Obituary: Louise Herrington Ornelas

Louise Herrington Ornelas, major benefactor to the nursing school at Baylor University that bears her name, died Dec. 18 in Tyler. She was 93.

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Louise Herrington Ornelas, major benefactor to the nursing school at Baylor University that bears her name, died Dec. 18 in Tyler. She was 93. She was born June 15, 1925, in Las Cruces, N.M., as the second of seven children to Bill and Minnie Herrington but grew up in East Texas. She dreamed of becoming a nurse, but family responsibilities kept her from realizing that ambition. Although she never became a practicing nurse, she volunteered as a Pink Lady for 30 years in Tyler hospitals. In fall 1999, she made a $13 million endowment gift to the Baylor School of Nursing, at the time the third-largest gift from an individual in the university’s history. In recognition of her long and generous support of the nursing program, the school was named the Louise Herrington School of Nursing. In April 2015, another lead gift by Ornelas made possible the purchase of the Baptist General Convention of Texas building in Dallas for use as the nursing school’s new academic home. Ornelas received multiple honors from Baylor University, including the 2015 Founder’s Medal, the Huckins Medallion and the Herbert H. Reynolds Exemplary Service Award. She was recognized as an Alumna Honoris Causa in 1992 and received an honorary Baylor nursing degree in 2000. Ornelas also supported nursing education at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, which awarded her an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree, and the University of Texas-Tyler. She received the Horatio Alger Award in 1996 and was named Volunteer of the Year in Tyler in 1989. She and her second husband, Robert M. Rogers, were co-founders of TCA Cable TV Inc. She was a member of Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler for 55 years. She was preceded in death by brothers Al and Charles Herrington, sisters Jean Lancaster and Ellen Thurman, son Robby Rogers and her first husband, Martin Eugene Pettis. Ornelas is survived by her husband of 26 years, Joseph Z. Ornelas; sister Ann Kimrey of Tyler; brother Billy Creel Herrington and wife Peggy of Tyler; sons Rick Rogers and wife Mary Jane of Simsboro, La.; Randy Rogers and wife Brenda of Bryan; Russell Rogers and wife Esther of Springdale, Ark.; daughters Becky Wangner and husband Rob of Brentwood, Tenn., Sheryl Palmer of Tyler, Cindy Scott of Chandler, Rita Seldenrust and husband John, and Andrea Wegener and husband Dave; 20 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.


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