Family tradition
At least one Latham family member has taught at or attended UTA every decade since the 1940s

by Sherry Wodraska Neaves

In the fall of 1945, Willard Latham stepped off the bus in downtown Arlington, shouldered his suitcase, and began walking west. Along with childhood friend Weldon Hamm, he had come from the East Texas community of Linden to attend college—but he wasn’t even sure about the school’s official name.

“We don’t know what the UTA-Latham link will be in the seventh decade. But history indicates there will be one.”

“Pretty soon we came to a big iron gate that read ‘North Texas Agricultural College,’ ” he said. “That’s the first time I knew the name.”

They came because NTAC (now UTA) was a military school. World War II was winding down and the two 17-year-olds wanted to enlist, “but my mother wouldn’t sign the papers,” Latham said. “We saw the school as the only honorable way to acquit ourselves. Plus we’d be able to wear uniforms.”

After he turned 18, Latham left NTAC for a two-year cruise in the Navy. But he came back, as did at least one member of the Latham family, for the next five decades.

Upon his return to school in 1948, Latham met Myra Nell (Mikey) Turner, and they married in June 1949, just after his graduation and commission as a U.S. Army officer. Over the years, Will and Mikey, along with their seven children, served at posts around the world, with Will steadily moving up to the rank of major general. In 1957, then-Capt. Latham returned to Arlington State College to serve as an assistant professor of military science.

The 1960s brought Will’s younger brother, Rex, to Arlington State College (now UTA). He also decided to pursue a military career, joined ASC’s Sam Houston Rifles drill team and went on to become a Distinguished Military Graduate.

Rex was soon called upon to lead troops of the Army’s elite 82nd Airborne Division. He first served in the Dominican Republic, then in Vietnam and Thailand. At age 26, he left the Army and began working for the Central Intelligence Agency, where he served for 27 years, ultimately becoming the equivalent of a brigadier general. Rex’s assignments frequently took his family to Asia, punctuated by periodic stops in Washington, D.C.

He retired in 1998, last serving as deputy division chief for counterintelligence for one of the CIA’s largest divisions. “I found my ASC education prepared me well for both the Army and the CIA,” he said.

In the 1970s, Will and Mikey’s children began making their way to The University of Texas at Arlington. Will’s son, Mark, another Distinguished Military Graduate, earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and promptly joined the Army, where, after three years, he volunteered for the Special Forces. Today Lt. Col. Latham is assigned to NATO and serves as a special operations staff officer at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Belgium.

Two more of Will and Mikey’s children, Cynthia and Thomas, graduated from UTA in the 1980s. Then their youngest, Sara, and Rex’s son, Rey, enrolled in the 1990s. Sara received a bachelor’s degree in English in 1996 and a master’s in English in 2000, and Rey graduated last December with a bachelor of arts in graphic design.

So which Latham comes next?

“We don’t know what the UTA-Latham link will be in the seventh decade,” said Rex, who, along with brother Will, is a UTA distinguished alumnus. “But history indicates there will be one.”



Springing forward
Graduate students lead the way in spring enrollment increase
Graduate students like Ruby Ruperto and her Contemporary Science classmates significantly boosted University enrollment for spring 2001, the fifth consecutive semester of enrollment increases.

Writing for the Digital Age
New  tools and technologies are taking one Honors English class online and into the future
When students in Martin Danahay’s Honors English class get ready to work, they don’t pull textbooks out of their backpacks. Instead, they each slide a thin, black Toshiba laptop onto their desk, flip up the cover and log in to UTA’s first completely wireless class.

Worldwide welcome
International recruitment efforts are expected to pay long-term dividends
New faces, from places all over the world, keep coming through the UTA front door. And, with continuing international recruitment efforts, the University is keeping the welcome mat on the doorstep.


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