Celebration of life service planned for longtime Tarleton theater professor

STEPHENVILLE (February 1, 2018) — A celebration of life service for Dr. Mary Jane “MJ” Boyle Mingus, professor emerita and distinguished faculty recipient at Tarleton State University, is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 10, at the Clyde H. Wells Fine Arts Center on the school’s Stephenville campus.

A reception for former colleagues, students and friends follows.

Mingus died Aug. 3, 2017, at 81. She retired from Tarleton in 1997 after more than 30 years of service. The Mary Jane Mingus Library in the fine arts center is a tribute to her dedication and love for the university and theater.

She came to Tarleton in 1964 and was instrumental in laying the foundation for the university’s theatrical arts programs and ushering in a new era for theater students with the opening of the storied $7.5 million Clyde H. Wells Fine Arts Center.

When Mingus arrived, she received less than $100 and was told to “go do theater” on a tiny stage affectionately referred to as “The Studio.” She learned to improvise, using scraps, rejects and hand-me-downs to create costumes.

Over the next 34 years, she saw the Department of Fine Arts & Speech build a reputation for developing gifted students and quality shows.

During her tenure, the department progressed from two speech communication courses to the current varied curriculum and received approval from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for a bachelor’s degree in fine arts.

Professional involvement in the U.S. Institute of Theatre Technology (USITT) and the Texas Educational Theatre Association (TETA) earned her national recognition as an educator and costume designer.

Mingus was instrumental in negotiating with the University Interscholastic League (UIL) to name Tarleton as a host site for regional contests. For more than 30 years, students who advanced to the regional level in basketball, golf, tennis, one-act play and academic contests were hosted on the Stephenville campus.

The UIL contests served as a successful recruiting tool for thousands of students and helped make Tarleton a household name among teachers and coaches across the state. Mingus served as regional director.

The 1999 recipient of Tarleton’s Distinguished Faculty Award, Mingus’ honors are numerous, including the TETA Founder’s Award and the Student Life Award from the former Tarleton Division of Student Services. She is one of only 10 recipients of the Presidential Award of Merit from Tarleton and earned the Jack & Louise Arthur Distinguished Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Mingus was a lifetime member of Alpha Gamma Delta and founder of Tarleton’s Epsilon Upsilon chapter. She was a member of the Purple Poo, Tarleton’s cherished spirit organization.

Mingus was born Oct. 8, 1935, in Youngstown, Ohio, to Edward Bernard Boyle and Mary Stewart Jennings (Woodard) Boyle. She grew up in Warren, Ohio, as well as Sanford, Fla., where she graduated from Seminole High School.

She attended Brenau University in Gainesville, Ga., for her undergraduate degree and then worked at the Dallas Theatre Center, earned her master’s from Baylor University and later a Ph.D. in theater from Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio.

In 2008, Mingus moved to Baldwin City, Kans., to be closer to family and share her experience and love for theater with the Baldwin City Community Theatre, impacting the lives of untold hundreds.

She is preceded in death by her husband, George Edward Mingus, mother and father, and a daughter, Amanda Michael Mingus. Survivors include her daughter, Samantha Cheek and husband Doug, of Baldwin City, Kans.; two grandchildren, Drew Cheek of Lawrence, Kans., and Sydney Cheek of Baldwin City, Kans.; a sister, Dr. Kathleen Boyle Bond of Parkville, Mo.; four nieces and two nephews.

Funeral services took place Aug. 12, 2017, at Baldwin First United Methodist Church. Memorial contributions may be made to the Mary Jane Mingus Scholarship Fund at Tarleton State University, Box T-0260, Stephenville, TX 76402.

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