Visionaries left marks on ag, education
George Simmons built his career on the South Plains’ exploding cotton industry.
The native of Decatur began a lifelong association with the cottonseed business as an oiler in a mill in Hollis, Okla.
By 1923 he was commuting to Lubbock to supervise construction of the Lubbock Cotton Oil Mill. In 1930 he was named manager of the mill and made Lubbock his home.
His driving energy – he is said to have worked seven days a week — and his organizational ability lifted him to positions as a national leader in the cotton processing industry, according to “Builders of the Southwest” published by the Southwest Collection. He served until his death as a director of the Texas Cottonseed Crushers’ Association and was active in the National Cotton Council.
He shared his talents and successes with the community also. He served as president of the Lubbock Chamber of Commerce in 1935.
When a new parish school was planned for St. Elizabeth’s Church, the auditorium of the facility was named in his honor.
Stories are told of F.W. Mattox walking around a 400-acre cotton field on 19th Street, mentally plotting where to place each building and sidewalk of what would become today’s Lubbock Christian University.
His vision and foresight defied the skepticism of those who questioned another college in Lubbock.
He was serving as dean of students at Harding College Academy in 1956 when elders from Broadway Church of Christ asked him to come to Lubbock.
In 1957 the fledgling school opened in temporary buildings as a junior college with 110 students and 14 faculty members. Mattox saw the college grow to a four-year institution by 1972. In 1987 it achieved university status and the name was changed.
Six months before his retirement in 1974, Mattox was selected as the university’s first chancellor, and in 1977 he was named president emeritus.
Upon his resignation, Mattox said, LCU’s founding ideals “are true, fundamental and basic to successful living. These constitute the best answer to man’s spiritual, social, economic and political problems.”
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