Dr. Mike Smith, President - 903.589.7106 -

Friendships that Last

Leland Callaway, Don Collins, and Gene Medley attended Jacksonville College in the 1950’s. Although they were never enrolled at the same time, they knew each other from various church camps, activities at church, and related meetings. However, in the summer of 1958, all three men were living in Jacksonville in JC’s old Memorial Hall. During that time, they also worked together in the “Tomato Shed,” the “Peach Shed,” and other part-time summer jobs. The three young men became very close friends, and they stayed in contact for the next few years.

In the fall of 1967, all three found themselves living in West Texas. All three were married by then. Leland and Val had small children, as did Don and Linda, while Gene and Martha were thinking about starting a family. As Thanksgiving approached, Leland and Don knew they did not have the money to travel back to Arkansas and East Texas to be with family for the holidays, so all three couples decided to get together for their own Thanksgiving celebration. That was the beginning of a lifelong tradition.

For the past 50+ YEARS IN A ROW, the Callaways, Collinses, and Medleys have shared old stories, laughter, tears, and food together at Thanksgiving. Their paths seem to be ordained to keep them in fellowship as changes in pastorates and other career opportunities have placed them together in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Mississippi. Don Collins was called home in 2011, but the three families, now over 57 members and still adding, continue to celebrate Thanksgiving together. As the old saying goes, “Friends are the family we choose.” Because of their time together at Jacksonville College, three guys chose to be friends, and they became a lifelong family.

For the past seven years, Susan and I have traveled to West Texas to speak in churches and associations, sharing what God is doing at Jacksonville College. On our travels, we could lodge at the Holiday Inn, but we choose to stay at the inn of Gene and Martha Medley in Lubbock. Though it is economical and serves the best food in town, the fellowship is what makes the inn outstanding. The Medleys think nothing of opening their home to six to nine people at a time. They are valuable supporters of Jacksonville College in many ways. Yes, Gene, friends are the family we choose.

Linda Collins, Martha and Gene Medley, and Leland and Val Callaway enjoying JC Homecoming 2016 with Wilma and James Schoenrock, Bob and Glenda McMakin, Ricky and Priscilla Williams, and Jeanette Aultman.


God has blessed Jacksonville College in many ways. He has blessed us with an increased enrollment and a growing online program. A number of our students have made a profession of faith, and several recent JC graduates are now serving in the ministry. We are also blessed by generous donors like you.

The last part of the word "Thanksgiving" is GIVING. We give because God first gives to us. Jacksonville College is preparing for the decennial reaffirmation of our accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) in 2019, and it is very important that we finish 2018 financially strong. Please consider some of the ways you can help Jacksonville College during this season of GIVING.


This is an offering promoted by the BMA of Texas churches and is divided among the five departments of the BMA of Texas. Jacksonville College is one of the departments.


Thursday, November 22, 2018 is Thanksgiving Day. When you gather as a family and offer thanks to God for your blessings, please pray for Jacksonville College. I am sure you have heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. This year, please consider donating to Jacksonville College on Giving Tuesday, November 27. Our goal is to raise $40,000 from our alumni, churches, and friends. We will continue to receive gifts after November 27, but we need your gift by the end of December. Our goal is to raise $40,000 from our alumni, churches, and friends before the end of the year. You can online or through the mail at Jacksonville College, 105 B.J. Albritton Drive, Jacksonville, TX 75766.

How to give online:

1) Go to the Jacksonville College website at