Governor Bill Daniel: Lawyer, benefactor and Baylor legend
Gov. William “Bill” Partlow Daniel, JD ’38, led a full life; that’s him pictured above, riding his horse, “White Charger,” in a Baylor Homecoming parade. Over the years, he was a successful trial lawyer, governor of the U.S. Territory of Guam, and even an actor in John Wayne’s The Alamo (alongside 400 longhorns and hundreds of horses from his ranch). But the infamously flamboyant “Governor Bill” was, at his core, a dedicated member of the Baylor family.
The Daniel name should certainly ring a bell with anyone familiar with the Baylor campus. The SUB’s official name? The Bill Daniel Student Center. The plaza between it and Carroll Science Hall? The Vara Martin Daniel Plaza, honoring Governor Bill’s wife. The street on the other side of the student center, next to the bear habitat? M.P. Daniel Esplanade, named for Daniel’s father. The Gov. Bill and Vara Daniel Historic Village at the Mayborn Museum Complex was donated by the Daniel family in 1984. They even made possible the restoration of Carroll Science, inside which hangs a plaque recognizing the family.
Born 100 years ago today, Bill Daniel was determined to go to Baylor even as a child. Never one to let an obstacle get in his way, he hitchhiked to the Baylor campus during the 1930s with just $7 in his pocket. As a first-year Baylor law student, Daniel helped to pay his way by serving the nationally ranked 1935 Baylor football team as trainer and manager. He also helped look after Baylor’s live bears, and then-Baylor President Pat Neff even arranged for him to do landscaping and janitorial work around campus. In 1938, he graduated from Baylor Law School and met Miss Vara Faye Martin. One year later, she was Vara Faye Martin Daniel.
In 2006, the Baylor family said goodbye to Daniel when he passed away at age 90. Nearly his entire life was dedicated to supporting the university he loved — something we tangibly see each and every day at Baylor.
Sic ’em, Governor Bill!