personality and way of connecting with people became an enormous asset to Texas Athletics.

“Betty always had been an advocate for Texas sports, and now that there was this new thing — women’s sports — she was going to be an advocate for that too,” says Christine Plonsky, executive senior associate athletics director/chief of staff, who has been with Texas Athletics for 36 years. “Betty was active in the community and was well-known, energetic and knowledgeable. She banged on a lot of doors and said, ‘You’re going to buy women’s basketball season tickets,’” Christine recalls. “That was the type of grassroots approach to publicity in that era for Texas women’s athletics.”
photo of Betty Grubbs with a baseball

At age 92, Betty was named honorary captain of the softball team and delighted in throwing the first pitch.

A Gift for All Time

One of Betty’s dearest friends was Gary McIntosh, a former athletic trainer for UT football and baseball who sat beside Betty and Homer at Longhorns baseball games for 43 years. Among Gary’s favorite memories of Betty is how she could create community with anyone who came within her orbit.

“She was just one of those dream people,” says Gary. “Her approach was always to make people happy. Everyone who came over to talk to her walked away thinking they had been blessed that day.”

As her longtime seatmate, Gary knew firsthand just how loyal Betty was to her Longhorns teams. When she was named Austin’s Volunteer of the Year at age 89, she told Gary she would be unable to attend the banquet “because we’re playing against Nebraska in baseball tonight.” Gary convinced Betty to take the night off and enjoy the ceremony instead.

photo of Homer and Betty Grubbs

Homer and Betty Grubbs held season tickets for numerous UT sports for more than half their lives.

When Betty’s long and happy life came to an end in December 2018, Gary was charged with fulfilling her final wishes, among which were making contributions to softball and baseball facility renovations and the creation of an endowment to support UT’s female student-athletes with proceeds from the sale of her five-acre property on Brodie Lane. Betty’s gift is the largest scholarship endowment ever for UT women’s athletics and the third-largest gift to the women’s program she so dearly loved.

“Betty was forward-thinking and ahead of her time,” says Jody Conradt, who coached Texas women’s basketball from 1976 to 2007 and served as women’s athletic director from May 1992 to April 2001. “We were so fortunate to be a partner with her. Because of the funds she designated, our student-athletes will have a chance to continue to play the sports they love.”

Betty’s support of Texas Athletics will continue, and her extraordinary gifts will create opportunities for others to make memories of their own. And nothing would have made Betty happier.

Texas Leader Magazine

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