Houston Roadrunner Looks Back and Leaves a Legacy


An Air Force kid who was born in Germany and whose family moved every couple of years, Denise Gales Langabeer (BBA ’90) found a home when she enrolled as a management major at The University of Texas at San Antonio in the 1980s.

“My dad ended up in San Antonio around 1979-80, and I finished school at Randolph High School, then started at Southwest Texas State University (SWT, now Texas State University),” she said. “I was an only child and really didn’t like living in the dorm, so I moved back home and commuted to SWT my second semester.”

At the suggestion of her father, she made the decision to transfer to UTSA for her second year. “At the time, UTSA was a commuter school. There were no dorms and many of the courses were scheduled late in the afternoon, which accommodated my needs since I had always planned to work when attending college,” Denise recalled.

“UTSA was surrounded by farmland everywhere in the ‘80s and ‘90s – no mall, no housing, total farmland across the street, and I recall this small social bar called The Roost. UTSA was this little nugget that sat on the side of Loop 1604, which was only two lanes at the time. It was a university that was unassuming but certainly building an academic reputation within the UT System.”

“I really loved UTSA. I had great professors, and I still remember them – Dr. (William) Mitchell, Dr. (Donde) Ashmos, Dr. (Richard) Utecht, Dr. (Francis) Piron, and Dr. (Joel) Saegert, who recently passed away, leaving a lasting mark in UTSA’s College of Business.”

She added, “I still have a good friend, who is also an alumna, who lives here in Houston, and we talk about UTSA. It was a good environment for us. It was small – I think the enrollment was under 14,000 – and all the business majors knew each other.”

For Denise, whose career in health care has taken her to Galveston, Boston and Houston, where she is now managing operations for the emergency medicine department at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, the great memories of her time at UTSA have been informing her decisions as she plans for the future.

“At this point (in life), you begin thinking of your legacy,” said the UTSA alumna, who also holds an MBA from the University of Houston-Clear Lake and is completing a doctorate in management and public policy at The University of Texas School of Public Health in Houston.

“I started putting my will together and thinking about what things I want to contribute to that are meaningful. Obviously, education is very important to me, especially for those who don’t have the ability financially to pursue some of their ambitions…. I just think of my own situation. If I had never pursued my degree, furthering my education, I would have been limited in my career choices.”

To help ensure that others have the same opportunity for a college education, Denise is including the university in her estate plan. “I contribute to things I like and UTSA is something I am still very passionate about.”