Dr. Gregory Powell and Mr. and Mrs. Foster Murphy who established the B.F. and Mary Payne Fund for the Preservation of Texas Culture were honored by Texas State Historian, Dr. Bill O’Neal, with a certificate of appreciation of his term as State Historian.
Bill O’Neal, came to Panola College in 1970 as a member of the history faculty. During four decades on campus he taught more than 7,000 students, and his teaching awards include a prestigious Piper Professorship, presented by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation in 2000. Every semester he taught at least one section of Texas history. For 20 years he conducted traveling Texas history classes, the State’s first such course for credit, featuring a 2,100-mile itinerary and camping in Big Bend and the Davis Mountains. For a decade he also led a traveling western civilization course, granting six hours credit for a 15-day trip through Europe.
Bill has written 42 books on a variety of historical topics, as well as 300 articles and book reviews. True West Magazine named Bill the “Best Living Non-Fiction Writer” in 2007, and in 2012 the Wild West History Association presented him its Lifetime Achievement Award. Bill has appeared on TV documentaries about the American frontier on The History Channel, TBS, The Learning Channel, CMT, and A&E.
In August 2012 Bill was sworn in as State Historian of Texas by Governor Rick Perry. As State Historian Bill has traveled throughout the State, providing programs at colleges, universities, museums, and history events. On April 21, San Jacinto Day, he was the keynote speaker at the San Jacinto Monument. Bill’s travels as State Historian have been generously supported by the Murphy-Payne Foundation.
In August 2013 Texas A&M Commerce awarded Bill an honorary Doctor of Letters Degree. That same month Panola College named its new dormitory “Bill O’Neal Hall.” Bill’s wife, Karon O’Neal, teaches mathematics at Panola College, and she lends invaluable assistance to all of his activities.