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Willbern, Roy, 1917-2007



  • Existence: 1917 December 8 - 2007 July 9
  • Existence: 1917-12-08 - 2007-07-09


Roy Willbern was born December 8, 1917 in Runge, Texas. He graduated from Southwest Texas State Teachers College (now Texas State University) in 1938 with a bachelor’s degree in speech. In 1942 he received his master’s degree in education. Willbern went on to teach speech in high school and serve in the infantry of the United States Army. He attended law school at South Texas College of Law, graduating in 1951, and practiced as an attorney for more than 30 years in Houston. Upon his retirement, Willbern returned to Southwest Texas State University to receive his master’s degree in English in 1987.

While a student at Southwest Texas State Teachers College Willbern was a member of the Alpha & Omega fraternity. The school did not actually officially sanction fraternities or sorotities, so Alapha & Omega was a secret socieity. It was formed in 1929 in response to another secret society fraternity, the Beta Sigmas. Known as the BS on campus, it was deduced the BS stood for Black Stars in honor of the schools star logo. When Alpha & Omega formed it was known as the White Starts in response. The Black Stars were mostly athletes and other students saw the power the Black Stars had on campus. The founding members of Alpha & Omega sought to take some of that power back for themselves. Among the first members were future president Lyndon B. Johnson.

At the encouragement of his former fraternity brothers, Willbern began compiling the history of the fraternity and its members in 1988. His book, The White Start Story, came out in 1989 with all proceeds going to an Alpha & Omega scholarship fund at Texas State University. This collections contains the research Mr. Willbern used to write his book, including letters from the members, photos, correspondence from both Lyndon Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson, and a collection of questionnaires sent out to the members in order to complete the biographical sketches of all 121 members.

Roy Willbern died on July 9, 2007 at the age of 89 and is buried in the San Marcos Cemetery.