Dudley Tomblinson was raised in Duncan, Oklahoma. Reta Mae Kent grew up in Hamby, Texas. Dudley came to Keene, TX in 1934 to attend SWJC. Reta’s grandparents moved to Keene in 1893 to help build KIA. Her family returned to Keene when she was seven years old. After Reta graduated from SWJC Academy, she and Dudley were wed. The marriage that began on this campus continued through sixty-one years of partnership in health care, ministry, and business.
Together, they operated Tomblinson’s Grocery Store across from the Mizpah Gate in Keene. After finishing school in 1940, Dudley was offered a position at Paradise Valley Hospital near San Diego, California. He later transferred to Pacific Union College in Angwin, California as assistant business manager. From there, he served as administrator of Doctors Hospital in San Jose; physician recruiter for the Texas Conference and first administrator (with Reta as his assistant) of the Menard Adventist Hospital, TX; development officer for Loma Linda University, CA; vice president for management and one of the five founders of Americana Healthcare Corporation, where he played a major role in developing fifty high quality healthcare centers in fourteen states; and administrative pastor for the Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church. After his retirement from the church, Dudley and Reta founded Tomblinson Real Estate in Keene. He was a broker for the family business and Reta served as office manager and lead realtor for a number of years.
Even though she was a devoted homemaker most of her life, Reta developed her secretarial skills to fill several positions during their moves through California, Texas and Illinois. In recent years, she enjoyed volunteering at Huguley Memorial Medical Center (now Texas Health Huguley Hospital). Reta and Dudley were the parents of two children, Edwin Wayne Tomblinson and Carolyn Jo Wear, both Southwestern Adventist University Alumni. The Tomblinsons’ granddaughter, Julie Olsen Boone, is a SWAU Alumna as well.
Dudley served as president of Southwestern Adventist University’s Alumni Association and was named to the Alumni Hall of Fame in 1996. He and Reta are lifetime members of the University’s Committee of 100 and he served as a board member for that group for many years. He was a trustee of the University from 1975 until his death in 2002. Reta preceded him in death in July 1997.
The Dudley and Reta Kent Tomblinson Scholarship was established by them in hopes of supporting students. This scholarship is for religion, business, or nursing majors with academic achievement and financial need.