Schieffer siblings honored for making a ‘meaningful impact on humanity’

Posted Monday, Apr. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The Schieffer siblings long ago made their mark on the world.

Bob became a well-known TV newsman who served as a chief Washington correspondent, moderator of Face the Nation and an anchor of CBS Evening News.

Tom became an attorney, a legislator, and the U.S. ambassador to Australia and then Japan. He also served as president of the Texas Rangers baseball team.

And Sharon became a teacher, a school administrator — and one of the first women to become a principal in a 5A school.

“The Schieffers represent the very best of our community,” said Cheryl Kimberling, president of The Multicultural Alliance, an organization that works to eliminate bias, bigotry and oppression. “They have taken their Fort Worth upbringing to the local, national and world stage and made a meaningful impact on humanity.”

Tonight, Bob Schieffer, 76, Sharon Schieffer Mayes, 71, and Tom Schieffer, 65, will be honored with the 62nd Multicultural Alliance Award. During a 7 p.m. award dinner at the Worthington Renaissance Hotel, Multicultural Alliance Board member Marvin Blum will moderate a conversation among the Schieffers.

But the siblings, while truly honored by the award, say it’s really a tip of the hat to their mother, Gladys Payne Schieffer.

“Our mother was a child of the depression,” Bob Schieffer said. “Because she [and her family were poor], they literally had a very difficult time getting through the Depression.”

She knew what it was to do without, especially since the only food that she and her family had at times was what her 13-year-old brother brought home from the drugstore where he worked.

“What she wanted was a college education,” Bob Schieffer said. “She lived in the shadow of the UT Tower in Austin, but it might as well have been in China.”

And even though that college education eluded her, she was determined that it would not evade her children.

“If we had not gotten a college education, she would have killed us,” Bob Schieffer said with a chuckle. “She was quite a formidable woman.”

The Schieffers were raised in Fort Worth, where Bob graduated from Northside High School and Sharon and Tom graduated from Arlington Heights High School. All three went to college — earning the first degrees of their family. Eventually, all of Gladys Payne Schieffer’s grandchildren went on to earn college degrees as well.

Strong work ethic

But for this family, a college education was only the beginning.

Gladys Payne Schieffer had a strong work ethic, and she taught her children that they needed to make a difference in the world.

“Our mother had no tolerance for liars, cheats or thieves,” according to a letter that Sharon, Tom and Bob Schieffer wrote. “She thought that soap was cheap and shoes were to be shined. With her, every person deserved a chance, every person deserved respect.

“No one was to be looked down upon because of the color of their skin, the accent of their English or the accident of their birth.”

Widowed at 45, Gladys Payne Schieffer never remarried. She dedicated herself to raising her children and ensuring that they made a difference.

“Our mother loved us deeply, but she demanded much,” according to the siblings’ letter. “Excuses and sibling rivalries were for other people’s children, not hers. She wished us achievement but never wealth. She wanted others to know that we had passed this way by the measure of our deeds, not the sum of our accounts.

“She truly believed we were capable of doing anything worth doing.”

Others who have received this honor include Hazel Harvey Peace, former Mayors Kenneth Barr and Mike Moncrief, and pianist Van Cliburn. Fifty years ago, Bob Schieffer’s father-in-law — Neville Penrose — was also honored.

“It is special to be honored with my brothers, but I think the honor really belongs to our mother,” Mayes said. “She instilled in us the belief that we had a responsibility to try to make a difference.”


Anna M. Tinsley, 817-390-7610 Twitter: @annatinsley

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