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Lafield family proudly supports athletics thanks to a deep love for Texas A&M

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Jack Lafield may have grown up more than 1,000 miles from the Lone Star State, but his thoughts have rarely strayed very far from Texas A&M University. Whether it was being raised in a household with a father from the class of 1944 or encountering countless A&M graduates in the energy business, Lafield's life has been intertwined with many maroon moments.

And while he has been greatly impacted by A&M, Lafield and his wife, Michele, have made it a point to return the favor by investing generously in Texas A&M and Aggie athletics.

The Lafields have contributed significantly to the 12th Man Foundation in recent years to support student-athlete scholarships, the Slocum Nutrition Center, the redevelopment of Kyle Field and the soccer program. Lafield has also served for three years as a captain of the Dallas chapter of the 12th Man Foundation's Champions Council, a program reserved for Texas A&M's most financially committed former students and friends.

 

"We want Texas A&M to have the best programs across the board and have programs we can all be proud of. It's a real pleasure for us to do this, because I think back about all the support Aggies have given me. No one accomplishes everything in life by themselves, and A&M and the Aggie network have definitely been there for me throughout my life."

-- Jack Lafield

"We want Texas A&M to have the best programs across the board and have programs we can all be proud of," said Lafield, a graduate of the class of 1972. "It's a real pleasure for us to do this, because I think back about all the support Aggies have given me. No one accomplishes everything in life by themselves, and A&M and the Aggie network have definitely been there for me throughout my life."

Lafield's infatuation can be traced to his father, Col. Bill Lafield Jr.

Bill was a member of the class of 1944 and was one of the thousands of Aggies who selflessly left school to serve the United States during the height of World War II. Even though the Lafields never lived in Texas while Jack was a child, he was raised singing the Aggie War Hymn and watching the annual A&M-Texas game on television.

Jack didn't know a single person on campus when he arrived in College Station as a freshman in 1968, but he quickly fell in love with the school his father had told him so much about. He also came to love the pageantry surrounding A&M football games, experiencing his first Midnight Yell Practice in New Orleans' French Quarter before the season-opening contest against LSU.

Lafield eventually earned a degree in chemical engineering and began a career in the oil and gas industry. His formative years in the business included stops at several companies in Texas--and led to a number of key Aggie connections.

Stints at Delhi Gas Pipeline (1977-80) and Lear Petroleum (1980-86) created close relationships with former students like Tommie Lohman '59 and Max Woodard '60, who were both prominent A&M athletics supporters in the energy business.

As his career continued to flourish, Lafield founded Caiman Energy in 2009. Based in Dallas, Caiman Energy is a leader in the Marcellus and Utica Shale formations that encompass portions of West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. Together, those two plays represent perhaps the largest gas field in the world, and Caiman specializes in natural gas gathering and processing facilities.

Lafield's two sons, Ryan and Chris, have also earned A&M diplomas, while a daughter, Lea, was an All-SEC soccer player at Vanderbilt.

"We really saw the dedication and value of what a Division I student-athlete goes through while we followed Lea at Vanderbilt," Lafield said. "We gained an appreciation for those students and what they do across the board. And athletics allows a lot of young people to earn an education. It gives them the tools they need to be prepared for life, and if we can give back a little bit to help support them, that's what we want to do."

The Lafield's relationship with all things A&M took a somber turn in 1999. Chris, the family's youngest son, was working on the Bonfire stack in the early morning hours of Nov. 18, 1999, when John Comstock, one of Chris's best friends from high school, offered to take his spot so Chris could study for an upcoming exam. One hour later, the stack collapsed. Comstock, who was trapped under logs for seven hours, was the last survivor to be rescued and later spent five months in the hospital.

But most of the family's experiences have been marked with joy. Col. Bill Lafield Jr. even returned to College Station after he retired from the Army, earning a Master's degree in computer science in 1973. He later became director of the university's Computing Service Center, a position he held until retiring in 1989.

It was during that stint that the elder Lafield began purchasing season tickets to Aggie football games. Saturdays at Kyle Field became a staple for the family each fall, and it started a tradition of support and giving that continues to this day.

"Dad was my inspiration," Lafield said. "You learn from your environment, and when you're around a father who wanted to give back what little he could, that's a tradition we are proud to continue.

"We have a great picture of my dad before he passed away, with him, myself and my two sons with all of our Aggie rings together. Saying we are three generations of Aggies, we have a tight bond."

The family continues to attend football games together, but their support of Texas A&M doesn't stop with athletics. The Lafield's generosity has also altered the fortunes of the Texas A&M Foundation, the Association of Former Students and the College of Engineering. The Lafields regularly provide Aggie Rings for military veterans and have invested heavily in engineering scholarships.

12th Man Foundation Vice President of Major Gifts Brady Bullard has worked with Lafield as a development officer for both engineering and athletics and saw first-hand the family's desire to give back.

"Jack Lafield is as Aggie as they come, and he absolutely loves Texas A&M University," said Bullard. "I have had the pleasure of building a relationship with Jack over the last seven years both at the A&M Foundation and now at the 12th Man. Jack and his longtime business partner Rick Moncrief, class of 1981, funded a full-ride academic scholarship in the College of Engineering back in 2012. This is unique in that very few full rides are funded in academics. His passion for giving has continued over to athletics and the 12th Man Foundation. Jack and Michele have supported multiple areas with gifts through the 12th Man Foundation, and he is always open to hear about our needs and the needs of A&M athletics and how he can help."

For that, the 12th Man Foundation and Aggie athletics will be forever grateful.

 

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2016 January

"It's an honor for me to give back because A&M has always been so good to me.

This is my way of telling Texas A&M 'Thank you.'"

Red Bryant
Former Texas A&M defensive lineman and Super Bowl Champion