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ACU Remembers: Dr. William J. Teague


Dr. William J. Teague at the groundbreaking for the Biblical Studies Building on Aug. 31, 198.7
Dr. William J. Teague at the groundbreaking for the Biblical Studies Building on Aug. 31, 1987.

Dr. William J. Teague (’52), chancellor emeritus of Abilene Christian University, died in Abilene on Nov. 28, 2018, at age 91.

Funeral services are planned for Dec. 6, at 11:57 a.m. in the ACU Teague Center.

He was born July 12, 1927, in Olney, Texas, the youngest of six sons. His father died when he was 14 years old, leaving his mother to raise him by herself in Nocona, Texas. Teague sank the winning shot for Nocona High School that brought the Indians a state basketball championship in 1944. Following graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, serving four years while based in San Diego.

It was in San Diego that he met Margaret “Peggy” Louise Newlen (’56). They married June 4, 1948.


Willam J. Teague
Dr. Willam J. Teague

After his honorable discharge from the military in 1949, the couple moved back to Texas so he could continue his education at Abilene Christian. While a student, he was appointed the first manager of KACC, the campus radio station. He graduated in 1952 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Bible and speech.

He immediately went to work for then-president Dr. Don H. Morris (’24) as assistant to the president and secretary of the Alumni Association. He worked at ACU for five years before leaving to serve as vice president at both Harding University (1957-59) and Pepperdine University (1959-70).

Outside of his career in education, Teague pursued a variety of interests. He earned a master’s degree from Columbia University in 1959 and a doctorate from UCLA in 1965. In 1968 and 1970, he ran for U.S. Congressional seats in California. Teague frequently engaged in public speaking. He could be passionate and inspiring, but it was his humor that really endeared him to audiences. He was an active basketball and tennis player, but he most enjoyed spending time with his family.

During the 1970s, Teague served as vice president of two Fortune 500 companies, Purex Corporation in California and Kerr-McGee, an Oklahoma-based oil company.

Teague served as ACU’s ninth president (1981-91), and later as chancellor (1991-2007) and chancellor emeritus (2007-18). With an emphasis on fundraising, he oversaw the transformation of the campus leading to the construction of the Mabee Business Building and Onstead-Packer Biblical Studies Building, as well as the relocation of Judge Ely Boulevard. ACU’s Teague Boulevard opened in May 1992 and was dedicated in August of that year, serving as a new front entrance to the university. Across campus, the Margaret L. and William J. Teague Center was dedicated in his and Peggy’s honor in February 1999.

“Dr. Teague’s spirit of innovation is evident everywhere on campus and that influence will far outlive him,” said president Dr. Phil Schubert (’91). “He loved ACU and Christian higher education in general, and worked tirelessly to advance them. His commitment to excellence is legendary among those who knew him and were challenged to the highest standards because of his example.”

In addition to the major buildings completed during Teague’s decade as president, the university endowment increased from $18 million to $56 million. The Honors Program and ACU Press were begun; KACU became KACU-FM, a National Public Radio affiliate; short- and long-term study abroad programs were initiated in Europe, Asia and the Middle East; seven endowed chairs and professorships were established in three academic departments; a campus-wide computer system was developed; Brown Library was expanded; and the Jack Pope Fellows Program was initiated to honor Jack Pope (’34), an ACU alum and former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice. Patsy Powell Duncan (’46) became the first woman to serve as vice president, leading the university’s fundraising work. For the first time, women, Hispanics and African-Americans were elected trustees, and board membership was broadened to include non-Texas residents.

The William J. and Margaret L. Teague Excellence Award, an endowed scholarship program for students at ACU, began in 1989. In 1991, Bill and wife, Peggy, were named Christian Educators of the Year by 20th Century Christian magazine for careers of service to three Church of Christ-affiliated universities.

Teague’s commitment to building a stronger relationship between ACU and Abilene, and among its four-year colleges and universities, led to a close working relationship between those in leadership at Hardin-Simmons and McMurry.

“Dr. Teague was in the truest sense of the word a mentor to me,” said chancellor Dr. Royce Money (’64). “He gave me opportunities to expand my leadership role and gave me unlimited access to him in my time as his executive assistant in 1988 and in the three years following as the university’s provost. From that perspective, I saw him struggle with hard decisions that affected the entire university. Bill was instrumental in cooperative efforts among Abilene’s three church-related universities, and he treasured his relationship with Dr. Jesse Fletcher at HSU and Dr. Tom Kim at McMurry. Together they had a profound influence on highlighting the partnership higher education has with the city of Abilene.”

After becoming chancellor in 1991, Teague remained active on the campus until he suffered a stroke in 2002. Despite being confined to a wheelchair, he remained a regular attendee of ACU athletics and other events, as well as worship services at University Church of Christ, where he and Peggy were members. He especially looked forward to attending the university’s annual Opening Assembly on the first day of school and its patriotic Parade of Flags ceremony he began in 1986.

“Bill Teague was a man of high standards and deep passions,” said Dr. Gary McCaleb (’64), vice president of the university. “He was a man of lifelong love for his wife Peggy, and they walked side by side, each the other’s strongest and most loyal supporter. Their legacy of love for each other, for their family and for the alma mater of their family was never in doubt. And he was a competitor with a sense of humor in sports, and in life.”

Teague was preceded in death by his parents, Dudley Thomas Teague and Sudie Crane Teague; and his wife, Peggy. Among survivors are a son, Tom Teague (’71); two daughters, Susan Reid (’74) and Dr. Helen Teague (’83); and grandchildren Bill Teague and Amelia Louise Teague Wildman (’11).

In lieu of flowers, the family encourages memorials to be made to the university on behalf of Dr. William J. Teague (Gift Records, ACU Box 29132, Abilene, Texas 79699-9132) or give online

Honorary pallbearers (*posthumous): *Thurmon Andress, Grady Barr, *Garvin Beauchamp (’41), Tucker Bridwell, Joe Ed Canon, Scott Dueser, Dr. Ian A. Fair (’68), *Doug Ford, *Dr. Lewis Fulks (’48), Ron Hadfield (’79), David Hejl (’71), *Fred Lee Hughes, Dr. Robert Hunter (’52), *Robert James, Hutton Jones (’81), *John Jordan, Jack Kiser (’71), *Joe Mabee, Dr. Gary McCaleb (’64), *Bill McMinn, Dr. Jack McManus, *John Michener, *Dr. Byron Nelson, *Dr. Charles Nelson, G. Randy Nicholson (’59), *Frank Puckett, Richard Shough, Bill Senter, Dick Spaulding, *Dr. John C. Stevens (’38), *Bob Tiffany, *W.R. Tincher, Jimmy Tittle (’49),*Dr. Charles Trevathan, Mike Waters, *Hon. Louie Welch (’40), *Jerry Williams, *Jerry Wilson (’71), Bill Wright and H.C. Zachry.

1991 ACU report The Changing of the Watch: People and Programs of the Past Decade, 1981-91

1983 profile of Dr. William J. Teague in West Texas Business magazine

1982 Inaugural Address of Dr. William J. Teague

1983 profile of Dr. William J. Teague in ACU’s Prickly Pear yearbook

1990 column by Dr. William J. Teague in ACU Today magazine

1985 profile of Dr. William J. Teague in ACU’s Prickly Pear yearbook

1990 profile of Dr. William J. Teague in the Abilene Reporter-News

Undated interview with Dr. William J. Teague

2005 Centennial-year profile of Dr. William J. Teague in The ACU Century

1991 profile of Dr. William J. Teague in the Abilene Reporter-News

— Ron Hadfield

Dec. 5, 2018

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