First and foremost, The Lion Wire sends it’s prayers and condolences to the family of Harry Icenhower. Mr. Icenhower passed away Monday at the age of 94 in Commerce. For those who do not know, he and his wife Rheba have been two of the biggest boosters and supporters for the Lions and not just the athletic program, but the school. They were responsible for bringing King Pride to Commerce (the large inflatable Lion) and spearheaded the fund raising efforts.
The Story behind King Pride goes like this. The Icenhowers were at the 1992 matchup between ET and Pittsburg State in Pittsburg, Kansas when they noticed a large King Kong Looking Gorilla that was inflated. It was intimidating and something the PSU fans took a large amount of pride in. I remember Mr. Icenhower said once that while he did not appreciate PSU’s fan behavior, he loved their spirit and he wanted Commerce to have as much of that as possible. He did his part by bringing King Pride. I hope that the athletic department decides to inflate KP every game this year as homage to Mr. Icenhower and what he did for the school. Pray for his family also. I met both of them at a game last year. They could not have been more gracious if they tried. Ms. Icenhower has a heart of gold and Harry shook my hand feverishly and told me how he loved reading this blog and said that people like me are needed to keep this going, because as he put it, “we are not going to be around forever, young man.”
Here is a feature on them from the PRIDE Magazine a few years back-
Together, Harry and Rheba have more than 50 years of service to Texas A&M University-Commerce. They have served on committees, traveled across the country with the football team and served in leadership roles-and that’s just their involvement since graduation.
For Rheba, her involvement with the university began as a child. She grew up in Commerce, and attended high school on campus at the University Training School. As an undergraduate, she was a cheerleader and joined the Tooanoowe Social Club, now Gamma Phi Beta Sorority. She currently serves as an adjunct professor in the curriculum and instruction department working with the field-based student teacher program. Harry found his way to campus after serving three years in the South Pacific with the U.S. Army in World War II. His brother James attended A&M-Commerce, and the Tejas Club, his brother’s social club, provided similar camaraderie to what Harry enjoyed in the military.
After graduation, Harry and Rheba left Commerce to pursue careers in public education, Rheba as a teacher, and Harry as a school administrator. After more than 20 years serving the students of Grand Prairie, however, Harry decided it was time to retire, and the desire to move back to Commerce was strong.
Since they’ve returned, Harry and Rheba’s gifts to the university have only increased, as evidenced by their recognition as Gold Blazers in 1987 and 1990 respectively.
They have devoted their resources and energy to fundraising and recruiting for athletics. They have served fellow alumni as members of the Alumni Association, with Rheba also serving on the board. Their unquenchable spirit also led them to organize the purchase of the larger-than-life Lion that remains a staple at university home football games. Of all their activities, however, Rheba retains a particular fondness for one-homecoming.
“I haven’t missed homecoming in 60 years,” Rheba said. “Harry might have a golf or hunting trip, but I’m always there.”
It is that involvement that inspired Harry and Rheba to take their giving a step further by donating towards the construction of the Alumni Center They were recognized at the building’s grand opening with naming rights to one of the offices.
Harry and Rheba are careful to invest not only in the structures that make learning possible, but also in the students. Their scholarship endowment targets students pursuing the same dreams they did- degrees in elementary education.
“This university opened up so many doors for Harry and me,” Rheba said. “Now we cannot help but give back whenever possible, and stay involved with our alma mater that we hold dear.”
Once again, our deepest condolences and most heartfelt prayers to Miss Rheba and the Icenhower family.
Here is the Obituary, hat tip from the Commerce Funeral Home-
Harry Crew Icenhower, 93, of Commerce, passed away on Monday, August 21, 2017. He was born on November 10, 1923 in DeKalb, Texas, the son of Eddie Icenhower and Annie Welch Icenhower. Visitation will be 5:00-7:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 24, 2017 at Commerce Funeral Home. A funeral service will be held on Friday, August 25, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Commerce. Interment will follow at Dallas Fort Worth National Cemetery in Dallas.
Growing up in DeKalb, Harry attended DeKalb High School. In 1946, he entered the United States Army, during which time he served in the Philippines during World War II. He was in charge of running the Harbor Crafts in Leyte, South Philippines. Following the service, Harry earned his degree at East Texas State Teachers College. He was a school administrator for several schools in the Grand Prairie Independent School District, including Austin Elementary, Eisenhower Elementary and Bonham Elementary.
Harry enjoyed many various activities during his leisure time. He enjoyed hunting and fishing. Harry was a member of the Tejas Social Club while attending East Texas State Teachers College. He and Rheba were former members of the Dallas Model A Ford Club and, most recently, the Autumn Trails Model A Ford Club. Harry was an avid golfer for many years. He had the distinct pleasure of playing at Pebble Beach in California, a course in Waialac, Hawaii and at the St. Andrew’s Golf Course in Scotland. He and Rheba were members of the Sand Hills Country Club, serving as President of the Board at one point. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church in Commerce for over 39 years.
Harry is survived by his loving wife of 66 years, Rheba; his sister, Ann Sturdivant and husband, James from DeKalb, Texas; nephews Jerry Icenhower and wife, Wanda, Jim Icenhower and wife, Karen, John Icenhower and wife Jana, Max Icenhower, Joe Bullard and wife, Holly, Vaughn Bullard and wife Linda, Jim Bullard, Don Sturdivant and wife Laura, and Eddie Icenhower; nieces Betty Burris, Pat Shaw, Janis Donley, Diann Allen and husband Russ, Marsha Elliot and husband James, Denise Walker and numerous great nieces and nephews.
Preceding Harry in death were his parents, Eddie and Annie Icenhower; his brothers J.D. Icenhower, Joe Icenhower, Nolan Icenhower and James Icenhower and sisters, Venna Bullard and Glynn Bullard.
Serving as bearers for Harry will be Jerry Icenhower, John Icenhower, Jim Icenhower, Joe Bullard, Eddie Icenhower and Don Sturdivant.
Serving as honorary bearers will be Max Icenhower, Dr. Chuck Dell, Red Anderson, Sam McCord, Alex Kibler and Jerry Lytle.
“When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder….I’ll Be There.”