Noted West Texas Civic Leader, BA 1934
As a friend to Hardin-Simmons University, Frank Junell continually proved that no matter where life took the Simmons University student, he would always remember the friends he made and the education he received. A West Texas man through and through, he never stayed too far away from the region he loved, even while building a reputation as an upstanding businessman.
Frank Junell was born in Sulphur Springs, Texas, on October 29, 1914. He attended school in Brady where he was drum major in the high school band. He later moved with his family to Abilene, and graduated from Abilene High School in 1931. He became an important part of Hardin-Simmons University with his first steps on campus. An energetic and involved student, he was active as vice president of the freshman class, president of the sophomore class, a member of various clubs and organizations, editor of the Brand, and publicity manager for the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association. His classmates included Dr. Elwin L. Skiles, former president of HSU, Ms. Ollie Lena Olsen, daughter of long-time science professor and dean Dr. Julius Olsen, and Dr. Virginia Connally, Abilene physician and previous Hall of Leaders inductee. Thus, Frank was in good company when he began his long association with the little West Texas Baptist college known as Simmons University.
He was well-liked at school, a fact emphasized by his diplomatic editorials in the Brand, as Dr. Rupert N. Richardson noted in his Hardin-Simmons history book Famous are Thy Halls, “…one week he urged upper-classmen to be kind to freshman, and in the next paper warned freshmen not to be fresh.” He went on to earn a bachelor of arts degree from Simmons in 1934, and met his wife, Maxine (formerly Simmons), class of 1937. They married in 1935.
After graduation, Frank earned a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in Columbia and then continued at Simmons as an instructor of journalism. He and Maxine moved from Abilene in 1936 with then-HSU dean of students Dr. Dossie M. Wiggins to Texas College of Mines & Metallurgy (now the University of Texas at El Paso) as registrar and chairman of the journalism department. Frank had the distinction of teaching the first-ever journalism classes while broadcasting the Miners’ football games. He was also assistant to Dr. Wiggins until 1941, when Frank joined the many men and women serving the United States in World War II. He was a member of the U.S. Navy from 1942 to 1945, serving a second stint from 1951 to 1952 during the Korean War, and attaining the final rank of Captain in the U.S. Naval Reserve. During his interim time between service, Frank worked as a sales manager for Roderick Broadcasting Company in El Paso from 1946-48, and as assistant to Dossie Wiggins once again when the latter became president of Texas Tech University.
After returning to civilian life, Frank was welcomed back to the Forty Acres as the new financial vice president in 1952, a capacity in which he served until 1954. This began his long association with various financial institutions. He served as vice president of Citizens National Bank in Lubbock from 1955 to 1959; executive vice president of the same from 1959 to 1966; and finally, as elected president of the Central National Bank in San Angelo, Texas, in 1966 and chairman of the board in 1973. In addition, Frank also held directorships at the First National Bank of Kerrville, the First National Bank in Brownwood, Reagan State Bank of Big Lake, Coleman Bank in Coleman, First State Bank of Rankin, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
Junell was a civic as well as financial leader, serving on the boards of various organizations including as trustee of the Shannon West Texas Memorial Hospital, chairman of the board of regents of Texas Tech University, and chairman and trustee of Hardin-Simmons. He served as chairman and president of the West Texas Chamber of Commerce, on the boards of the State Missions Commission, West Texas Rehabilitation Center, and the Public Relations Advisory Committee for the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and as a member of the board of directors of the Baptist Foundation of Texas. In the midst of all his professional and civic duties, Frank was a devoted father to his three children, Rob, Dan, and Janice, and still found time for soccer games with his grandchildren.
Hardin-Simmons recognized his hard work and generous spirit by conferring upon him an honorary doctor of laws degree in 1986. In 1999 he received the Keeter Alumni Award, the highest alumni award offered at Hardin-Simmons.
Late in his career, he was noted as a West Texas powerbroker in a 1987 Texas Monthly feature, listed as San Angelo’s single source of civic power. He was recognized the same year as the Outstanding Economic Developer of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Division for his “significant leadership, his attitude, and his ability to get a job done.”
His ties with the educational community were honored by both Angelo State University and Texas Tech Law School with endowed scholarships in his name. Angelo State’s recently constructed multipurpose center also bears his name in recognition of his family’s many contributions to the institution.
Frank Junell died on October 15, 2000 at the age of 85, before he could see the completion of the Angelo State University Junell Center, or his imminent induction into the HSU Hall of Leaders. Nevertheless, his legacy will live on in the hearts of his family and in the lives of the students of each university made better by his association. His accolades are numerous and well-deserved, and we are proud to add one more.
It is the high honor of Hardin-Simmons University to recognize one of her own and to formally induct Frank Junell into the HSU Hall of Leaders.