Memory Lane: Jane Cook Barnhill and Lareatha H. Clay

As a two-term commissioner from 1995–2007, Jane Cook Barnhill was also Vice Chair of the THC. She currently serves on the Texas State History Museum Foundation board, the University of Texas College of Education Advisory Council, the Friends of the Texas Historical Commission, and the Nau Center for Texas Cultural Heritage board. She is past president of the Friends of the Texas Governor's Mansion.

“At the first commission meeting I attended in 1995, the archeologists came to Austin with the news of the discovery of La Salle's cannon. And now I am on the Museum Foundation Board raising funds for the La Belle exhibit!

Our commissioners enjoyed each other tremendously. At the end of one long day of commission committee meetings, fellow commissioners Frank Gorman and Linda Valdez and I were headed to the hotel in Linda's nifty SUV. The radio was playing and when the fast-paced song, ‘La Bamba,’ came on, Linda slammed on the brakes and yelled ‘Get out, get out!’ She then led us in a conga-style dance around the car. We were laughing and dogs were barking. Definitely, this is a favorite memory of my time with THC. What a distinguished group of commissioners we were!

Everything we did was important. My motto referring to preservation was and still is: ‘If we don't do it, nobody will.’”

Lareatha Clay, who served as a THC commissioner from 2001–07, is a management consultant with Primary Resource Management, Inc. of Dallas. A founding member of the Shankleville Historical Society in Newton County, she is also president of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra League Innovators and serves on the board of directors of the Visiting Nurse Association and the University of Texas Ex-Students' Association. Clay was recently featured as one of “eight extraordinary Texans” (along with current THC Commissioner Tom Perini) in Texas Highways magazine, a profile that shares an incredible story of her ancestor that is also featured in our educational travel guide, African Americans in Texas: A Lasting Legacy.

“I don’t have one favorite THC memory, because of so many good ones. I enjoyed visiting all the areas of Texas, and witnessing that the claim that Texans learn in elementary school (about how Texas has everything—mountains, forests, beaches, and plains) is true. I really enjoyed meeting and building relationships with fellow commissioners and staff that last to this day. I also enjoyed playing the occasional ‘chauffeur’ to [fellow commissioners] Mamie McKnight and Frank Gorman.”

This is one in a series of “Memory Lane” blog posts in which former THC employees, commissioners, interns, and partners recall their favorite moments at the agency. It’s part of our “60 Years in 60 Days” campaign on Facebook and Twitter, which began on September 19 and leads up to November 17, the 60th anniversary of the THC.

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