Mary L.A. Stanton (BBA '89)

Blonde woman in white blouse seated at table.

Mary L.A. Stanton has had many titles in her life, including mother, wife, world traveler, investor and business owner. But one title she's especially proud of is Texas Woman's University alumna.

The road to success wasn't always an easy one for Mary, who recently made the single largest donation to the university.

"I was the definition of a non-traditional student at TWU-a single mother raising two young sons, working as a defensive driving instructor and bookkeeper," she recalled. "I would drive from Corinth to Denton in the morning, attend classes, and be home in the afternoon when my sons got home from school. We would do our homework together."

Mary, who was an A student and attended TWU on scholarship, didn't spend much time on campus outside of class as she didn't have the time. But she loved the way the Denton campus felt then and still does today, which is why she was moved to donate more than $10 million to her alma mater.

While attending college, Mary started working for H.T. Ardinger & Son, a wholesale home and holiday decor import company run by Horace Ardinger, Jr. She was hired for her accounting skills, but soon learned other areas of the business.

I was the definition of a non-traditional student at TWU-a single mother raising two young sons, working as a defensive driving instructor and bookkeeper. I would drive from Corinth to Denton in the morning, attend classes, and be home in the afternoon when my sons got home from school.

A few years later, she and Horace married, and the two were true business partners. Together, they managed the privately owned company that employed more than 100 people. Mary was involved in every aspect of the business: merchandising, negotiating, pricing, product development, accounting, marketing and managing overseas suppliers, primarily in China.

"Working hard and long hours have an immediate benefit, but the blessings continue for a lifetime," she said.

In 2011, after being in business for 63 years, the wholesale company ended its warehouse and shipping operations.

Without my degree, I don't think I would be where I am today. I'm honored to say I'm a TWU graduate and hope that TWU's students will see me as a role model for what they, too, can become.

Now, Mary is proud to be giving back to the university that helped launch her career.

"Without my degree, I don't think I would be where I am today," she said. "I'm honored to say I'm a TWU graduate and hope that TWU's students will see me as a role model for what they, too, can become."

Page last updated 9:02 AM, September 14, 2018