In the spirit of those who established Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP) nearly 60 years ago, campus officials have presented long-time West Plains residents and community leaders Sunie Pace and the late Terry L. “Bo” Pace with the prestigious Granvil Vaughan Founder’s Award.
The announcement of this year’s recipients was made during Saturday’s MSU-WP commencement ceremony by MSU-WP Chancellor Dennis Lancaster at the West Plains Civic Center.
Named in honor campus founder the late Missouri State Rep. Granvil Vaughan, the award recognizes individuals who have made a significant impact upon the mission of MSU-WP.
“There might not be any greater friends of Missouri State-West Plains during the past few years than Bo and Sunie Pace,” Lancaster said. “Not only have they given of their financial resources, but they have given of their time, energy and leadership abilities. We miss Bo terribly, but we know that his vision for a better tomorrow through education lives on, and we stand alongside Sunie and Susannah in keeping his passion alive.”
A long history of support for MSU-WP
The Paces have a long history of support for the university and its programs. They were among the first to join the Grizzly Booster Club when Grizzly Athletics was formed in 1993. Bo served on the club’s executive committee for many years, including as its president.
The duo were one of two local couples who served as co-directors of the National Junior College Athletic Association Division I Women’s National Volleyball Championship Tournament during its first nine years in West Plains.
Both served on the 50th Anniversary Gala, Annual Auction, Grizzly Trivia Night and several search committees, and Bo lent his voice as emcee at numerous university events over the years, including the 50th Anniversary Dinner, Grizzly Trivia Night, the Annual Auction and alumni dinners. If there was a university event on the calendar, you could usually find Bo and Sunie Pace among the crowd.
A strong advocate for veterans, Sunie participates yearly in Veterans Day and Memorial Day celebrations, including the university’s “A Musical Salute to Veterans.” She also served on the Red, White and Blue Annual Auction committee, which raised money for the university’s Veterans Center.
Sunie also is a regular participant at the Friends of the Garnett Library fashion shows held each spring and fall, modeling the latest fashions from The Kloz Klozet, one of the event’s sponsors.
Believing that education is the key to prosperity, the Paces have supported the university financially through contributions to the Friends of the Garnett Library Book Fund, the Annual Fund, the Annual Auction, the Jack and Marian McNevin Endowed Scholarship and various other scholarships.
A ‘transformational’ gift
When Bo died suddenly in August 2020, Sunie and their daughter Suzannah, both of whom attended classes at MSU-WP, decided to honor Bo’s legacy with a “transformational” gift to MSU-WP. In December 2021, university officials announced the naming of the Terry L. “Bo” Pace Advanced Welding and Fabrication Technology Program, which will be housed at the Terry L. “Bo” Pace Industrial Science Center at 218 Broadway.
“As we honor, celebrate and remember Bo Pace, we feel the impact of this program will present local industries with talented and qualified employees for their workforce. The Terry L. ‘Bo’ Pace Advanced Welding and Fabrication Technology Program will positively promote the economy of our local communities, making it a cornerstone program that will always be associated with MSU-WP as a successful program,” Sunie said at the time of the announcement.
Contributions to the community
The Paces contributions go beyond the MSU-WP campus and deep into the West Plains community. Both have been active members of the First Presbyterian Church, including Bo’s service as an elder and Sunie’s as a deacon, and Bo spent 12 years representing the community on the West Plains R-7 School Board, including serving as board vice president.
Bo also served on the board of the University of Missouri Extension Council and was a member of the West Plains High School Future Farmers of America (FFA) Alumni Association, and both Sunie and Bo volunteered with the Cystic Fibrosis Association of West Plains.
Their efforts in the community have earned them a variety of awards for public service and for being role models to the younger generations of West Plains residents.
This is the 22nd year the award has been presented.