Richard can trace his West Texas roots back to the 1870s, and he inherited a family history of supporting ASU that started with his grandfather, Sol Mayer, who helped relocate the campus to its current location and whose name now adorns the Mayer Administration Building. Richard’s most recent contribution was of the monetary kind as he funded the artificial turf field, new grandstand and new press box that have turned ASU’s Mayer Softball Complex into a premier sports venue.
“There was a real need to cut down on the cost of watering the field during the water shortage,” Richard said. “I was glad to do it for the softball team, but the main reason was to reduce the consumption of water by the university, and it has really paid off.”
“Also, the grandstand was needed to get more people to come to the softball games,” he added, “which I think it has done. It helps a lot with the sun.”
Unfortunately, Richard forgot to tell B.J. about his contributions, which she later read about in the newspaper. But he made it up to her by letting her throw out the first pitch at the new field, where he still regularly shows up to cheer on the Rambelles.
B.J. first became involved at ASU taking adult education night courses, including art and history, as well as computer classes so she could make sure her two sons, John and Kenneth, were computer savvy before they went to college. In 1997, she helped relocate the first set of historical documents for what has become the ASU West Texas Collection.
“The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) had a whole set of lineage books that were really valuable,” B.J. said. “They were stored at the Tom Green County Library, but when the library developed a roof leak, we were told we had to move the books from their storage area in the attic. So I asked the ASU librarian, Joe Bill Lee, if ASU would take them.”
“We figured ASU was a good place to keep the books because then people could come to a nice library and use them,” she added. “So he took the books, and that’s how the West Texas Collection was started. Shortly after that, the Legislature designated ASU a book depository for West Texas histories, and I was on the first board. Several years later, new library director Dr. Maurice Fortin had the idea to start the Friends of the Library organization.”
B.J. remains on the board as president of the Friends of the Library and West Texas Collection. Additionally, the Mayers have funded multiple academic and athletic scholarships at ASU and continue to support the Ram Club and annual ASU Coaches Clinic. They also joined with other family members to fund construction of the state-of-the-art Mayer-Rousselot Agriculture Education Training Center that opened at the ASU Ranch in 2014.
For their tireless and ongoing support of ASU, the Mayers are being honored this year by the ASU Alumni Association. B.J. has been named an Honorary Alumna, and Richard has been recognized as the Golden Ex of the Year.
“When I went to school here, it was still a junior college,” Richard said. “So I have been able to see it grow into a four-year college. I like to watch it grow, and it has become a really good university.”
Married now for 51 years, San Angelo native Richard Mayer met Betty Joe Clark of Beaumont in Houston when he was flying and working there for an aviation company. They soon moved back to West Texas, where Richard started a local charter flying service and later got into ranching and the oil business, and B.J. became actively involved in the San Angelo community.
Both also led interesting lives prior to their involvement with ASU. Richard spent four years in the U.S. Naval Air Corps and then graduated from Embry Riddle Aeronautical Institute (Florida) in 1962. While living in Houston, he regularly flew gliders with astronaut Neil Armstrong and several other pilots, earning the Symons Wave Memorial Award. Back in San Angelo, he officiated junior high, high school and Lone Star Conference sports for 45 years, and he has been named a James E. West Fellow for his longtime support of the Boy Scouts of America. He is also active in the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo Association.
Meanwhile, B.J. traveled with the famous singing group, The Melody Maids, under the auspices of the USO, including one trip with Bob Hope, to entertain U.S. troops all over the world during the mid- 1950s. She once had to parachute out of their plane when the engines failed over Greenland. She was a classmate of former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith at Southern Methodist University, where she once showed up in a Dallas Morning News photo of a campus panty raid. She graduated from SMU in 1960 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and two teaching certifications. She remains active in the DAR, Junior League of San Angelo and several other local organizations. She and Richard are members of the First United Methodist Church.
“When I went to school here, it was still a junior college. So I have been able to see it grow into a four-year college. I like to watch it grow, and it has become a really good university.”
Richard still likes to fly. He owns a King Air airplane and pilots them on trips to their second home near Gunnison, Colo., and to various out-of-state ASU sporting events. They also enjoy traveling through the University Travel Club and have been all over Europe, as well as to Israel, Egypt and New Zealand.
But no matter where they go, the Mayers take an affinity for ASU with them.
“I call ASU a sleeper school,” B.J. said. “It’s not really well known all over the U.S., but it’s a place where you can go and get a very good education—almost one-on-one with your professors. ASU has more to offer in the way of academics because of that. We have a great channel for students going into medical school, physics and many other areas.”
“Also, I can walk across campus and the students say hello, they open the door for you and ask if you need help with anything,” she added. “You just don’t find that anywhere else, and I really like that atmosphere. They came here to learn, but they still have manners and greet you with a smile. Chivalry is not dead at ASU.”