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ACU Remembers: Dema Lunsford

Abilene Christian University lost a longtime friend Aug. 15, as well as the matriarch of a thoughtful and visionary family responsible for some of the most iconic venues on campus, when Dema (Atkins ’57) Lunsford died at age 75 in Olney, Texas, after a lengthy illness.
Each day, members of the ACU and Abilene community enjoy the solitude of the The Quiet Place and the Lunsford Foundation Trail – both funded by members of the Lunsford family – as places to refresh and restore themselves. Olney residents Richard and Dema Lunsford provided The Quiet Place locations inside two major buildings, and their son, Holt, later chose the trail as a way to contribute to ACU’s Centennial Campaign while providing a lasting enhancement for the campus and the student body.
There are two locations for The Quiet Place at ACU: the Mabee Business Building (opened in 1986) and the Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building (1989). Each features quiet, comfortable rooms for individual or small-group devotion and reflection, furnished and decorated by the Lunsford family.
When one of the Lunsfords’ sons told his parents there was no quiet place on campus to sit, pray and reflect, “We decided we would provide a place,” Dema said in an interview in 1998 with the Abilene Reporter-News. A plaque in one of the campus spaces says the “rationale behind having an established setting such as The Quiet Place is that on a busy university campus all persons – students and faculty alike – need a place for meditation and renewal.”
Opened in 2006, the more than two-mile-long Lunsford Foundation Trail encircles the campus and provides a convenient venue for students, faculty, staff and neighbors to exercise outdoors.  Four trailheads use limestone benches, landscaping and scripture displays to enhance the experience, and other scriptures are etched into limestone pavers along the winding pathway. Most early mornings and evenings, the trail comes alive with people of all ages walking, running, biking and exercising their pets.
“I wanted to do this in honor of my parents, who have had a tremendous impact on my faith and my education and who have been involved with ACU ever since we went to school there,” Holt said in 2006 when the trail was formally dedicated. “And all of this is done to God’s glory. Any time you work to enhance God’s creation, it gives Him glory. As we improve our bodies and minds and spirits, He is pleased. As a family, we want God to receive the glory and the student body to receive the benefits.”
Dema Lunsford was born Dec. 5, 1935, in Galveston, Texas. She married Richard Lunsford (’55) June 7, 1955, and they moved from Throckmorton to Olney in 1964. She was a homemaker as well as director and counselor for Camp Cousins, and a member of Newcastle Church of Christ.
Survivors include her husband, Richard; three sons, Raymond Lunsford (’79) of San Antonio, Holt Lunsford (’85) of Dallas and Will Lunsford (’89) of Midland; two daughters, Lynette (Lunsford ’81) Nelson of Irving and Lisa Lunsford (’83) of Olney; a brother, Dick Atkins of Houston; 16 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Aug. 18 at First Baptist Church in Olney. A private burial service will follow at Restland Cemetery.
Richard and Holt Lunsford are former trustees of ACU.

The entryway to The Quiet Place in ACU's Mabee Business Building
"The Cross” trailhead on the Lunsford Foundation Trail at ACU