Don and Katy Houseman Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Business
Less than a year earlier, Houseman’s infantry unit had been overrun during the Battle of the Bulge. His right forearm was filled with shrapnel, and later that day he took a machine gun round in the leg and was captured by the Germans. They eventually sent him to a hospital, where his arm became so painful he asked for an amputation. Another American prisoner, a doctor employed by the Nazis, was fortunately able to secure the new antibacterial drug sulpha, which saved his arm.
But there was a hitch. No business major could graduate without taking Professor Bill Boyd’s exacting class. “He was famous because he was so tough,” Houseman says. “Everything had to be fitted perfectly in proportion to the page.”
Houseman’s typing proved so slow that he simply could not do the work. But Boyd, who had also served in the military, took a liking to him and allowed him to write the letters longhand — with his left hand. Though difficult for a natural right-hander, he wrote the letters and graduated.
He joined his father’s insurance company in Dallas and built on its success, never forgetting the hand up his professor had given him. In 2003, then 80, he and his wife named the McCombs School of Business as a beneficiary of a life insurance policy. Following Don’s lifetime, this planned gift will be added to the Don and Katy Houseman Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Business, which the Housemans have already begun funding.
Now 92, Houseman says, “I’m very proud to have graduated from The University of Texas, and if I can help others get an education and have opportunities I’ve had, I’ll do it.”
As he slowly regained limited use of his right hand, Houseman lost the ability he acquired at UT to write with his left, just as the German he learned as a POW faded as the decades rolled by. But when he wrote a memo describing his scholarship, the formatting was perfect.
Update March 5, 2019
Don Houseman passed away in 2016 and, true to his word, a generous distribution from his life insurance policy has made it possible for more students to receive scholarship support.