In March of his senior year in high school, Randy Garbs’ world as he knew it was shattered when his father, Jim, was murdered tragically at work. The Sharpstown High School student had planned to attend Texas Tech University that fall of 1972, but he decided instead to stay home and attend to his mother, Faye.
“I had received the offer of an academic scholarship from HBU,” Garbs said. “I called them back and asked if I could accept that offer. I ended up going to HBU, which was only a couple of miles away from home.”
At HBU, Garbs majored in Chemistry and Biology. He joined several student groups, was a cheerleader, and sang in musical productions. He remembers benefiting from relationships with professors like Dr. Doris Warren who pushed him toward success as he balanced a full-time job at a tennis center pro shop.
“It was a nurturing environment at HBU,” he said. “The faculty and staff were all just excellent. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.”
During college, Garbs reunited with high school friends Steve Ivey and Mike Poteet to form “Friends,” a choral trio in which Garbs sang as a second tenor. The group went on tour, opening for the likes of Bob Hope, Rich Little and Jack Jones. After several years in show business, the men decided it was time to find their niches at home.
Garbs went to work as a chemist for NL Treating Chemicals in the late 70s. In the early 80s, he took advantage of his company’s offer to sponsor tuition, and enrolled in HBU’s Master of Business Administration program.
“It is an excellent MBA program. It was very helpful,” Garbs said. “It was light on theoretical academics and heavy on practical, real-life application.” In fact, Garbs, ‘76, MBA ‘83, met a business partner, Steve Woodall, ’75, MBA ’83, through the program, and worked with him for the remainder of the decade before going to work for a real estate investment trust.
In 1990, Garbs married his wife, Cindy, and became the father of three boys. The family’s connection to HBU continued when Cindy retired from her position as VP of Randall’s Food Markets Public Relations and applied her talents for HBU as VP of Advancement.
The couple has kept HBU happenings close to their hearts. When he’s nearby, Garbs even makes it a point to stop at one of the eateries along the interstate entrance of campus. “HBU is making a comeback in ways I had long hoped for,” he said. “I’m a big fan of (HBU President) Dr. Sloan and his wife, Sue.”
For the Garbs, HBU’s prosperity is personal. They’ve decided to set up their will so that their assets will be allocated out of a foundation. HBU will be a foundation beneficiary.
“One of the main reasons for doing this is because of the impact that my experience at HBU had on the rest of my life. While HBU is a fine academic school, the most important thing it can do is to expose the student body to a Christian education,” he said. “Students – some from all over the world – need to hear the Gospel. It is really for the advancement of the Gospel and God’s Kingdom.”
If anyone understands that, as believers, even death can beget new life, it is Garbs.
“Under tragic circumstances, the Lord can turn cursing into blessing, like it says in Romans 8:28,” he said. “My experience at HBU as a young man did turn out to be a marvelous blessing in a great number of ways. In retrospect, God had a plan in spite of the adverse circumstances. All things truly did ‘work together for good.’”
Now, Randy and Cindy Garbs will plant their own seed of blessing, which is sure to bear fruit in the years to come.
“We are all here on this earth for a very short period of time compared to eternity,” he said. “The most important thing in this life is to recognize what Jesus Christ did on the cross and to trust in Him for salvation. I put my money where my emphasis is – that’s on eternity and on things of eternal value. I believe HBU will play a big role for a lot of people when it comes to eternity. Houston will be blessed by how HBU succeeds and by how it serves this community.”
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