Retired Texas State professor, drama teacher devoted to the community
By Catherine Harper
For retired Texas State University professor Dr. Ron Jager and his wife Marie, life has been full of “little coincidences” that have kept them serving the San Marcos community for over 30 years. With a passion to help others, the Jagers have always found a helping hand to keep them motoring onward.
“We’ve always come into what we needed in some way or another,” Ron says. “We’ve been full of little coincidences that have taken place here [in San Marcos]. Something happens that’s connected with people and other places that come here to roost.”
Ron, a history professor at Texas State from 1967-1993, and Marie, a retired high school drama teacher, have installed themselves on the scene in San Marcos through community events. Having founded the San Marcos Performing Arts Association as well as local events such as Sights and Sounds of Christmas and Summer in the Park, the Jagers are as much of an institution to the history and culture of San Marcos as the historical building they currently operate and maintain, the H.Y. Price Seniors Center.
As primary caretakers of the Seniors Center, a hub for senior activities and community events in San Marcos, the Jagers are expanding their legacy by staying fresh on the scene.With an open-door policy for community gatherings, the Jagers host a number of activities at the center such as weddings, birthday parties, business meetings, university productions with Texas State’s Friends of Fine Arts and the Supple Folk Music Series, instructional classes and civil court trials.
“When we started we had the idea that this was supposed to be a community venture and not just a place for old folks to hang out,” Ron says. “What we really didn’t anticipate is the wide variety of things that started happening.”
Having been awarded a Key to San Marcos as well as local recognition for their efforts with the Price Seniors Center — including a Woman of the Year honor for Marie in 2011 — the Jagers’ work at the center has not gone unnoticed by the community.
According to Marie, the space has grown leaps and bounds from where they started it originally.
“We’ve gotten a lot of community contributions, such as from Emmett McCoy, to make the building as beautiful as it is today,” Marie says. “Community contributions have made it possible to continue to accomplish what we wanted to do here.”
The Jagers say they’ve both had their “quirks and turns” throughout their careers, but none were as unanticipated as their involvement with the H.Y. Price Seniors Center, which they acquired after their retirement in 1993.
That year, an impending vote by the City of San Marcos to tear down a wing of the 1890s-era First Christian Church — donated by late philanthropist and local telephone owner H.Y. Price — made the Jagers change their path once again in aid of the community.
“We wanted the Price Center to be for the greater community benefit,” Ron says. “We never envisioned how big it would become.”
Through petitions, letters to the local paper, and the founding of the Greater San Marcos Area Seniors Association, the Jagers won a long-term lease for the renovation and maintenance of the H.Y. Price Seniors Center in 1998.
Since then, the Jagers have done everything in their power to restore the building into the beautiful historical site that it is today. Working 60-hour weeks to restore and operate the building as a community venture, with custom woodworking completed by Ron, the Jagers laid down the foundation of what is now much more than a seniors center.
According to Texas State public relations senior Sarah Cobb, an intern at the Price Center, the Jagers’ work with the community is valuable because of their ongoing advocacy for new projects.
“The Jagers are big hitters in San Marcos after orchestrating many profitable, local events in San Marcos, but even they have been turned down by the city a few times when they’ve tried to start new projects for San Marcos,” Cobb says. “Through my work with the Jagers, I have learned that getting funding or support doesn’t get easier as you get bigger; you just have to keep pushing.”
With community involvement at the forefront of their lives, the Jagers say they would not be where they are now without the community’s help.
“Our motto is that we are a part of the community rather than apart from the community,” Ron says. “That’s been the philosophy that we’ve followed ever since.”