The Barbers Hill Distinguished Alumni and Honorary Eagle program was begun in 2009 to recognize former students and individuals who have made a lasting contribution to the district, the community, and society as a whole.
Each year, a Distinguished Alumnus and an Honorary Eagle are selected based upon character traits of leadership and service, with the nominee’s personal and professional successes being an additional factor considered. Examples include:
- Active participation in community, state, or national activities
- Evidence of a lasting contribution to an organization, business, or society in general
- Exhibited leadership ability
- Distinction in personal and professional life
- Distinguished Alumni candidates must be a graduate from Barbers Hill Classes 1929 - 1990.
An Honorary Eagle is someone who is not a Barbers Hill graduate but who has had a lasting and profound effect on Barbers Hill, its students, and its community through involvement, leadership and support.
Tony Sims, Barbers Hill’s Distinguished Alumnus 2016, is the current Chambers County Auditor, a leadership coach, and successful business owner. A graduate of the Class of 1983, Tony is also a 7th generation Texan and Barbers Hill native whose family tree includes Amos Barber. He is married to Lori Sims.
“When I think of Tony Sims, two things come immediately to mind,” said BHISD Board member George Barrera. “Strong leadership, and the great feeling that a person like him is watching out for my tax dollars. To stand out as a strong leader in a county blessed with many strong leaders is really all that needs to be said, but added to that, he bleeds BLUE!”
One of Tony’s favorite classes at BH in the 1980s was Auto Mechanics, under teacher John Butler. “He was passionate about teaching and about Auto Mechanics,” said Sims. “I drove a 1968 Mustang during my school years, and this education was priceless!” Tony’s first job (through the Distributive Education class) was at the old Hathaway’s grocery store in Baytown. He supplemented his income by driving tractors in the local rice fields, and later got his first post-high school job using his auto mechanics education working for a pipeline contractor.
Over the next 20 years, Sims worked his way up in the refinery construction industry from laborer to construction manager, before going into business with his father. In 1999 his company was recognized as the Small Business of the Year in Chambers County. Today he owns Coastal Refractory Services, Inc., a quality management consulting firm.
Sims attended Sam Houston State University and Rice University Jones Graduate School of Management, and in 2014 became a Certified Public Manager. He has served as an elected and appointed county official since 2010.
Sims’ public service includes three years as County Treasurer (elected), and his current service as County Auditor, to which he was appointed in 2013 by District Judges Randy McDonald and Chap Cain. Sims has held positions leading the Chambers County Republican Party, and has served on the WCCCC Board of Directors, as a Fall Fest volunteer, Pilot Club volunteer, Junior Achievement teacher at MSS, and graduate of the Leadership Southeast Texas program.
“Whether it be orchestrating leadership seminars, or fiscal management of county monies, Tony Sims is always striving to be part of the solution,” said BH Superintendent Dr. Greg Poole. “His leadership has allowed BHISD to receive over $5 million through the management of school resources.”
As a county official, Sims has especially served BHISD and neighboring districts through his work on the Permanent School Fund Committee, which oversees County School Land in Ozona, Texas. Revenues from this land are distributed to Chambers County school districts annually, resulting in millions of dollars in revenue benefiting students in our county.
As a certified speaker, coach and mentor with the John Maxwell Team, Sims has led leadership training courses for thousands of individuals from nearly every state and many nations, as well as for Barbers Hill students.
“Everything rises and falls on leadership,” said Sims, “and I enjoy helping develop our leaders of the future!”
BHISD’s 2016 Honorary Eagle Henry Adair has a lifelong tradition of public service to education and to the community. He was born in Hunt County, Texas, in 1940 on a 40-acre cotton farm. He moved to Baytown as a youth and graduated from Robert E. Lee High School in 1959.
As a young high school graduate, Adair hitchhiked to Sam Houston State University and walked on to the football team. He lettered three years and was named to the All-Conference team in 1961. Adair graduated from SHSU in 1963, with a B.S. degree in Physical Education and Industrial Arts.
Adair’s primary area of business has been the storage, transport, and trading of hydrocarbons. He is the co-founder of Moss Bluff Storage Facility, and a builder and owner of pipelines.
“Henry Adair may be a Gander, but we claim him all the same!” said BHISD Superintendent Dr. Greg Poole. “Henry has served this community and school district through more than a dozen boards and elected positions. There are few folks that I can call on at any time, regardless of the situation, and know that help will be there. But Henry is one of those people.”
Henry moved his family to Barbers Hill in 1981 so his youngest daughter Alison could attend and graduate from Barbers Hill schools. She is a BH Eagle of the Class of 1993. Adair’s wife is Cynthia, and together they have 4 daughters, Jill, Alison, Heidi, and Angela.
A member of the BHISD School Board for 9 years, from 1987-1995 (five of those years as Board President), Adair served our district through the turbulent financial times when “Robin Hood” laws were initiated. In spite of the fact that millions of taxpayer revenues were suddenly removed from Barbers Hill by the state, under Adair’s skillful leadership, Barbers Hill remained strong.
Former Superintendent Al Dennis said of Adair in 2007, “The most important asset a man can have is to live his life in the promotion and betterment of others. Henry Adair exemplifies this. As a Board member, he promoted students and teachers through a simple pat on the back or seeking scholarships for students in need. He sought support from business and industries for “extras” for BHISD, and spent untold hours in this endeavor. He is an unselfish and outstanding supporter and leader in Barbers Hill.”
Adair was awarded the 2004 Reed Service Award by the SHSU Alumni Association, The Person of the Year recognition by the BH Homecoming and Scholarship Association in 2007, and the Baytown Sun “Unsung Heroes” Award in 2008.
Henry’s service to our district and community includes:
Member & President, BHISD School Board 1987 - 1995
Board of Directors, Barbers Hill Sports Hall of Honor
Committee Chair, Barbers Hill Veterans Memorial of Mont Belvieu
President, Sam Houston State University Alumni Association
President, Sam Houston State University Former Letterman Association
Board of Directors, Chambers-Liberty Navigation District
Chambers County Appraisal Board (currently serving a second term)
First President of the West Chambers County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors
Beach City Council member, 2 terms
Chairman, Trinity Valley Exposition
Vice President, Mont Belvieu State Bank
Vice President, Baytown/West Chambers County Economic Development Foundation
Barbers Hill Class of 1942 Salutatorian Henry Curtis “Curt” Ball has represented our school district with honor throughout his 90 years. Mr. Ball is a decorated veteran of World War 2, and his career as a mechanical engineer with ExxonMobil for 36 years was equally filled with state and national awards, along with educational and civic recognitions.
“It is absolutely amazing what Curt Ball has accomplished in a lifetime of service and achievement,” said Superintendent Dr. Greg Poole. “Barbers Hill ISD is so proud to claim Curt and Mary Ball as graduates, and I’m likewise proud to claim them as friends.”
Married for 68 years to fellow Barbers Hill graduate Marty Spillers, Class of 1945, Curt says that his greatest accomplishment in life by far was convincing Marty to marry him. After that, he feels that the professional awards which are most meaningful to him are the ones “received because of true accomplishments toward making life better for people.”
In the 1930s, Barbers Hill coach and science teacher Manton Ellis guided Mr. Ball as a young teen toward what would become a successful career as a mechanical engineer.
“Coach Ellis helped me to discover that it was very satisfying to find the reason for things,” said Mr. Ball. “I was very curious about how things worked. He was a good teacher, and a good coach. He taught us to play hard but honest, and to never quit.”
Being a part of the 1940 and 1941 Regional Champion football teams (the highest our district could achieve at the time) was a highlight of his high school years. Curt graduated at age 16 and wanted to join his two brothers in the military during World War 2, but his parents required a year of college first. He entered Texas A&M, completed his first year, then volunteered for the Army infantry in 1943.
“I was suited up and ready to go to Europe when a change of orders came in, and I was shipped to the Pacific theater instead,” said Mr. Ball.
He served there until he was severely injured in close combat in the Battle of Okinawa. He was honorably discharged at the rank of Sergeant, having earned a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
Curt returned to Texas A&M, he and Marty married, and he completed his Bachelor’s degree in 1949. At A&M, Mr. Ball was a member of the Scholarship Honor Society and the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Scholarship Association, graduating in the top 20% of his class. He and Marty were honored by the university in August this year as Endowed Century Club donors.
Mr. Ball was employed at ExxonMobil for 36 years, where he worked in both technical and supervisory positions, retiring in 1986 as an Engineering Associate. During his time with ExxonMobil, he represented the company in national societies such as the American Petroleum Institute, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American National Standards Institute, and the Board of Boiler Rules for the Texas Dept. of Labor and Standards. He earned numerous recognitions in these national and state organizations for his work in the field of piping standards and refinery equipment safety and design.
Following his retirement, Mr. Ball formed a Quality Assurance/Quality Control business with national and global clients. His work took him to regions of western Europe, Scandinavia, and Romania, as well as Asia.
In the midst of a successful career, Curt served on numerous civic boards for the City of Baytown, Goose Creek CISD, Baytown Chamber of Commerce, and Boy Scouts. He has been a member of Memorial Baptist Church for 65 years, and a deacon and Sunday School teacher for many of those years. He and Marty were privileged to be part of the vision of local Southern Baptists to acquire and develop Lake Tomahawk Baptist Encampment, serving as original signers for the note, and continuing as donors since. In 2011, they received the President’s Award from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC, for their outstanding service throughout the years.
Curt and Marty reside in Baytown and are the parents of two daughters: Robin Ball Tomkins (deceased) and Laurie Ball Chilelli, and a son, Joel Ball. They have five grandchildren and are awaiting their first great grandchild this year.
Barbers Hill ISD Superintendent 1932-1955
Jesse Justin Jenson served as the second and the longest-acting superintendent in the history of Barbers Hill ISD. Born in 1897 in Cranfils Gap, Texas, near Waco, Jenson was the son of a farming family of Scandinavian origin. He graduated from Clifton Academy in nearby Clifton, Texas, and joined the military to serve in World War I, but the war ended shortly after his enlistment. He returned to Texas and married Helen Rohne, and the couple had three children: Eugene, Myron, and Junelle, all eventual graduates of Barbers Hill in the Classes of 1937, 1941, and 1947, respectively.
“Daddy was an unsuccessful farmer, so to make ends meet, he taught at three small schools near our home,” said Junelle Jenson Kubik.
The field of education seemed a better fit for Jenson, so he attended Luther College in Iowa for one year, then finished his formal education on the Texas Gulf Coast, in one of the first graduating classes of the fledgling University of Houston. Following his graduation, Jenson served from 1929-31 as superintendent in the Crosby-Highlands school district.
Jenson came to Barbers Hill as superintendent in 1932, just one year after the high school had been officially classified by the State Dept. of Education. Within a few short years under Jenson’s leadership, the high school became fully accredited for the first time and graduates could enter college with a BHHS diploma.
From early in his career, Jenson strove to coordinate school and community activities, said Kubik, such as keeping Wednesday evenings free of school events to allow local church services to continue without school conflict. He was an avid photographer, and owned one of the only cameras in the region. Jenson used his hobby to photograph the students, staff, activities, and facilities of Barbers Hill ISD, providing one of the earliest, and in many cases the only, visual record of the district beginning in 1932. He also was known to mow the grass, drive the school bus, host student piano lessons at his home, and he even began a photography club for students in the 1930s.
In later years, Jenson opened the school on Saturdays for movie times for families, and during hurricane threats, the schools were opened as storm shelters. Jenson’s goal, said Kubik, was to build pride and a sense of ownership in the Barbers Hill schools, with the high school serving as the heart of the community.
Jenson’s greatest accomplishment, according to Ms. Jenson-Kubik, was obtaining state accreditation for Barbers Hill High School, which was achieved in the mid-1930s. A news article reported that through Jenson’s efforts, BHHS went from offering only 5 course credits to more than 17 course credits, with the addition of classes such as Algebra, bookkeeping, commercial arithmetic, plane geometry, and Spanish, among others. At the time, it was one of the largest jumps in credits ever achieved in one year by a high school.
To help establish this level of excellence, Jenson was reported to volunteer to drive teachers to classes at the University of Houston in order to help them achieve their certification, and he traveled to colleges such as East Texas Baptist College to recruit new graduates.
The oil boom that occurred in Barbers Hill in the late 1920s spurred very quick growth in the district during Jenson’s early years. By the time Barbers Hill was accredited in the 1930s, there were over 500 students in the district. State appropriations were uncertain each year, but Jenson assured the public that the district would operate on a nine-month schedule and was financially sound enough to fund that, with nearly $5000 in a fund balance and solid tax revenues, regardless of the state’s input. In fact, in the summers of 1933 and 1935, one news article reported, the elementary buildings were remodeled and furnished at a cost of $12,000, and in 1938, a vocational education building was constructed and furnished at a similar cost. No bond issues were necessary for any of these projects, as they were funded by cash on hand.
Jenson established an early taste for academic competition and rigor in Barbers Hill ISD. In the 1940s, students competed in the annual Chambers County Literary Meet, with 27 students earning awards.
“We have the idea of encouraging our pupils to take part in the literary contests in the Interscholastic League,” said Superintendent Jenson in a newspaper article. “This is the first year that Barbers Hill has won the literary contests over their competitors, Winnie and Anahuac.”
According to the news story, the trophies and medals for BH students winning those awards were made possible through appropriations by the then-current school board.
“Mr. Jenson was a very kind man,” said Marty Spillers Ball, whose entire school career was spent under Supt. Jenson’s leadership until her graduation in 1945. “On one hand, he and his family were ordinary people, but on the other hand, they set the standard for the whole district.”
Curt Ball, BH Class of 1942, remembered Jenson as well.
“He was a good leader,” said Ball. “He chose his principals well, and he had good requirements that teachers and students had to meet. And he went about it in a gentlemanly fashion.
“He picked good people he could rely on to take care of the details he could not personally do. And I think that’s still going on.”
Mrs. Elizabeth Gill, a long-time educator in BHISD, said, “My husband and I were seniors at ETBC in Marshall in the spring of 1949. I wrote letters to schools inquiring about employment. Mr. Jenson came to Marshall and interviewed us in my dorm the week before we got married. He hired us to come to Barbers Hill, which we had never seen.
“Mr. and Mrs. Jenson were known for their frugality and down-to-earth goodness. He was more tolerant than most people about other races. We observed San Jacinto Day as a holiday, and I remember in 1953 that we had a picnic down on County Lane Road where Mr. Jenson barbequed rabbits for the faculty. We had only about 25 faculty members in grades 1-8,” said Mrs. Gill.
J. Justin Jenson served the students and families of Barbers Hill for 23 years, from 1932 to 1955. He passed away in 1958, just 3 years after retiring from Barbers Hill.
Jenson carried the district of Barbers Hill through the Depression era, World War 2, gas and food rationing, war bond stamps, during the days of limited transportation and only one telephone to serve the entire district. In spite of the cultural odds, Supt. Jenson helped lay a foundation of educational excellence, sound facilities, and community involvement in Barbers Hill Independent School District that still continues today.
In 2015, we name J. Justin Jenson posthumously as a Barbers Hill Honorary Eagle. May we continue the rich tradition of learning and the deep value of community that he wisely shaped during the first two decades of this great district.
Class of 1974
Class of 1968
Class of 1965
Class of 1966
Class of 1959
Class of 1959