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A photo of the 'Minden' family, the maternal side of Kevin Gaither's family from Minden, Louisiana.
Robert Kevin Gaither's maternal family from the town of Minden in North Louisiana helped establish a graduate fellowship in the College of Arts and Sciences in his honor. | Image: Courtesy photo

How do you honor someone who dedicated their life to spreading their love of music, literature and education? You create an opportunity for others to do the same.

Brad Almond ’89, Brian Almond, Diane Wheelahan, Bill McKellar and Jim McKellar have established the Dr. Robert Kevin Gaither ’96 Graduate Fellowship in the College of Arts and Sciences at Texas A&M University.

“We’re his five cousins that are part of Kevin’s extended family — his family on the maternal side from the town of Minden in North Louisiana,” Brad Almond said. “All our parents were from Minden, and the family was an important part of Kevin’s life and legacy. We wanted to honor that memory by all contributing to the fellowship.

“We know that Kevin’s proudest academic moment was receiving his Ph.D. from Texas A&M, as that set him on his path to becoming a college professor. Like many graduate students, Kevin worked his way through his Ph.D. program, him being a waiter at a restaurant at the time and his wife working as a nurse. He would be pleased to know that we are financially helping students continuing on that same path.”

This fellowship honors Gaither, known among his friends and family as Kevin, by awarding a student pursuing either a Ph.D. or master’s degree in English or a Ph.D. in history. Each donor gifted $5,000 toward a $25,000 endowment, enabling department heads and/or designated faculty to choose future recipients who will be awarded stipends.

A photo of Robert Kevin Gaither.
Robert Kevin Gaither ’96 | Image: Courtesy photo

“Kevin’s greatest academic love was for American literature,” Almond said. “We’re honoring his legacy by supporting someone on the same academic path. Kevin pursued his Ph.D., following a calling to become an educator. We know that can be a struggle with the high costs and the tremendous workload of a doctoral student. Having watched Kevin and his wife make those sacrifices, our goal is to try to make it a little easier for someone chasing their calling.”

Gaither was an accomplished academic, earning a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and his Ph.D. in 20th century American Literature from Texas A&M. He was a published poet, short-story author, graduate English instructor at Texas A&M and an English professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and South Louisiana Community College until his retirement. Gaither also wrote more than 100 original songs and recorded two albums, Rolling Moss Gathers No Stone and Car Tunes, under the name of Dr. Robert. He was a member of “Too Many Guitars,” a group that organized and performed an annual concert to benefit the Miles Perret Cancer Center. 

“We all have our roots in Louisiana, but Kevin and I came to Texas A&M, where Kevin embraced the Aggie community and found something there that we both appreciated: the work ethic, the honesty and the welcoming nature of Aggies that we all know about," Almond said. "Kevin cherished that Aggie Ring and wore it with great pride, and he loved having that Aggie diploma up on his wall. We hope this legacy can help more people achieve their academic goals and gain that same level of appreciation for the school and the English department there."

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