Butch and Izora Southway are the 2008 Billy Adams recipients

(11-03-2008)

Successful business leaders Butch and Izora Southway are committed to their community. Because of their altruistic philosophy, the Adams State Executive Team selected them for the 2008 Billy Adams Award. Adams State will present Southways with the award at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7 in the Student Union Building banquet rooms.

Izora is a 1966 graduate of Adams State. "I was shocked when we received the letter telling us we were the Billy Adams Award recipients," she said. "It is a special award."

A true proponent of education, Billy Adams was instrumental in establishing Adams State College. Established in 1971, the Billy Adams Award recognizes those who follow in the tradition set by Adams, committed to Adams State College and its continual growth.

Dr. David Svaldi, president of Adams State College, said: "Butch and Izora have been strong ASC supporters for many years. This award is further recognition for their support - they were a unanimous choice of the Executive Team. I think Billy Adams inspired us to this selection!"

Friends of Adams State

The Southways have contributed to Adams State in a variety of ways, including establishing the Southway Construction Scholarship in 1974, valued at tuition and fees for two students. Their son, Rocky, continues to award the scholarship; Butch and Izora retired in 1998.

"The scholarship was established to help average students, and non-athletes," Butch said. "There are many scholarship for students with a high grade point average, or for athletes, we were targeting the average student."

The couple donated land to the Foundation and Izora has served on the Foundation Board for over 20 years, including accepting terms for the positions of president and treasurer. In 1995, Adams State awarded the Southways the Willis Fassett, Jr. Award.

As a continued supporter of the Adams State Foundation, Izora said the biggest need for the Foundation is donations of unrestricted gifts. "The state support for higher education in Colorado is less every year. In order to secure the future of the college and future students, the college needs unrestricted gifts."

She added she would like to see Adams State grow, but not to extent where the "personal touch would be lost. So many of our alumni say they couldn't have done it any place else."

Inspirational employers and friends

Their generosity of spirit extends to their employees, friends and other community organizations.

Kenny Yohn started working for the Southways in 1980, when he was 20 years old, and continued working for them until they retired in 1998. "Butch and Izora weren't really your typical bosses," he said. "They were very family and employee oriented. They took an interest in their employees and often went out of their way to do nice things for them. I'd like to take this opportunity to tell them thanks for all they have done for me and my family over the years. Butch and Izora Southway are very deserving of the Billy Adams Award." He still works at Southway Construction for Rocky.

Rosalie, Adams State class year of 1986, and LeRoy Martinez have known the Southways a long time, and say they consider them "best friends."

"Butch and Izora have several business ventures in the San Luis Valley and continue to be involved in community affairs," Rosalie said. "Butch is one of the owners and on the Board of Directors of the Alamosa State Bank, a community owned bank that provides financing for many commercial and agricultural businesses and individuals as well. Izora, a graduate of Adams State College, has been on the Adams State College Foundation Board of Directors for many, many years and has served as Chairperson and Treasurer multiple times. She bleeds green and is a staunch supporter of ASC."

"We have a real love for the San Luis Valley and the people and Adams State," Izora said. "The college is an extreme benefit to the valley residents by providing education opportunities."

"You may not remember all the facts you learned in college," Butch said. "But it teaches you how to find the answers."

Interests in campus and community

Izora said she believes the Adams State Teacher Education Department is "outstanding" and both Butch and Izora said they were pleased when the agribusiness program was added. "I am very excited about the program's possibilities," Butch said. Izora agreed, "There is a real need in the valley for this program."

Besides academic benefits, the Southways appreciate other services offered by the college. According to Izora, they once needed to ask a personal favor. "After an accident, in 1976, Rocky's back was broken. His doctors prescribed swim lessons everyday for rehabilitation. I called Jim Paronto, then the athletic director, and he arranged for an athlete to work daily with Rocky."

After years of serving Adams State, the Southways say they have seen a lot of changes but are pleased with the continued high academic standards. "We have tremendous alumni," Izora said. "That speaks to the quality of the institution."

For years the Southways attended wrestling matches and most football games. "We are here at least once a month, but not enough to take advantage of the college athletic events like we used to," Butch said. "But we still follow the Grizzlies," added Izora.

Besides the construction and "rock crushing" business, the Southways have interests in banking, in the valley and Pueblo, and in horses, primarily for racing. They consider the Martinez' their mentors in the sport.

"We have enjoyed buying horses, breeding horses, racing horses and cheering them on to win," Rosalie said. "We tend to get a little noisy at the races when our horses are running but we always have a great time. The ultimate thrill is when our horses win and we get to take our pictures in the Winner's Circle with all our friends."

San Luis Valley always home

Currently, the Southways spend a good deal of their time in New Mexcio on their horse ranch; however, the both declare the valley has a special place in their hearts. "I get a nice warm feeling when we pass San Antonio Mountain, when we drive into the valley and can see Mt. Blanca we always know we are home," Izora said. "It is still home," Butch added.

"Together, Butch and Izora have reached out to the community and supported many organizations, too numerous to mention, but which include Adams State College, Trinidad State Junior College, the San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley," Rosalie said. "They are never too busy to spend quality time with friends, help someone in need, or support a good cause. They are truly community minded individuals. Butch and Izora are loyal friends of Adam State College and very deserving of the Billy Adams Award."

The Southways have two sons, Clay, and Rocky (Trinette) and three grandchildren. Rocky continues to run Southway Construction and Clay works at a Harley Davidson in Gillette, Wyo.

"We have been blessed in our lives together," Izora said. "We help out where we can. These awards are wonderful, but we don't need to be praised for doing the right thing, it was how we were raised."

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By Linda Relyea