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Darrell K. Royal Renovates Memorial Stadium (1969)

Gordon Wilkison

Sound | 1969

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    • About the video
    • Gordon Wilkison Gordon Wilkison
    • Darrell K Royal Darrell K Royal
    • Texas Locations
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    KTBC newsman Neal Spelce interviews legendary college football coach Darrell K. Royal about the upcoming improvements to Memorial Stadium (now the Darrell K. Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium.) Slated for completion in 1971, the renovations included installing Astroturf, double decking the west side of the stadium for an additional 15,000 seating, and adding a new press box.
    Gordon Wilkison began work as a cameraman at the local Austin television station KTBC (now FOX 7) during 1952, its first year of operation.  At the time the station was owned by the Texas Broadcasting Company, which was owned by Senator Lyndon B. and Lady Bird Johnson. This relationship would continue to shape Wilkison's career well into the next decades - during the Johnson administration, Wilkison covered the president's visits to Texas, preparing material for national and international news correspondents. 
     
    A particularly notable moment in his career occurred on August 1, 1966, when Wilkison and KTBC reporter Neal Spelce risked their lives to capture footage of the Tower shooting at the University of Texas. 
     
    Wilkison was also the General Manager of Photo Processors at the LBJ Broadcasting Corporation, which he later took over and renamed Cenetex Film Labs. In addition to his camera work and film processing, his work at the station also included direction of a number of television film productions.
     
    Outside of KTBC, Wilkison shot, edited, and processed Longhorn football game footage for the University of Texas, a partnership that lasted nearly 30 years.    
     
    Recognizing the historical value of film and news footage, Wilkison kept the material, later contributing hundreds of reels to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image's collection.
    Darrell K Royal was a collegiate football coach revered for leading the Texas Longhorns in twenty winning seasons from 1957 to 1976.
     
    Royal was born on July 6, 1924 in Hollis, Oklahoma. His middle name, K, has been said to represent his mother, Katy, who died of cancer when Royal was a baby. He experienced more tragedy with the deaths of two of his sisters at young ages. During the hard economic times of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, Royal had to supplement his father’s income by taking on a paper route and picking cotton. His family was so poor that he used a can of baking powder as a football until he and his brothers were able to pool their money to buy a real one.
     
    With the outbreak of World War II, Royal joined the U.S. Army Air Corps. While playing football for the 3rd Air Force team, he was scouted by the University of Oklahoma. There he majored in business and became a star quarterback and defensive back. When he graduated, Royal knew he wanted to coach football. He held assistant coaching positions at North Carolina State, Tulsa, and Mississippi State. He briefly coached the Edmonton Eskimos in Canada before returning to Mississippi as head coach in 1954, where he remained for two years.
     
    In 1956, Royal became head coach at the University of Texas, where he became the most successful coach in the history of the program. In his first year, he quickly turned the losing team into a winning one, ending the season with an appearance at the Sugar Bowl. Royal remained for a record twenty years without a single losing season. During his tenure, Texas won national championship titles in 1963, 1969, and 1970. They also won eleven Southwest Conference titles and went to sixteen bowl games. Although he received some criticism for his coaching tactics, Royal was ultimately considered a legend. He retired in 1976, but stayed at Texas as an athletic director for four more years. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983, and the football stadium at the University of Texas was renamed in his honor in 1996. 
     
    Royal married Edith Thomason in 1944, and they had three children -- Mack, David Wade, and Marian. Two of his children, David and Marian, preceded him in death. Darrel Royal died on November 7, 2012 from complications of Alzheimer’s. His wife founded the Darrell K Royal Research Fund for Alzheimer’s Disease in his honor.