New Tarleton State Scholarship Honors Trailblazing Business Graduate

Namesake of a new endowed scholarship for Tarleton State’s College of Business, Charles Ann Wylie, left, and her mother , a Tarleton alumna, Claude Hickey Wylie, bottom.

STEPHENVILLE — Kari Haile’s mom broke barriers in 1943 as an award-winning Tarleton State business school graduate and followed that with success in the male-dominated field of agribusiness. Kari commemorates that determination today, Nov. 2, by establishing an endowed scholarship honoring her mother on what would be her 100th birthday.

The Charles Ann Wylie Martin Endowed Scholarship for the College of Business will be awarded to a full-time Erath County business major in good standing. Kari said establishing the scholarship seemed like the most fitting way to celebrate her mother, who died in 2018, and inspire future trailblazers.

“I grew up with the assurance that I would attend college, thanks to the foresight of my mother and the financial planning that accompanied it,” she said. “Having a scholarship in place to support other women on their educational paths is a testament to the enduring legacy that Charles Ann envisioned and her Tarleton education helped to create. It is a legacy of empowerment, encouragement and a belief in the transformative power of education.”

Charles Ann started her freshman year at Tarleton in fall 1941. Pearl Harbor was attacked Dec. 7, and when the spring semester started, few male students remained. Most had left to fight in the war, and their campus numbers continued to dwindle. 

In 1943 Charles Ann became the first woman selected for the prestigious annual Swift & Co. Award, recognizing her as the outstanding graduate from Tarleton’s College of Business. The company gave her a job in its accounting department — an offer exceptionally rare for a woman, then and for decades to come.

While that might seem like a big leap for a farm girl from Lingleville, Charles Ann had to look no further than her own mother for a role model. A 1916 Tarleton graduate, Claude Hickey Wylie racked up her own accomplishments working on the inaugural Grassburr staff, captaining the women’s basketball team and serving as senior classsecretary.

“Education was important to my grandmother and her family. She and her sister, Fayne Hickey (Class of 1923), both attended Tarleton,” Kari said. “When I asked her what she intended to do with a major in Latin and German, my grandmother replied, ‘I intended to be educated and raise educated children.’ ”

That family chain continued with Kari, who completed her marketing degree elsewhere but returned to Tarleton for grad school. She met her husband, Jim Ed Haile, at Tarleton (he proposed in front of the Dick Smith Library). He graduated in 1987 with a degree in animal science/agricultural education. Now a retired ag teacher, he works with Kari in their Stephenville real estate business.

Older son J. Wylie Haile majored in agriculture services and development. He has worked for Rodeo Houston and currently works in event management for the city of Grapevine. His brother, John Rex Haile, majored in business and is serving in the U.S. Army in Fort Riley, Kan.

“My mother’s commitment to education and her accomplishments at Tarleton State University left an indelible mark on our family,” Kari said. “In creating this scholarship, we aspire to extend the impact of her achievements, ensuring that her spirit continues to inspire and empower women to pursue education and the opportunities it brings.”

Julie Smith, College of Business Director of Development, said she loves seeing how community friendships bridge with the university to inspire student achievement and honor a life well lived.

“As a lifelong friend of Kari’s, I had the privilege of knowing Charles Ann, which makes this scholarship even more meaningful to me,” she said. “This family has been ‘bleeding purple’ since 1916. By creating an endowed scholarship, their Tarleton educational legacy will continue for generations to come.”

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