Brownwood Regional Airport Hangar C served a much different purpose Saturday night as hundreds gathered to raise money for the Brownwood Education Foundation via the Lions Pride Gala.

Instead of serving as temporary housing for traveling airplanes, set in roaring 1920s New Orleans, the hangar served hundreds who gathered as Brownwood High School alumni Van Wilks and Josh Smith played an eclectic mix of bluesy music.

“This is our third annual event. The first event was a little muddy,” said Joe Young, BISD superintendent. “The weather would not quite cooperate, but we’ve come a long way since that time as an education foundation. That is because of people like you who give your time and your resources … We started out small when we started out handing grants to our teachers. We started out handing them a Coke, and we built all the way up to a $100,000 grant through the Bunning Foundation.”

The Brownwood Education Foundation, formerly the Brownwood Foundation for Excellence, was founded more than 30 years ago but steadily went dormant until 2014, when it was reorganized and in 2016 changed its name. The foundation provides grants to teachers who apply funding for curriculum, supplies, technology and field trips not typically funded through state or federal means.

“When Lori started teaching first grade, my eyes were opened to the fact that being a teacher is not an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job,” Brownwood Mayor Stephen Haynes said of his wife before introducing Betty Martin as the 2018 Legacy Award winner. “She would go to work at 7:30 a.m., get off at 4:30 p.m., go to soccer practice, come home, cook dinner and grade papers until midnight. That is what our teachers do for our students. We’re all here tonight because of some very special people that played a big part in our lives.”

Haynes presented Martin with the Legacy Award to honor her and deceased husband Don Martin, who served a combined 77 years for BISD with Don Martin working his way from math teacher to superintendent until he retired in 2001. Betty Martin followed a similar path, but focused on teaching music until she decided to get certified to be a counselor.

“It was so much fun and I got to know lots and lots of kids, lots and lots of parents and lots and lots of teachers,” Martin said. “Then I finally got my counseling certification and finished out my career as a counselor at Brownwood High School. I’ve loved every minute of it at every age group.”

Former Brownwood mayor, and lifelong resident, Bert V. Massey II received the Alumni of the Year Award for his years of dedication to local governance. Massey is the partner of law firm Massey and West and served as a Brownwood city councilman from 1978 to 1984, then served as mayor from 1984 to 2010. Massey considers his education through BISD as the foundation of what he would become in the future.

“I’m very grateful and honored to be the recipient of this alumnus of the year for Brownwood public schools,” Massey said. “Mostly because I spent every day of my public education in Brownwood public schools except for three years … I’m also very proud of being a graduate of Brownwood public schools and the education that I received there enabled me to get into the University of Texas at Austin and, to my mother’s great relief, get out.”