2024 Hall of Leaders Inductees

March 13, 2024

Established in 2001, the Hardin-Simmons University Hall of Leaders provides for permanent recognition of graduates, former students, and former employees who have distinguished records of achievement and proven themselves as men and women of good character. It is located in the Elwin L. Skiles Social Science Building on the first-floor circular corridor. The Hall of Leaders was made possible by a generous gift in 2001 from Inez Kelley of Houston, Texas, and her late husband, Dr. Doyle Kelley.

The 2024 Hall of Leaders inductees were recognized on Friday, March 1, 2024, at Hardin-Simmons University with a luncheon at which family and friends celebrated their accomplishments.


Growing up in historic Big Spring, Texas, Laura Moore found the West Texas town to be her launching pad for big dreams and great accomplishments.

Laura was blessed to have loving parents who invested in her in lasting ways. Her mother was a strong role model who dearly loved her and was a beloved Nana to Laura’s daughters. From junior high, Laura carried a legal pad with her and was on the lookout for projects with which to become involved. This practice continues today.

Following high school graduation, Laura enrolled in Hardin-Simmons University, a campus she came to love – a special place where she made her mark and life-long friendships.  At HSU, Laura participated in Student Government and served as president of the Student Congress her senior year. Following graduation, she attended the University of Manchester in Manchester, England as a Rotary Foundation Scholar completing a master’s degree in education.

Laura then returned to Abilene where she married HSU alum Jay Moore. Once again, Laura picked up her legal pad as she embarked on her professional career and civic opportunities. Highlights of her career include a 12-year stint in administration at HSU, serving as Director of Alumni, in Marketing and Enrollment Services, and as Assistant to the President. During this time, she coordinated the HSU Centennial Celebration which included 100 events, and the development of the first phase of the Alumni Plaza.

Following her time at HSU, Laura served as Director of the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature and as coordinator for “Reach Out and Read West Texas.”  Additionally, as Director of Development, she worked on the Hendrick Children’s Hospital fundraising campaign where she enlisted Michael Berenstain, author of The Berenstain Bear books, to allow the hospital to name each room in the children’s hospital for a different book.

Following her service at Hendrick, Laura spent several years as a consultant and worked with a variety of non-profits to help them garner resources for their missions. She was asked to serve as Executive Director of the Grace Museum in 2012 and has been in that capacity for 12 years. Presently the museum is a partner in the Abilene Heritage Square project which The Grace will oversee and where the museum will add the Spark Science Center.

In public service, Laura has given her time as the chair of Leadership Abilene, the Downtown Development Committee, and Together 2011 which, among other things, brought the first Splash Pad to Abilene.  Additionally, she has chaired the HSU Board of Trustees and the Abilene Chamber of Commerce and served two terms on the Abilene City Council. As a respected leader in the Abilene community and at Hardin-Simmons University, Laura is known as a good listener, consensus builder, articulate communicator, and one whose leadership is marked by getting things done.

Her most valuable gift in life is her family – her husband Jay and daughters, Madison, London, and Annelise.

For her untiring and selfless service as a civic leader and extensive contributions to non-profit leadership in West Texas, Hardin-Simmons University proudly inducts Laura Moore into the HSU Hall of Leaders.


Dr. Robert G. Mangrum, currently serving as Coley Professor of History and University Historian at Howard Payne University, was born in Abilene, Texas on May 6, 1948.  After attending school in Abilene through the third grade, his family moved to Richardson, Texas in 1957 where he graduated from Richardson High School in 1966. He attended Hardin-Simmons University, graduating in May 1970 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and political science, and received a commission as a U. S. Army Officer.

Going on active duty in August 1970, Mangrum attended Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia. Upon finishing the Infantry Officer Basic Course, he received training as a 4.2” Heavy Mortar Platoon Leader.  Mangrum then served in Germany from January 1971 to November 1973, in leadership assignments with military police. Returning to the States in 1973 following active duty, Mangrum entered graduate school at the University of North Texas, where he completed a Master of Arts degree in American History and received his Ph.D. in American history in 1978.

His first employment after graduation in the fall of 1978 was in Newton, Mississippi at Clarke College, a Baptist junior college. During his stay at Clarke, he met and married Cheryl Ann Everett of Lake, Mississippi.  Their wedding, on May 31, 1980, was immediately followed by a move to Brown County, Texas, where the Mangrum’s have spent their married life with careers at Howard Payne.

Beginning in the fall of 1980, Mangrum first served at HPU as an associate professor of history and government and head of the department of history; in the fall of 1981, he was named Assistant Director of the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom and Coley Professor of American History.  In 1984 he was named Director of the Academy honors program. Serving as the Academy Director until December 1997. In January 1998 he was named University Historian and in 2001 he was named Burress Professor of Genealogy and American History, a position he held for 29 years. Now in his 44th year at HPU, he continues to serve as the Coley Professor of American History and as University Historian.

From 1974 to 1998, Mangrum continued to serve in the U. S. Army’s Individual Ready Reserve in numerous leadership positions. After 28 years of active and reserve duty with the U.S. Army, Mangrum retired in June 1998 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

In May of 1998, he was elected to the Early City Council where, after three terms on the council and two terms as mayor pro tem, he was elected mayor in May 2005. Currently, he is finishing his tenth term as mayor.

For distinguished service in Christian higher education, in the United States Army, and as Mayor of the City of Early, Hardin-Simmons University proudly inducts Dr. Robert G. Mangrum into the HSU Hall of Leaders.


George Robert Bryan, a native of Abilene, could not have envisioned the life that God had in store for him when he was a young boy in the Key City. He would become a respected business leader, distinguishing himself as a utility executive, in non-profit volunteer service, and as a devoted Christian layman.

Bob was born on September 22, 1944, in Abilene, Texas where he spent his years through college. He graduated from Cooper High School in 1963, lettering in basketball. He graduated from Hardin-Simmons University in 1967 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. While at HSU, he worked at Lone Star Gas to help defray his college expenses.

After college, he began working full-time for Lone Star Gas and married Mary Frances Woodward, who would be his partner in life for 32 years. Shortly thereafter, he joined the United States Navy for three years attaining the rank of Lieutenant. Upon completion of his Navy commitment, he returned to Lone Star Gas (later Enserch Exploration) and after short stints in Athens, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City, he was assigned to company headquarters in Dallas. He held various positions with increased responsibility in the company and retired as the Chairman of Enserch Energy. While there, he also completed the Harvard Advanced Management Program.

Bob served on the Board of Directors for Texas Commerce Bank-Brookhollow and Dallas Petroleum Club, as a Deacon for Richardson Heights and Wilshire Baptist churches, and as a Board member for the State Fair of Texas Youth Livestock Auction. He and Mary also owned and operated a ranch near Grand Saline where they raised Beefmaster Cattle and spent many of their weekends.

Even amid his busy schedule, Bob proudly served his alma mater, Hardin-Simmons University, as a member of the Board of Trustees for nine years, including several years as Chairman of the Finance Committee and three years as Chairman of the Board. As a trustee, he was known not only for his business acumen, attention to financial detail, and swift decision-making ability but also for his keen sense of humor.

While serving on the HSU Board, Bob was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He passed a year later on October 8, 1998, at the age of 54, and was survived by his wife Mary, daughter Stephanie, son-in-law Douglas Allison, mother Frances Bryan, and siblings Joe, Kay, and Ann. Bob Bryan packed a great deal of service, love for his family, and Christian devotion into his life.

For his business accomplishments and his service to his nation and his alma mater, Hardin-Simmons proudly inducts George Robert Bryan into the HSU Hall of Leaders.