Lou Halsell Rodenberger

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Molcie Lou Rodenberger (Halsell)

Death: April 09, 2009 (82)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Austin Carl Halsell and Annie Mable Halsell
Wife of Charles A. Rodenberger

Managed by: Private User
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About Lou Halsell Rodenberger


Molcie Lou Halsell Rodenberger (September 21, 1926 – April 9, 2009) was a Texas author, educator, professor, and journalist.

Early years

Molcie Lou Halsell was born in rural Eastland County, Texas in a small community named Okra.) to educators, Austin Carl Halsell (1899–1993) and the former Mabel Falls (1904–2000). She began high school in Cross Plains, Texas but graduated as valedictorian from Anson High School, Anson, Texas.

At age 16, she entered Texas Woman's University in Denton (then Texas State College for Women) and procured in 1943 a bachelor of science degree in journalism. She worked for the Kerrville Times, before she accepted an appointment in 1947 as an English and journalism teacher at Levelland High School. While in Levelland, she married Charles A. Rodenberger on September 3, 1949.

College career

When Texas A&M University in College Station first admitted women, Rodenberger became one of its first women graduate students, having obtained both her Master of Arts and Ph.D., in English. She was honored as an outstanding graduate student teacher. In 1982, the Rodenbergers moved to Abilene, where she taught English at Cooper High School for two years, from 1982 through 1984. She then settled in Cross Plains and commuted to teach at Cisco Junior College in Cisco, the seat of her native Eastland County, and then for twelve years at Methodist-affiliated McMurry University in Abilene. She retired as professor emerita at McMurry and was honored twice as the outstanding faculty member there.


Her publications were primarily on Texas women writers. Her most recent book, published by Texas Tech University Press, is a biography of the West Texas author Jane Gilmore Rushing who worked at the Abilene Reporter-News before becoming a full-time writer based in Lubbock. With Susie Kelly Flatau, Rodenberger co-authored Quotable Texas Women, published by McMurry's State House Press. With co-author Sylvia Grider, she penned Texas Women Writers and Let's Hear It: Short Stories by Texas Women, published by the Texas A&M University Press. Her other works included Her Work: Stories by Texas Women and Writing on the Wind: An Anthology of West Texas Women Writers.

Rodenberger also published many essays and articles. In 2007, she received the Stirrup Award for best article in Roundup, a publication of Western Writers of America. Her article is entitled "Tom Lea, Novelist: The Eyes of an Artist, the Ears of a Writer."

The Texas Tech Press has established an award in her name for the best manuscript written by or about a woman whose writing illuminates Texas history, culture and letters, especially in West Texas and the border region.

Rodenberger was a Texas Woman's University regent and "Distinguished Alumna", served on the TWU Foundation, and was active in the Texas Women's Library at TWU. She was a fellow of the Texas State Historical Association and also active in the West Texas Historical Association, which named her as a "fellow" shortly before her death. She formerly received a fellowship from the Texas Folklore Society. She was a member and former director of the Texas Institute of Letters and served on the executive committee of the Western Literature Association.

Family and death

Rodenberger was a member of the Cross Plains First United Methodist Church and a supporter of the Cross Plains Public Library. In addition to her husband, she was survived by a daughter, Kathryn Sue Wilcox and husband, James Keith Wilcox, of San Antonio; a son, Charles Mark Rodenberger and wife, Mary Kathryn, of Weatherford, the seat of Parker County west of Fort Worth; a sister, Sue H. Neal and husband, Ike, of Cross Plains; five grandchildren, and two great-grandsons.

Rodenberger died of ovarian cancer at her home in Admiral, Texas, a small community southeast of Baird, the seat of Callahan County located north of Cross Plains. Services were held on April 11, 2009, at the First United Methodist Church in Cross Plains. Interment was at Admiral Cemetery southeast of Baird.


Molcie Lou Halsell Rodenberger, author and educator, is best-known for her studies of Texas women writers. Known by the name Lou, she was the eldest of two daughters and was born to Austin Carl and Annie Mabel (Falls) Halsell in Okra, Eastland County, Texas, on September 21, 1926. Her parents were both educators who moved frequently around West Texas during Lou’s childhood, so she attended a number of different schools. Her father, also a Methodist minister, and mother organized churches in the small communities where they taught.

Lou remained committed to the values taught by her parents as she became both a lifelong Methodist and an educator. At the age of sixteen, she graduated valedictorian from Anson High School and then earned a B.S. degree in journalism from Texas State College for Women (now Texas Woman’s University) in June 1947. While in college, she worked on the student newspaper, the Daily Lasso, and served as the paper’s business manager her senior year. She also was a member of the James H. Lowry Literary Club, Kappa Alpha Mu, and Theta Sigma Phi, an honorary organization for women in journalism.

After graduation Lou Halsell worked for the Kerrville Times as the society editor, then moved to Levelland, Texas, to teach high school English and journalism. There she met Charles A. Rodenberger, a petroleum engineer. The couple married on September 3, 1949, at First Methodist Church in Levelland. While they raised their two children, Kathryn Sue and Mark, Charles Rodenberger changed the focus of his career from petroleum to aerospace engineering. He earned a master’s degree in Engineering from Southern Methodist University and worked for General Dynamics Aerospace. For General Dynamics, he designed rocket fuel tanks that were considered by NASA for use in the second stage of the Saturn V launch during the Apollo missions, but the design by North American Aviation was accepted for the spacecraft. He then received a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Texas while he taught in the engineering department at Texas A&M University in College Station.

When Texas A&M University began admitting women in 1963, Lou Rodenberger became one of the first female graduate students to attend the university. She earned both a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in English and was honored as the outstanding graduate student teacher. She also taught at A&M and Blinn College for a time before she and her family moved to the Abilene, Texas, area, where Lou briefly taught at Cooper High School and Cisco Junior College before beginning her twelve-year tenure at McMurry University. She retired from McMurry as a professor emeritus and was twice honored as an outstanding faculty member.

Lou Rodenberger edited or authored a number of books and articles. Her best-known works include Texas Women Writers: A Tradition of Their Own (1997) and Let’s Hear It: Stories by Texas Women Writers (2003), both co-edited with Sylvia Grider; Quotable Texas Women (2005), co-edited with Susan Kelly Flatau; and Jane Gilmore Rushing: A West Texas Writer and Her Work (2006), an authored biography. Twice Rodenberger was honored with the Stirrup Award from the Western Writers of America for articles in their Roundup Magazine. She served as a regent for Texas Woman’s University, where she was a distinguished alumna. In 2001 she was inducted into the Texas Institute of Letters and later served as a director. She was a Fellow of the Texas State Historical Association, the West Texas Historical Association, and the Texas Folklore Society and served as president of the latter two organizations. She also served on the executive committee of the Western Literature Association and the Board of Western Writers.

Lou Halsell Rodenberger lost her battle with cancer and died on April 9, 2009, in Cross Plains, Texas. Her funeral service was held at First Methodist Church in Cross Plains, and she was buried at Admiral Cemetery in Callahan County, Texas. Upon her death, Texas Tech University Press honored her by creating the Lou Halsell Rodenberger Prize in Texas History and Literature to be given to a manuscript on or by a woman whose writing illuminates Texas history, culture, and letters. The award was a fitting tribute to a woman who spent her life as a scholar and mentor. In addition, Texas Woman’s University honored Rodenberger by renaming the library’s Woman’s Collection in her memory. As of 2020 the second floor to the Blagg-Huey Library housed the Lou Halsell Rosenberger exhibit that highlighted different aspects of her life.

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Lou Halsell Rodenberger's Timeline

September 21, 1926
April 9, 2009
Age 82