Alumni Hall of Fame
Buddy Echols (1967)
Buddy Echols graduated from Gainesville High School in 1967. He was fifth in his senior class and served as senior class president. He received a full football scholarship to Southern Methodist University. After graduation from SMU with a degree in chemistry, he had an outstanding career in public education. Starting in 1971, he was a science teacher and coach in the Highland Park ISD. He later became a junior high and high school principal in Van and after one year, became the superintendent. He then took the same position with the New Caney ISD, before moving on to Coppell. As the Coppell ISD superintendent from 1989 to 2002, he guided the district through a time of huge growth. Upon his retirement, the new football stadium was named for him. In 2007, he became the Executive Director of the Region 10 Education Service Center where he remained until his retirement in 2014.
Tom Kennedy (1964)
Tom Kennedy graduated from Gainesville High School in 1964. His speed landed him a scholarship to run track at Baylor University. His passion for journalism landed him the editor’s position at The Baylor Lariat during his senior year. He graduated in 1968 as the Distinguished Journalism Graduate and went to work for United Press International as a newsman. In 1970, he went to The Houston Post as a reporter. He stayed there for 25 years where he covered beats such as higher education, Houston City Hall, the Harris County Courthouse and the Texas Legislature. In 1978, he was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. In 1983, he became a columnist specializing in local politics. He has authored five books. In 1995, he served as deputy assistant director of Public Works and Engineering under Houston Mayor Bob Lanier. He then joined the Houston Community College System as director of marketing and public relations. Now retired, he still stays busy publishing a monthly magazine and completing two screenplays, including one about 1950s high school football in a small Texas town.
David Nieman (1970)
David Nieman graduated from Gainesville High School in 1970. He attended SMU, but his love of theater led him to transfer to Eastern New Mexico State University. While there, he was selected to attend Robert Redford’s Sundance summer stock in Utah. He moved to Los Angeles to begin his acting career. He has had a successful television acting career, appearing on such shows as “Touched By An Angel,” “LA Law,” “Crossroads,” “Everwood,” and “Granite Flats.” He appeared in several movies including “A Home of our Own” as well as the NBC Movie of the Week “Perfect Murder, Perfect Town: Jon Benet and the City of Boulder.” On top of his television and movie work, he has been a theater director of choice in Salt Lake City and has starred in numerous plays in the Salt Lake theater. He has also done multiple television commercials.
Pat O’Brien (1953)
Pat O’Brien graduated from Gainesville High School in 1953. He then attended Texas A&M University where he studied civil engineering. Upon his graduation, he served his country as an officer in the United States Army. Following his time in the service, he joined Texaco as a construction engineer. In 1969, he teamed up with Steve Rogers to form Rogers-O’Brien Construction Company which has grown to be one of the largest privately-held construction companies in Texas. Over a 40-year span, O’Brien provided strategic leadership to the company, serving as its founder, CEO and Chairman. He was an innovator and leader in the construction industry, pioneering a company quality improvement program evolving from RO’s work with Texas Instruments that received both local and national recognition. He served on the Board of Directors and President of the Associated Builders and Contractors. He was the recipient of multiple industry awards including the American Subcontractor Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Joe Wallace (1967)
Joe Wallace graduated from Gainesville High School in 1967. Wallace has been at the heart of the family business, North Texas Marine, for 50 years. His father started the business in 1954, and Joe became a co-owner in 1972, then bought his father out in 1985. Since then, the dealership has repeatedly gained both state and national recognition. In 2004, North Texas Marine was recognized as the No. 1 seller of Glastron boats in Texas and No. 2 in the entire nation. The company has also won Glastron’s Top Customer Service Award nationally. He has served on multiple boards, task forces and committees that strive to better our schools and community.
Don Williams (1967)
Don Williams graduated from Gainesville High School in 1967. After graduation, he served four years in the United State Air Force including two years in Vietnam. After military duty, he returned to Gainesville and received his Associate’s Degree from Cooke County College. Don has been actively involved in the Gainesville community for almost 50 years. He has served on the Board of Directors of the American Heart Association, Boys Club, Camp Fire and Gainesville Jaycees. He became the first African-American president of the Jaycees and received the Jaycee of the Year award. He was appointed to the City of Gainesville Charter Revision Committee, He was President of the Concerned Citizens for Black Improvement in Cooke County. He was the first President of the Booker T. Washington Alumni Association, serving in that role for more than a decade. He has also officiated baseball, softball and basketball at the Boys and Girls Club, as well as being a member of the Southwest Basketball Officiating Association.
Educator Hall of Fame
Ruth Echols Adams
Ruth (Echols) Adams taught in Texas public schools for 24 years. She is a 1963 graduate of Gainesville High School and received her Bachelor’s degree from SMU and a Master’s degree from Texas Tech University. She taught in Bryan, Lubbock and Richardson before starting in Gainesville in 1979. In the GISD, she taught fifth grade, fourth grade and a resource class at McMurray Elementary. She served as the Grade Level Chairman for fourth grade from the time the position was created until her retirement in 1994. She then bought WW Howeth Title Company and managed it until 2004.
Ann Echols Hanna
Ann (Echols) Hanna taught full time in the GISD from 1992 to 2007, then spent the next five years serving as a substitute teacher. Ann graduated Summa Cum Laude from Hardin Simmons University with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education. She started her career in 1980 in the Abilene ISD. After a year teaching at a private school in 1985, she moved on to Union Public Schools and later San Marcos ISD before moving to Gainesville in 1992. She was then hired to teach LD resournce at J.M. Lindsay Elementary. She did that for two years before becoming a fourth grade teacher at McMurray. She spent 10 years teaching fourth grade and another three years teaching third grade at the school before retiring in 2007. In all, she spent 32 years in education.