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Rupert and Ethel Koeninger of a seated district judge whose daughter was married to a son of one of the regents of the college. These were the events Harmon gave justifying the firing of Chairman Koeninger. The precipitating episode, among those Lowman cited, was the showing of the movie, “Operation Abolition,” during which the local Birch leader, W.H. Kellogg, said “you were either American or Communist” and the Nation, the Reporter, and the New Republic sympathized with communism. Koeninger, also in attendance, said that the film was propaganda and so was Kellogg’s name-calling. As I learned during my investigation of this case in 1962, C. Smith Ramsey, the chairman of the board of regents, who was the brother of the powerful former lieutenant governor, Railroad Commissioner Ben Ramsey, telephoned Kellogg and asked for his account of the meeting. Ramsey did not telephone Koeninger and ask him for his side, nor did any other regent, nor did Lowman. The regents then fired Koeninger as they would fife a maid or a cook. “I am unable to tell my wife and the children,” Koeninger wrote into his diary on May 7, 1961. “I did not sleep any last night. After it got daylight I went down to the garden and cut grass and weeds. About 10 o’clock, I could see my two neighbors under the oak trees. I told them what had happened….I told them plainly that I was hurt and heartsore about it; that I did not think this should happen even to a yellow dog; that I was afraid it was a hard uphill fight for which I had no stomach.” That night, he told his wife, who said that two years earlier a member of the local John Birch Society had told her, “Your husband is too liberal, we run his kind off sooner or later, harass them until they get disgusted and quit, get them fired, or they get a better job elsewhere.” On May 14 Koeninger told his daughter, who responded loyally. On May 19 he ordered a busybody, who had his wife crying, out of their house. On May 22-23 he wrote in his diary: “My feelings are that it will be a long, hard, embarrassing, humiliating task to have to go see all the board membeis. I have done no wrong. I am no criminal and yet my life’s work is being taken away. `Those who kill the body must diethose who kill the spirit go free.'” Seven of Rupert’s colleagues gathered with him in the home at 1927 Avenue I, which now he and his family would be leaving. Dr. William Painter, the chairman of the college’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors until he quit the school in protest of the Koeninger firing, said of that meeting: “You never saw a more desperate group. Eight of us. I tell you, I saw grown men shed tears that night. The rest of them had been here with him 15 years. It was like a wake. They were actually crying. They were talking about giving him a percentage of their salaries each month so that he would have an income. Then one of them, who is a very high ranking man here, said, ‘I don’t have any money, but I can borrow money and I’ll pay off all your outstanding debts.’ And he kept after him’How much did you owe, Rupert?’ He turned ’em all down.” In an amendment to the public school teachers’ pay bill in 1961, the Legislature instructed public school administrators not to “coerce any teacher to refrain from participating in political affairs in his community, state, or nation,” and an Attorney General’s opinion held that the language protected teachers who ran for and held for political office as well those who campaigned for other candidates. But Rupert Koeninger and his family packed up and left Huntsville. Koeninger’s family advanced in their various chosen paths as families of gifted and useful people do; Koeninger continued to do his work and his good works, and he continued to be a good citizen, continuing, for example, to support the election of Senator Ralph Yarborough of Texas. But they had been clubbed. Ethel’s husband, their children’s father, fired without reasons or hearingthey were dispossessed, ousted, driven out of their home and forced to take up other ways and places. In time, their friends, making the best of it, made jokes about the Koeningers’ “adventures at the country campus,” as they called Sam Houston State. But Ethel Koeninger told me, “We paid and paid and paid.” The firing of Rupert Koeninger because he was a good citizen plunged Sam Houston State into an institutional dark age of academic blacklisting. Students didn’t come, professors left. In the town some children turned outright against their parents for their parts in the scandal, and families split bitterly, some never to fully recover. Like a night flower, the local John Birch Society withered and blew out of town into the surrounding forest where it belonged. Rupert resumed teaching sociology at Texas Southern University in Houston. “I am very well received and am enjoying my work,” he said while he was there. “There is freedom, and the aura of a univer sity prevails. I love my work.” He became chairman of the department. Throughout the first half of the seventies the Koeningers lived in Michigan again while Rupert taught again at Central Michigan University. He had been director of classification for the Texas Prison System for five of the years while he had also been teaching in Huntsville, and now one of his articles on penology was cited in the 1972 Supreme Court ruling which declared a moratorium on capital punishment. When Rupert was 68 he and their son Art took off in a car for Alaska, camping and cooking out along the way. Up there Art fell for a woman and took up a life as a jeweler in Sitka, gradually contriving his house in the town out of a converted tin factory. Rupert had returned home alone in the car, but for their 50th wedding anniversary he and Ethel went back up there. They laid out two huge salmon and all the trimmings and invited people from all around to comethere were even announcements on the radio. The Natives had almost never seen a couple who had lived long enough to have a 50th wedding anniversary and so they came from all around, bringing bear meat, possum, reindeer, and abundant vegetables. Texas had failed them, but Alaska did not. 8 FEBRUARY 14, 1992