Why We Love Life Members [A History]

In 1957, the Ex-Students’ Association of The University of Texas had fewer than 10,000 members when an exciting idea for revolutionizing membership bubbled up. It changed the nature of the Texas Exes so much that today, 55 years later, we still celebrate it.

Executive director Jack Maguire had been working hard to raise the profile, revenues, and membership numbers of the Association. Joe C. “Jodie” Thompson, 7-11 founder and head of the Southland Corp., wanted to join. But as he told Maguire, he wanted to be something more than an ordinary member.

Quick on his feet, Maguire offered Thompson the chance to become the Association’s first “life member.” This honor would come at the modest price of $250, which would go into a Permanent Endowment Fund that would support the association through investment interest.

Joe C. Thompson

By the time Maguire retired nearly 20 years later, there were nearly 7,000 Life Members. Today there are 62,464.

Life Members cite everything from staying in touch to making new connections to giving back as their reasons for joining the Texas Exes for life.

One member moved us recently when he shared his story about joining on our website. “Through scholarships and constant mentoring, the generosity of the staff and alumni made it possible for this small-town boy to get a degree, when he probably wouldn’t have been able to otherwise,” he wrote. “As a former Texas Scholar, the Texas Exes played a role in my college experience every bit as important as those of my professors, family and friends. So when it came time to become a Life Member, there was no hesitation.

“The legacy they built for me is deeper than any inscription on a brick; it was life-changing and something I can never repay—but I can try,” he added. “Others paved the way for me, so I want to help pave the way for others.”

Over the years, everybody from the late Lady Bird Johnson to the still-playing Vince Young has become a lifer (more on our most famous Life Members coming soon). This week, we salute you!


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