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
collegebut he wasnt even sure about the schools
We dont 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. Thats 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 wouldnt
sign the papers, Latham said. We saw the school as the
only honorable way to acquit ourselves. Plus wed be able to
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
The 1960s brought Wills
younger brother, Rex, to Arlington State College (now UTA). He also
decided to pursue a military career, joined ASCs Sam Houston
Rifles drill team and went on to become a Distinguished Military
Rex was soon called upon
to lead troops of the Armys 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. Rexs 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 CIAs largest divisions. I found my ASC
education prepared me well for both the Army and the CIA,
In the 1970s, Will and
Mikeys children began making their way to The University of
Texas at Arlington. Wills son, Mark, another Distinguished
Military Graduate, earned a bachelors 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
Two more of Will and Mikeys
children, Cynthia and Thomas, graduated from UTA in the 1980s. Then
their youngest, Sara, and Rexs son, Rey, enrolled in the 1990s.
Sara received a bachelors degree in English in 1996 and a
masters in English in 2000, and Rey graduated last December
with a bachelor of arts in graphic design.
So which Latham comes next?
We dont 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