Koreen Willcox Logsdon Hemphill
Koreen Jean Willcox Logsdon Hemphill was born October 28, 1906, in Temple, Texas, to George E. and Mable Willcox, a pioneer ranching family. She grew up in the Elbow community, southwest of Big Spring, Texas. She graduated from Big Spring High School, and in 1927, enrolled at Simmons University (now Hardin-Simmons University).
As a student, Koreen became a member of the HSU Cowgirls in 1931 and maintained her membership in the group’s alumni organization through the years. She attended Simmons through the fall of 1932, when she married fellow student, Charles W. Logsdon Jr. They were married on October 14, 1932, by the renowned Baptist minister, Dr. George W. Truett, then pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas.
Koreen and Charles followed in the footsteps of their parents, operating a ranch just north of Abilene as well as ranch land in Andrews County.
A woman of unimpeachable character, Koreen was a dedicated member of First Baptist Church of Abilene for 70 years.
Koreen was a member of the Cora Posey Chapter of Order of the Eastern Star, having served as Worthy Matron. She was a lifetime member of the Abilene Woman’s Club, was a member of the John Davis Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and the Benjamin Blackburn Chapter of Colonial Dames.
She was the first recipient of the annual award of Outstanding Philanthropist of the Abilene Area by the Abilene Chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives.
Koreen served as a member of the HSU Board of Development, the HSU School of Music Foundation Board, and was a lifetime member of the Presidents Club.
In 1987, Hardin-Simmons University named her the recipient of the John J. Keeter Jr. Alumni Service Award, the highest honor that may be bestowed on an alumnus.
Following her husband’s death in 1981, Koreen honored his request to provide resources for Hardin-Simmons to endow a school of theology. The transfer of properties, along with mineral rights, amounted to a gift of more than $5 million that would endow the Mr. and Mrs. Charles W. Logsdon School of Theology and fund the building for the school. Charles’s sister, Grace Katherine White, provided $300,000 for the Visser-Rowland pipe organ now located in Logsdon Chapel in memory of her brother. Grace Katherine and Koreen were on hand for the groundbreaking ceremonies for the new building.
On February 18, 1989, Koreen married Dr. Lee Hemphill, a 1929 HSU alumnus, former trustee, and vice president emeritus. They were the first couple to be married in the newly completed Logsdon Chapel, which had been dedicated on January 28, 1989. The wedding ceremony was performed by Dr. Jesse C. Fletcher, who has described Koreen as the epitome of Christian grace, humility, stewardship, and generosity.
In 1989, the Hemphills established the Logsdon Chair of Church Music at Hardin-Simmons University with a $500,000 gift in honor of Charles Logsdon. They were made members for life of the HSU School of Music Foundation in 1998, following their $1 million gift that resulted in the Hemphill Music Building.
Around the time of the dedication of the Logsdon School of Theology in 1989, Koreen was described in a newspaper article:
“standing quietly at the rear door of a new HSU classroom, unobtrusively observing the students she called her ‘children.’ Tears of joy welled up in her eyes as she watched a young theology major practicing his preaching skills before several professors. She didn’t say anything, but her smile and tears spoke volumes. They spoke of the same type of pride a young mother feels when she overhears her daughter reciting Bible verses, or singing ‘Jesus Loves Me’ to her dolls. They spoke of the pride of knowing that [the] seeds she and her late husband [had] planted [had begun to produce] fruit. And they spoke of the gratitude she [felt] to God for the financial blessings which enabled the childless couple to have such a profound impact on the lives of literally thousands of HSU students—many yet unborn.”
The article further stated, “Once they meet the petite, 82-year-old woman with a cherubic face and childlike voice, not even the most mature seniors object to being called ‘children’ by this matriarch of the faith.”
Koreen died on January 26, 2002, at the age of 95, having left a legacy of faith that continues to reach into untold future generations of believers.