Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Incredible Legacy: Founder's Day 2013

From dropping out of school at age 14, to becoming one of the most important inventors and industrialists of the 20th Century and manufacturing more than 70 percent of the earth-moving equipment used in WWII – R.G. LeTourneau was truly a “Mover of Men and Mountains.”

On Monday, December 2, LeTourneau University celebrated a special Founder’s Day that doubled as a celebration of the 125th anniversary of LeTourneau’s birthday.

Honored guests on Founder's Day included the 
LeTourneau's son, Ben and his wife Betty.
The day was commemorated with a Founder’s Day chapel service led by University President Dr. Dale Lunsford, who spoke on Mr. LeTourneau’s work, accomplishments and faith in God.

“Look at his life and you’ll see that one man can make a difference. He was a very talented man. He had a strong work ethic. He had a strong faith in a God who blessed him in many different ways,” Lunsford said. “And that one man made a great difference.”

In 1929, R.G. LeTourneau founded LeTourneau Industries. The Longview, Texas, plant spent most of its life under the name LeTourneau Technologies and is now owned by Joy Global.

“He created thousands of jobs in a time when this country really needed those jobs. It was a time of great economic challenge,” Lunsford said. “His equipment helped to win a world war and revolutionized two different industries; the earthmoving industry and offshore oil drilling. He completely changed both industries.”

LeTourneau Technologies employee Dale Hardy spoke via video, on LeTourneau’s accomplishments in the earth moving industry, citing his inventions of the Tournapull, electric wheel, and the use of welding and rubber tires for earthmoving equipment.

“Even though he died in 1969 at the age of 80, the legacy in the earth moving industry that R.G. LeTourneau left behind continues in a very real and tangible way,” Hardy said.

LETU’s Center for Faith and Work Director Bill Peel spoke on the spiritual nature of LeTourneau’s work and his belief that our everyday work matters to God.

“Each of us has an important work to do, and when you put that in God’s hands, amazing things can happen.”

Bob Walker, LETU alumnus and president of Walker Manufacturing Company, also spoke via video, demonstrating a palpable example of LeTourneau’s legacy. Walker expressed the virtues of operating a business under Biblical principles, as he learned from LeTourneau’s testimony.

The chapel service speakers were followed by chapel attendees congregating at the gravesites of LeTourneau and his wife, Evelyn, for prayer and a wreath placed at their graves to honor the occasion.

Founder's Day also unveiled the R.G. LeTourneau Digital Museum and Archives, where users can access original images and historical documents from the founder's life.

While he held over 300 patents, invented numerous earthmoving machines and transformed entire industries, Lunsford expressed what R.G. LeTourneau may have considered his finest accomplishment: “His faith in God has inspired thousands of people to go out and love God through their business and their lives. And to this day, that continues.”