Former Gov. Coke Stevenson recognized by Tech

Jane Chandler, former Texas Gov. Coke Stevenson's daughter, speaks at the reception of Stevenson's artifacts exhibit on Friday in the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library. The new exhibit features papers, diaries and photographs from Stevenson's infancy until death.

Texas Tech’s Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library hosted a reception on 3 p.m. Friday in the Formby Room of the library to exhibit artifacts from former Gov. Coke Stevenson.

The collection features legal papers, diaries, archives and photographs from Stevenson’s infancy until his death.

Robert L. Duncan, chancellor of the Texas Tech University System, began the reception, talking about how excited he was for the collection.

Stevenson embodied the hard work and integrity necessary for success, Duncan said.

Every time he sees a picture of Stevenson, Duncan said he is reminded of the integrity that Stevenson brought to the Texas Legislature.

“Coke Stevenson has some of the highest integrity of any politician or attorney in Texas,” Duncan said.

The exhibit is a unique opportunity for the campus, Duncan said, and is a particularly exciting opportunity for him.

“With great pride at Texas Tech University, we welcome these papers, these documents and these archives,” Duncan said.

Andrew Murr, Stevenson’s grandson and state representative, said his grandfather is an example of what a statesman must be like.

“When you can look back on history and find an example that you can hold up, perhaps, then we can turn around and push that our children — our next generation — can obtain that example once again,” Murr said.

After introducing his family members in attendance, Murr said each of them has a different memory of Stevenson, and those memories have played a defining role in their lives.

The exhibit has a humanizing quality that everyone can go back into history and educate themselves on, Murr said. 

Murr's mother and Stevenson's daughter, Jane Chandler, recalled a few stories about Stevenson that are not often heard.

“Others will tell you about his political life,” Chandler said. “I want to tell you about the man I knew as daddy."

Stevenson grew up in a log cabin and only completed 22 months of formal education, Chandler said. He then began working on a large ranch, receiving a salary of $1 per day. 

Stevenson wrote the Driver’s License bill, Chandler said. He received the first driver’s license, and his license was No. 1.

His greatest hero was Abraham Lincoln, and Chandler said she remembers Stevenson often quoting Lincoln to her.

Chandler said one of her father's favorite quotes from Lincoln was, "Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."

“Daddy took power, came back to Kimble County and remained an honorable, humble man,” Chandler said.

In fact, he never liked being called a politician, Chandler said. Instead, he always described himself as a lawyer.

Monte Monroe, archivist at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library, talked about Stevenson’s accomplishments in such a short time.

“He quickly rose from janitor to clerk to bank president,” Monroe said. 

Stevenson passed the bar exam for law school after completing only 22 months of education and became one of the top attorneys in the state of Texas, he said.

He served two terms as Kimble County judge before serving five terms in the House of Representatives, he said. Stevenson was the only speaker of the House to serve back-to-back terms. He also served two terms as the 35th governor of Texas.

Stevenson filed candidacy for the U.S. Senate and won the early election, Monroe said. During the runoffs, he lost to Lyndon B. Johnson, which turned out to be a result of ballot stuffing.

There is no doubt that his legacy was secure within fellow Texans, Monroe said.

“Certainly, the reputation of the man they call Mr. Texas will last beyond all of us in this room,” Monroe said.

A previous article in the Daily Toreador, "Former Gov. Coke Stevenson recognized by Tech," should have read," Andrew Murr, Stevenson’s grandson and state representative, said his grandfather is an example of what a statesman must be like." The DT regrets this error.

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