Carol and Don Meyer have made a habit of positively impacting their community.
Whether it be through the couple's tireless work with a San Antonio-based non-profit that provides scholarship support for inner city students or through their significant philanthropy to Texas A&M, the Meyer family routinely answers the call to make a difference.
Texas A&M athletics and the 12th Man Foundation are among the groups that have been grateful beneficiaries of the Meyer family's generosity. Don and Carol, both members of the class of 1978, have graciously supported a number of A&M teams, including football, basketball and baseball.
True to form, however, their most recent--and substantial--pledge will benefit an A&M program in dire need of facility improvements. The Aggie softball team, which has hosted games for 22 years in the rapidly aging and outdated Aggie Softball Complex, is slated to receive a sparkling new facility in advance of the 2018 season.
"The desire to support all sports is something that played a part in our decision to give to softball," said Don, who graduated with a degree in animal science. "So much has been given to other sports, but we felt this team has been a little overlooked. Our softball student-athletes are great ambassadors of our school, and they deserve a great facility. So, when the opportunity to give to softball came up, we were on board 100 percent."
Their pledge was the most recent example of how the lives of Carol and Don have long been intertwined with Texas A&M. Carol's grandfather owned a shoe repair shop in College Station for many years, and her father, Anthony Cangelosi, enrolled at A&M in the early 1940s before interrupting his education to serve in World War II. While he was overseas, Carol's mother, Anthonette, worked on campus inside the Administration Building. Anthony eventually returned to A&M and earned his degree in 1947.
Don, meanwhile, enrolled as a first-generation Aggie, but has always maintained close ties with his alma mater. After graduating, Don took a job with Albertson's in California, where he worked with the grocery chain's fresh beef receiving operation. But Carol was hesitant to move away from Texas after the couple married in 1979, so Don returned to the Lone Star State and began working for Carol's father, who owned an insurance agency in San Antonio.
Twenty-seven years later, Don and two brothers-in-law sold the agency to a large insurance holding group. Don and Carol continue to live in San Antonio, and Don is still involved in the business as president of Hallmark Specialty Underwriters.
Carol, an education graduate from A&M, was a middle school teacher in San Antonio for five years before the couple started a family. Both of their children--son, Ryall, and daughter, Sarah--eventually came to Aggieland as members of the class of 2005 and class of 2011, respectively. Ryall and his wife, Lauren, an Oklahoma graduate, have two children, Trace and Hallie.
Family has long been paramount in their lives.
In fact, one of the Meyers' first major gifts to Aggie athletics was given in memory of Carol's parents. The Anthonette and Anthony '44 Cangelosi scholarship endowment was created in 2014. Now termed the 1922 Fund, philanthropic endowments support scholarships for student-athletes.
"A&M has given us so much," said Carol. "When it comes down to it, education is the most important thing someone can have, and student-athletes give so much of their time and talents to our school. If we can help support them to earn that diploma and Aggie ring, then that is what we want to do."
The Meyers have also created a pair of endowments in A&M's College of Education via the Texas A&M Foundation. One is a scholarship for a student studying to be a special needs educator, which was inspired by one of Carol's brothers, who was born with cerebral palsy.
Season ticket holders at Kyle Field since the 1980s, the Meyers have done more than just donate from a distance. They have embraced the challenge of helping grow the 12th Man Foundation's pool of major givers. The couple has been involved with the Foundation's Champions Council group for several years, even serving as longtime captains of the San Antonio chapter and hosting numerous events in the Alamo City.
"We have met a lot of people and in part have turned from the givers to part-time fundraisers as we invite folks to come to our events in San Antonio and encourage them to be involved with the 12th Man Foundation," said Don. "Along with that, we have met several people who have become great friends, and it's been a great benefit in being able to expand our universe of Aggie friends who we didn't know before.
"But really, more important than anything is providing for our student-athletes. Athletics is the outward-facing advertisement for Texas A&M. Sports are most people's first encounter with a school, whether it be football, basketball, soccer, softball, track or any other sport. It's what helps give any university its identity, and we want A&M to have the strongest identity possible so it can flourish in all areas."
Their involvement has come at a crucial time.
A&M stepped into the hyper-competitive Southeastern Conference in 2012 and was pegged by many in the media to flounder in athletics. Instead, A&M's players and coaches have flourished, thanks in part to an exceptionally generous donor base that has given at mesmerizing levels in recent years. Last year, every Aggie team advanced to postseason competition while nine teams and 314 student-athletes posted a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
Because of donors like Don and Carol Meyer, A&M athletics' support structure will remain strong for years to come.
"Don and Carol have provided a solid foundation for our activities in San Antonio," said Clint Dempsey, 12th Man Foundation vice president of major gifts and planned giving. "They are extremely generous with their time, leadership and, of course, gifts to support or student-athletes. I am grateful they have a passion to not only win in all sports, but to see the students succeed in the classroom and throughout their life with the foundation provided by a degree from Texas A&M."
When it comes down to it, education is the most important thing someone can have, and student-athletes give so much of their time and talents to our school. If we can help support them to earn that diploma and Aggie ring, then that is what we want to do."