Former Tarleton professor Dr. Lamar Johanson and his wife, Marilynn Timberlake Johanson, have made a life estate gift, estimated to be in excess of $5 million, for the benefit of Tarleton State University.

The gift includes nearly 1,700 acres of farm and ranch land, with mineral rights, in San Saba and Mills counties. Terms of the agreement allow a portion of the property to be used as an academic laboratory to support Tarleton research, academic programs, and other university functions, while another portion will provide much needed scholarships and create a maintenance endowment.

The gift was announced at a ceremony Tuesday on the Tarleton campus.

Marilynn Johanson spoke about her family’s connection to Stephenville. After she and Lamar moved to Stephenville in 1961, her grandmother, Effie Stephen Timberlake, told her a story.

“It’s very interesting that you and your young husband have chosen Stephenville as your home,” her grandmother told her. “There is something you need to know. My grandfather, John M. Stephen, gave the land for the town of Stephenville. … Would John M. Stephen be impressed with our gift to the university? I don’t have a clue. But his granddaughter Effie Stephen Timberlake knew the value of education and would have said, well done, young folks, well done.”

While their parents did not have the opportunity to go to college, Lamar Johanson said, “they all valued a college education and they instilled in both Marilynn and me the need and value of a college education.

“Because of the effort and hard work by those who came before us a nice asset was developed,” he continued, “and today we are passing on a large portion of that asset along to help students gain a college education. We know of no way to better invest in the future of this great nation of ours than to invest in the education of our youth.”

Tarleton President F. Dominic Dottavio praised the couple for their “gift of the heart”?land developed by their ancestors.

“Through teaching and service, previous giving and enthusiasm for Texan athletics over many years, Marilynn and Lamar Johanson have been among Tarleton’s staunchest supporters,” Dottavio said. “Their extremely generous gift will provide opportunities for our faculty and will affect generations of Tarleton students. Many deserving young people will be able to see their dream of a college education come true due to the generosity and vision of the Johansons. We are profoundly grateful.”

Lamar Johanson retired in 2001 after 40 years of service to Tarleton. Among other duties, he served as a professor of biological sciences, chairman of the Department of Biological Sciences, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and as the first executive director of Tarleton State University System Center-Central Texas in Killeen.