Spring 2006
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TCU Magazine "AlumNews"
Purple in the White House | Notables | A healthy outlook

Mary Pensworth Reagor ’83 (PhD), a technical fellow for mathematical algorithms at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, in September received the 2005 Outstanding Achievement Award for Technical Excellence from Women in Aerospace, a Washington, D.C.,-based nonprofit dedicated to expanding opportunities for women in the aerospace community.

Reagor, one of six honorees, was chosen for her pioneering work in fuzzy logic applications that has resulted in widely applicable data mining and modeling tools. She is also the co-inventor of the Reagor Lynn Method (RLM), a unique mathematical technique for creating compact, accurate, high-performance models of complex physical phenomena.

The technology’s applications range from medical research to industrial process control. Lockheed Martin has licensed the technique to Fort Worth-based Third Millennium Productions, a software company that has developed it into a commercial package called Datascape.

“There are over 400 users of Datascape in Lockheed Martin Corp. worldwide,” Reagor said. “One of my favorite comments from one of these users was: ’This is the rabbit I’ve been looking for in my hat!’ ”

When Reagor began at then-General Dynamics more than 35 years ago, she knew only four other women engineers. “Now I am delighted to say that a large number of young women and minorities work for Lockheed Martin. People coming from diverse backgrounds and ages bring a rich variety of problem-solving abilities and techniques,” she said, noting that women often bring a unique approach to problem solving.

Sheila Stark Phillips ’56 would rather climb a tree and tell a lie than stand on the ground and tell the truth. It’s a preference that served her well in October, when she represented the South Central United States at the biggest confabulator’s conference in the country.

She didn’t have to climb a tree, but she did have to travel to tiny Jonesborough, Tenn., where the three-day 2005 National Storytelling Festival was held, and lie her head off.

When it comes to fibbing, Phillips has gone professional. In April 2005 she won the Faulk Award, the highest achievement in storytelling in the Southwest, from the Tejas Storytelling Association. At the recent festival, she was one of only six invited.

Whether onstage aboard an ocean liner or at festivals across the South, Phillips is a natural-born spellbinder. Karen Morgan, former executive director of the Tejas Storytelling Association, calls her “a master storyteller and champion liar and amazingly versatile. In one story she may have a thousand people laughing as hard as they’ve ever laughed.” But Phillips can also tell “remarkable and poignant stories of past neighbors and growing up.”

Like the best storytellers, Phillips loves the contradictions and craziness in being human. But she got the bug for “telling” when she worked at the Houston Zoo and includes animals as subjects in her stories, too. But that, as they say, is another story. Let her tell you.

Hal Brown ’88 recently made the ultimate gesture of community dedication when he bought Fort Worth, Texas: The City’s Magazine. Although he spearheaded the magazine in 1998 with a partner, he also handled several other publications as CEO, including Signature Kitchens and Baths, PetLife and REO. After realizing he was stretched too thin, he chose to pursue his dream of owning his city’s magazine and started his own company, Panther City Media Publishing.

“When I grew up here, all my friends couldn’t wait to get out,” he said. “I ended up staying, playing under Jim Wacker’s first year at TCU and going through the Cinderella season we had. I’ve always loved the city, and my family roots here are deep.”

The publishing world is nothing new for Brown. In 1994 he and a partner created Michael’s Arts and Crafts magazine for the national craft store chain. It sold on a national level in the chain’s 450 stores. Brown and his partner eventually sold it but continued the publishing business as Magnolia Media Group.

September 2005 was the first issue of Fort Worth, Texas under Brown’s direction. Through the Panther City moniker, he and his 14 employees will publish all the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce publications, the city’s Newcomer’s Guide and a publication highlighting the Trinity River project, to be sold on newsstands in July.

Beth Perkins ’96 was not about to sport a tent dress when she became pregnant with her first son, Luke, in 2003. Now thanks to her maternity apparel line, Mommy
Go Round (www.mommygoround.com), other mommies-to-be don’t have to, either.

A finance and accounting major at TCU with an MBA, Perkins devised a business plan, found an investor who believed in the idea, and took baby steps in releasing a line of tight tees and tanks for those who are pregnant and proud.

“The style is definitely young and trendy, for celebrating your shape instead of trying to hide it,” said Perkins, who had baby No. 2 last June. “It’s not for everyone, and I know that. But a lot of people are doing this and charging $50 for screened graphics on a T-shirt, and I can’t justify doing that.”

Perkins’ prices range from $30 to $45 for tops with quirky quips (in French, Spanish or Italian) like Procreator, Immaculate Conception, Nine Months and Who’s Your Mama? She creates many of the designs, and a team of manufacturers, pattern makers, screen printers and seamstresses enables her to keep costs low.

Now her belly has shrunk, and Perkins’ Austin-based business is booming. Three sales reps hit showrooms at markets around the country, she’s building wholesale accounts, and she sent the Fed-Ex guy sailing thanks to a recently hired fulfillment center. Her line — which has expanded to include pants, short shorts and dresses — can be found in stores in California, Philadelphia and New England and from online retailers.

If running your own clothing line means working from home, this mom is doing it in style.

On any given Saturday at the Colleyville youth baseball fields, enthusiastic parents can expect to cheer on the Rangers, Cardinals, Yankees and Royals. But this past season, horned frogs were tossed into the mix — the Colleyville Horned Frogs.

Decked out in purple and gray from their TCU ball caps to their TCU-purple socks, these 7- and 8-year-old boys played with the heart of Horned Frogs and had a lot of fun in the process. After all, every Frog knows the pride of being the only team with enough moxie to be called the Horned Frogs.

Formerly the Colleyville Astros, the team made a name change to align more closely with some of the parents’ purple roots — including head coach Tim Neuman ’90 (MBA ’92), a former TCU cheerleader, and team mom Liane Bebout Neuman ’92, whose son, Connor, plays. Other Frog parents are Lisa Miller Mills ’88, mom of player Clay Mills, and Kevin (MBA ’91) and Rachel Stowe Master ’91, parents of Caden.

“The years prior to the fall season we were the Astros and we had a lot of fun, just not much success, so the management decided that we needed a fresh start,” coach Neuman noted. “It was only natural we go back to our roots. We still bleed purple.”

While most of the other teams borrow professional club names, Neuman and staff “wanted a team name that was special and the kids could have pride in wearing. And it worked — the kids and our fans became passionate Frog supporters.”
Of course, there was a bit of a transition.

“At first it took some practice to get the kids and parents used to cheering, ’Go Frogs!’ but ’Frog fever’ did catch on. The kids were proud to be part of something special. We truly became a closer team because of it,” Neuman said. “We even had our one Aggie assistant coach wearing purple proudly, but he married a Horned Frog, so he didn’t have much of a choice.”

Colleyville baseball doesn’t keep team standings for fall ball, but the Frogs plan to make a strong purple showing in the spring.

And for some of these young ballplayers, that Horned Frog pride might become a lifelong tradition. Go Colleyville Frogs!

Shannon McLinden ’97 (MBA ’98) is a woman with a mission — to say goodbye to swampfoot. Tired of suffering “cute shoe” deprivation due to sweaty feet, she invented Summersoles, a slim, sweat-defying fabric insole that she calls the “solution to squishy shoes.”

These days, McLinden wears the cutest sandals and strappiest heels she can find and sells the insoles through her website, Summersoles.com. The site is hip, funky and very professional, just like McLinden, who says that her MBA from TCU “helped tremendously in strategic planning for the company.”

She is negotiating with distributors in Singapore and South Africa, as well as with major catalog publishers and retailers in the United States. Initially for women only, Summersoles began to get complaints from men feeling left out, so they now come in two sexes.

And fashion mavens and celebs love the idea. This summer, Summersoles found their way onto ABC’s “The View,” and they’ve been getting the thumbs up in fashion mags all over the Unitd States and Canada. They even made it into the coveted celebrity “swag” gift bags at three high-profile events in 2005. Stars from Gwen Stefani to Eddie Murphy now have a little bit of Texas to slip inside their shoes.