Two lifelong friends have been selected as posthumous recipients of the Paris Junior College 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award, according to PJC President Dr. Pam Anglin. The late Barney W. Bray, III, Class of 1964 and Thomas Cedric “Tommy” Townsend, Class of 1963 will be honored during PJC’s 2019 Homecoming festivities November 9 at the Love Civic Center.
Bray passed away July 30, 2018 and Townsend died November 18, 2013. The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor bestowed on alumni by the College.
“In their lives, both of these gentlemen believed in the value of education and supported it in ways few may know,” said Dr. Anglin. “It was my pleasure to work with Mr. Bray as a member of the PJC Board of Regents and he was a tremendous asset to our community. He introduced me to Mr. Townsend who was well connected throughout Austin and the Texas Capitol where he not only represented PJC but advocated for issues which benefitted the College and his hometown.”
A graduate of Paris High School, Bray graduated from PJC and East Texas State University, now Texas A&M University-Commerce, with a bachelor’s degree in history and sociology.
Following a short stint selling heavy trucks in Dallas, he returned to Paris to work in the family construction company, also serving six years in the Army Engineer Reserve. He later acquired a solid waste company and spent many years building a regional waste company and landfill. He also owned Bray Rental Property.
Bray served on many local boards, including three bank boards (most recently Guaranty Bank & Trust), the Boys & Girls Club of Paris, and the Paris Junior College Board of Regents. He also served on the Paris Economic Development Corporation. He was a proud member on the Wall of Honor at the Boys & Girls Club of Paris.
He and his wife Dee were married for 46 years and were blessed with two children; daughter Jessica Rice and her husband, Andrew, and son Josh and his wife, Beth. They have six grandchildren: Brayden, Rachel, Holden, and Easten Rice, and Anniston and AnneLee Bray.
A well-known and respected colleague to many, Townsend served for a number of years as the Executive Director of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association (TTLA). Prior to joining TTLA, he was Senior Vice-President and Chief Legislative Counsel for the Texas Association of Realtors for thirteen years. Around the Texas Capitol, he spent seven years as the Sergeant at Arms for the Texas Senate.
In addition to his professional accreditation as a Certified Association Executive, Townsend was active in the association management organizations at both the national and state level. He has served as President of the National Association of Trial Lawyer Executives, Chairman of the Texas Society of Association Executives, and Chairman of the Political Action Committee of the American Society of Association Executives.
Among honors Townsend received included: Executive of the Year Award by the Texas Society of Association Executives, the Tejano Appreciation Award by the Texas Tejano Democrats, and the Partnership Award by the American Association for Justice.