Don Carleton, Willie Nelson, and Bill Powers. (Photo by Brian Birzer)
Last week it was my honor to welcome back to campus the legendary Willie Nelson, who recently made a generous gift to the University that includes numerous pieces of memorabilia from throughout his career. Next time you are in DRK-Memorial Stadium, come through the North End Zone and visit the display.
This exhibit came about as the result of a friendship between Joe Jamail and Willie Nelson, who became friends because of a mutual friend, Darrell Royal. So this place really is the nexus of those three Texas legends. I want to thank the Jamail family, which supported the display with a grant from the Jamail Foundation, and to congratulate Briscoe Center for American History and Director Don Carleton, who was responsible for the acquisition and the display design.
Among the most powerful objects are the gifts that have been given to Willie by others: a head dress given to him by Native Americans; a Purple Heart given to him by the veteran who earned it, just because Willie’s music had touched him so much; a helmet from one of the firefighters who died in the West, Texas, fertilizer explosion. These gifts and others testify to the life of a truly special human being. I’m proud he will be celebrated in this space.