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Neal Garland, 78, philanthropist and founder of LUC dies

By Bridget Ortigo
Aug. 25, 2014 at 11 p.m.


A man who was a driving force behind establishing a Longview university was remembered Monday by friends as a "remarkable person" with a "strong vision for the future."

A celebration and remembrance service will be at 2 p.m. today at First United Methodist Church of Longview to honor philanthropist Neal Garland. A reception and visitation will immediately follow the service in the Cook Foyer at the church.

"Neal Garland was a stalwart citizen who had a strong vision for the future, the capability to quietly make things happen and a smile for everyone," said University of Texas at Tyler President Rodney Mabry Monday. "He will be deeply missed in Longview and around the region."

Garland, 78, died Saturday after after suffering what his family called a "lengthy illness."

Garland was an oil and gas businessman who, along with his wife Peggy, helped bring about the University of Texas at Tyler's expansion to Longview in 1997.

"He and his wife made a considerable contribution to help bring the actual brick-and-mortar construction of the university to Longview," said former city councilman Gaylon Butler. "It was his contribution that actually got the ball rolling on bringing the center here."

A building at the Longview University Center is named Garland Hall. Garland and his wife also founded the Neal and Peggy Garland Scholarship at the campus.

"We will forever be grateful for his intelligent guidance, his faithfulness and his generosity," Mabry said.

Longview University Center Director Van Patterson applauded Garland for his dedication to the campus.

"Mr. Garland's leadership and generosity helped improve the lives of every student who attended the University of Texas at Tyler Longview University Center," Patterson said. "He was a force for good."

Butler also praised Garland's character, saying he was "very personable" and "easy to talk to."

"He was always so humble in everything he did, truly a remarkable person," Butler said.

Garland was born in Jefferson, but his family moved to Longview when he was young. He graduated from Longview High School in 1954.

An avid golfer, he played on the Longview High School varsity golf team and attended the University of Texas on a golf scholarship. He received his Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in geology in 1959.

Garland served on several boards throughout Gregg County such as the Good Shepherd Foundation, Crisman School, Trinity School of Texas, Longview Museum of Fine Arts, First United Methodist Church of Longview and Longview Ballet Theatre.

He served on the University of Texas at Tyler Advisory Board and the UT-Tyler Longview University Center Advisory Board. Garland was a founding member and was instrumental in establishing the Piney Woods First Tee program for young golfers.

He was named Rotary Citizen of the Year in 2000 and Patriot of the Year by the University of Texas at Tyler in 2008.

Garland is survived by his wife of 55 years, Peggy; daughter, Mimi Cammack; and son, James Garland, all of Longview. He also is survived by three grandchildren and two step-grandsons.

In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts can be made to First United Methodist Church, 400 N. Fredonia St., Longview, Texas 75601, or to the Neal and Peggy Garland Scholarship Fund at UT-Tyler Longview University Center, 3201 N. Eastman Road, Longview, Texas 75605.

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