Johansons make $5 million-plus gift to Tarleton
STEPHENVILLE, Texas—Former Tarleton professor Dr. Lamar Johanson and his wife, Marilynn Timberlake Johanson, have made a life estate gift, estimated to be in excess of $5 million, for the benefit of Tarleton State University.
The gift includes nearly 1,700 acres of farm and ranch land, with mineral rights, in San Saba and Mills counties. Terms of the agreement allow a portion of the property to be used as an academic laboratory to support Tarleton research, academic programs, and other university functions, while another portion will provide much needed scholarships and create a maintenance endowment.
The gift was announced at a ceremony Nov. 13 on the Tarleton campus.
Marilynn Johanson spoke about her family’s connection to Stephenville. After she and Lamar moved to Stephenville in 1961, her grandmother, Effie Stephen Timberlake, told her a story.
“It’s very interesting that you and your young husband have chosen Stephenville as your home,” her grandmother told her. “There is something you need to know. My grandfather, John M. Stephen, gave the land for the town of Stephenville. … Would John M. Stephen be impressed with our gift to the university? I don’t have a clue. But his granddaughter Effie Stephen Timberlake knew the value of education and would have said, well done, young folks, well done.”
While their parents did not have the opportunity to go to college, Lamar Johanson said, “they all valued a college education and they instilled in both Marilynn and me the need and value of a college education.
“Because of the effort and hard work by those who came before us a nice asset was developed,” he continued, “and today we are passing on a large portion of that asset along to help students gain a college education. We know of no way to better invest in the future of this great nation of ours than to invest in the education of our youth.”
Tarleton President F. Dominic Dottavio praised the couple for their “gift of the heart”—land developed by their ancestors.
“Through teaching and service, previous giving and enthusiasm for Texan athletics over many years, Marilynn and Lamar Johanson have been among Tarleton’s staunchest supporters,” Dottavio said. “Their extremely generous gift will provide opportunities for our faculty and will affect generations of Tarleton students. Many deserving young people will be able to see their dream of a college education come true due to the generosity and vision of the Johansons. We are profoundly grateful.”
Dr. Karen Murray, provost and executive vice president of academic affairs, said, “Lamar and Marilynn have had a tremendous impact on Tarleton students for 40 years. This gift will assure their influence on Tarleton students for generations to come. Their actions are exemplary and epitomize our core values and mission.”
Lamar Johanson retired in 2001 after 40 years of service to Tarleton. Among other duties, he served as a professor of biological sciences, chairman of the Department of Biological Sciences, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and as the first executive director of Tarleton State University System Center-Central Texas in Killeen.
Lamar Johanson and Marilynn Timberlake are both products of San Saba County. Lamar, son of Clyde and Bonnie Battle Johanson, was born Oct. 31, 1935, in Hays County at the home of his maternal grandparents, Dudley and Sally Battle. Home for the Johanson Family was Cherokee, Texas. Lamar started school in the old Cherokee School House that once housed the F.M. Behrns' West Texas Business College. This building burned when Lamar was in the third grade. He enjoyed sports and played both football and basketball for the Cherokee Indians. Lamar was salutatorian of his 1953 Cherokee High School graduating class.
Marilynn Frances Timberlake was born July 12, 1939, in San Saba at the home of her maternal grandparents, Carl and Myrtle House Bryant. She is the only child of Roy and Geneva Timberlake. She grew up on the family stock farm and enjoyed playing and doing outside chores. Marilynn was a member of the Class of '57 at San Saba High School. She received her bachelor’s degree from Texas Woman's University and in 1980 earned her master’s degree from Tarleton State University.
They first met in 1954 in the local diner on Wallace Street in San Saba. Lamar was a student at Southwest Texas State Teachers College in San Marcos, where he earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. He was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Air Force after graduation in 1958.
Lamar and Marilynn were married July 2, 1960, at the First Baptist Church in San Saba. They established their first home at Chanute AFB, Rantoul, Ill. Lamar was clinical laboratory officer in charge of the hospital lab and pharmacy.
Following the completion of Lamar's military duty, the couple moved to Stephenville in 1961 where Lamar had accepted a position at Tarleton as an instructor in the Department of Biological Sciences. Marilynn was hired to teach vocational home economics at Hico High School.
In 1963, Lamar took a leave of absence from Tarleton to earn his doctorate in plant physiology and biochemistry from Texas A&M University. They returned to Tarleton in 1967.
Marilynn's professional career included classroom teacher in Hico and Stephenville High Schools, education specialist with Texas Education Agency, and as high school and elementary principal at Strawn ISD and Goldthwaite ISD. She retired in 1995 with 34 years of service to Texas public schools.
Today the Johansons live on the Timberlake Ranch in the Rye Valley Community of Mills County. The ranch became home to Marilynn's grandparents, W.C. and Effie Stephen Timberlake, in 1902. Located 15 miles from Goldthwaite, the land is surrounded on three sides by the Colorado River.
The Johansons presently maintain ranching and farming interests in both Mills and San Saba counties. They produce coastal hay and wheat and raise quality Braford cattle.
Tarleton State University
A member of The Texas A&M University System
Contact: Joe Michael Feist