For biographical stories on each recipient, see the Baylor Line story Honoring Achievement.
On Friday, January 15, 2010, at 7 p.m., the Baylor Alumni Association bestowed the Distinguished Alumni Award upon four Baylor graduates — Dr. James Kroll, Dr. Rebekah Ann Naylor, Bob R. Simpson, and Robert C. Zamora — at a black-tie banquet in the Cashion Academic Center on the Baylor University campus. A reception prior to the banquet started at 6 p.m. Presented annually since 1965, the prestigious award honors Baylor graduates whose records of service have merited the honor and acclaim of peers and colleagues.
Dr. James C. Kroll is director of the Columbia Regional Geospatial Service Center and the Henry M. Rockwell Professor of Forestry at Stephen F. Austin State University. He earned two degrees from Baylor, a BA in 1969 and a MS in 1970. Kroll, widely known as “Dr. Deer,” is a regular contributor to the Sportsman’s Channel, the Men’s Channel, and to Texas Hunter’s and North American Whitetail magazines.
For the past few decades, Kroll has focused on creating and implementing the Forest Resources Institute (FRI), which aimed to gather information about forestry, forest research, and wildlife using geospatial technology. But his vision stretched much farther than animals and forestry — in February 2003, Kroll used geospatial technology to map the debris from the Columbia space shuttle that literally fell over his house. Kroll’s technology is widely used today in mapping features on the surface of the earth.
Dr. Rebekah Ann Naylor is a surgeon at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Fort Worth and a former medical missionary in Bangalore, India. She graduated from Baylor in 1964 and later became the first woman to graduate from the surgical program at UT Southwestern Medical School.
Naylor has always had a passion for helping those in need. In the 1970s, she traveled to Bangalore, India, where she served as a medical missionary for twenty-eight years in the Bangalore Baptist Hospital. In 2002 she returned to Fort Worth, becoming the director of student education in the department of surgery, as well as a professor and mentor, at UT Southwestern Medical Center. This year Naylor continues her service as a caregiver, as she returns to the Baptist Global Response as a health care consultant.
Bob Simpson is chair and co-founder of XTO Energy Inc., a nationally recognized company in Fort Worth. He graduated from Baylor in 1970 and earned a master’s degree in 1971. Simpson found a passion for the business world at an early age, working his way up the ladder at corporate giants such as Merrill Lynch, Arthur Andersen, and Southland Royalty Company.
In 1985, Simpson co-founded the small, seven-member Cross Timbers Oil Company, later renamed XTO Energy, with the premise of acquiring oil and gas production and hiring good people. XTO Energy now has twenty-four hundred employees nationwide and was recently sold to Exxon Mobil in an all-stock deal for $31 billion. Simpson continues to serve his community as co-chair of various events through the Careity Foundation.
Robert C. Zamora is a retired superintendent of South San Antonio ISD. A 1965 graduate of Baylor, Zamora overcame many challenges throughout life. As the son of non-English-speaking migrant workers, Zamora’s education was important, but not deliberate. His passion and talent resided in sports: a basketball player, an all-state baseball player, and even a lead pitcher as a freshman in high school.
Zamora had no intention of going to college, but he was recruited by Baylor’s baseball and basketball teams. Athletics carried him through graduation and even led him into another academic arena, coaching at his alma mater, South San Antonio High School. He found his way into educational administration, eventually being named superintendent. Zamora retired in 2002 and continues to serve as an advisor to South San ISD as associate superintendent.
These distinguished alumni were introduced by special friends at the banquet. Dr. Sydney Kroll Register, clinical psychologist at the Veterans Affaris Medical Center in Waco, gave the introduction for Dr. James C. Kroll, and Dr. O. S. Hawkins, president and CEO of GuideStone Financial Resources and former pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, introduced Dr. Rebekah Ann Naylor. Bob R. Simpson was introduced by Dr. Lane G. Collins, retired professor emeritus of accounting at Baylor. E. E. “Dutch” Schroeder, former Baylor baseball coach, introduced Robert C. Zamora.
To nominate someone for the Distinguished Alumni Award — or for one of the other awards given annually by the Baylor Alumni Association — go to Alumni Awards.