Rolling Out the Red

Rolling Out the Red

Beautiful weather is predicted for Lamar University’s “Rolling Out the Red” Homecoming 2016, which takes place this Saturday, Oct. 29.

The 2016 Homecoming Parade kicks off a fun day of music, tailgating, family activities and Cardinal football.

The football game will cap off at 6 p.m. at Provost Umphrey Stadium when Lamar hosts Houston Baptist. The Cardinals, who look to get back on track this week, had no problem with the Huskies last year, defeating HBU 55-7.

The Homecoming Parade will begin at 1 p.m. and feature members of LU’s marching band — the Showcase of Southeast Texas — cheerleaders, dance team, numerous student and community organization floats, high school marching bands, plus Big Red and Lu, the university mascots.

The parade begins at the corner of Jimmy Simmons Boulevard and East Lavaca Street and travels east on East Lavaca, south on the MLK feeder road, west on Virginia, and ends at Virginia and Rolfe Christopher.

The Grand Marshals of this year’s parade are Bart and Martye Simmons. Both proud LU alumni Martye (Sculley) Simmons is a 1978 Accounting graduate, and Bart Simmons was 1978 Business Administration graduate who in 1979, also earned a Masters of Business Administration.

The couple has been involved with Lamar since graduating.

Both grew up in Beaumont. Martye’s father, George Sculley ’40, ’55, ’69, was a CPA who taught accounting at Lamar for nearly three decades. As a professor’s daughter, Martye came to know her parents’ friends —most of whom were fellow faculty members — and attended Cardinal football and basketball games as well as theatre productions from the time she was 5 years old.

Bart’s father was in the grocery business and worked for Stedman Co. 

When it was time to select a college, they both chose to attend Lamar.

“It just felt like home,” said Martye, who went to Beaumont High. 

Bart played football at Beaumont High, and was recruited by the likes of Baylor, University of Houston and Sam Houston State.

“I picked Lamar for the most part because of coach John Payton, who recruited me,” said Bart. “He was a complete gentleman, and I really enjoyed Vernon Glass, who was the head coach at Lamar. I still have the letter Coach Payton wrote me that thanked me for signing with Lamar. He is top of the line.”

Martye pledged Zeta Tau Alpha, and Bart became a football letterman, playing on the offensive line, and SGA president.

Though they went to high school together, they didn’t begin to date until they were at Lamar University.

“I was a sophomore and she was a freshman,” said Bart. “I had my eye on her for some time and finally asked her out the spring of my sophomore year. Thank goodness she said yes. We dated three years before we got married.”

Martye added, “I had a crush on him, and it took me a long time to get his attention. I’m glad I did.”

Both said they had many influences while at Lamar University, which helped them both become leaders.

After Bart finished his MBA, the two went to Houston to work for Texaco, then to Dallas in 1985.

Bart and a partner started their own company in 1992, Tristar Gas Marketing, which became Tristar Producer Services in 2002. The natural gas and marketing company is now an umbrella for four other ventures: Tristar Compression Co.; Mid-States Energy Co., a natural gas marketing company; Simray Oil & Gas Co., an oil and gas production company with operated wells in west and south Texas; and newest to the stable, Texas Power Co. When Tristar bought a majority ownership interest in the electric provider company in 2006, it had 4,000 customers. Today, it’s grown to about 25,000 and will continue to grow as new areas open to competition.

The companies they started have a cumulative total revenue of over $2.5 billion. Over the past 24 years they have created hundreds of jobs and employed many. Today they focus their entrepreneurial skills toward their investment company BESS Investments, their oil and gas business Tristar Companies, and their grass-fed cattle operation the 2S Ranch and store, The Provision House. The 2S Ranch became the 31st ranch in the nation to receive the USDA SVS grass-fed certification in 2015.

The Provision House is one of the very few family owned “farm to table” stores in the nation. In its first year of operation, The Provision House generated a respectable $80/square foot in revenue. The store’s online sales have already reached into seven states

“Martye and I have been in business together for nearly 25 years,” said Bart. “The education at Lamar University set the stage for that. We were able to put those tools in the toolbox from Lamar and become leaders. Professors who taught us in the Business School at Lamar were also business owners. The ethics they instilled in both of us went a long way in regards to how Martye and I handle our business. That’s a good value.”

The couple has been generous to the university. They donated funds to create the Vernon Glass Field of Champions Practice Field and the John Payton Academic Success Center. They also created the Patricia and George Sculley Scholarship in Business and the Martye and Bart Simmons Endowment in Business. In 2008, Lamar University honored Bart Simmons with the Distinguished Alumnus Award. The Simmons’ are also members of the prestigious Lamar University Spindletop Society.

“Lamar University gave us so much,” said Bart. “We wanted to be sure to give back to the community. Even though we don’t live there, we have loyalty to that community. It is very important to us thank Lamar University in a proper way.”

Both continue to rave how the campus looks now.

“The campus has been enhanced all the right ways,” said Martye. “It makes me smile just thinking about it. From the new dorms, the new administration building, the football stadium, they are all so beautiful. That makes students want to live on campus and be a part of the spirit of the school.”

Bart added that Lamar University is special. “We both are involved in different aspects of the Business School,” said Bart, who is a member of Lamar University’s College of Business Hall of Fame. “The attitude and the enthusiasm of the students are just amazing. Several of these business students have interned with many of my business clients, and they have been duly impressed with Lamar students. I am proud to be a Lamar University alumni. I take great pride in it. I wear my red shirt proudly.”

Both the Simmons said they were speechless when they found out they would be the Grand Marshals of the Homecoming Parade.

“I was blown away,” said Bart. “It’s a great honor. I never got to participate in Homecoming at Lamar because I played football, so I am really looking forward to it.”

Martye said, “We want this to be the best Homecoming. It’s so fun to bring back the traditions that we remember. I am so proud of our school.”

After the parade, there will be a Fan Fest from 2-4:30 p.m. (Wimberly Parking Lot E-2) for music, food, and Cardinal Spirit. Get your face painted at the Alumni Spirit Station, try a craft beer or a tasty treat from the food trucks, and enjoy a rocking show from local band Katie Whitney and the Draw. Admission is free and open to the public.