Kyle Tough

The Saga of Texas A&M's Rise to Power in Athletics and Agriculture, 1902-1956

Foreword by Mark A. Hussey, PhD., Vice Chancellor and Dean, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Kyle Field Texas A&M Univeristy circa 1952

Kyle Field 1942

KYLE TOUGH, an electrifying non-fiction saga, contains a large amount of previously unpublished history unearthed by Ms. Donalson during her documentation of the important events of early Texas A&M athletics, agriculture, and education which shaped Texas A&M. The author highlights the Aggie spirit of service, leadership, perseverance, and accomplishment in a heartwarming and inspiring account. This A&M "schooling" built the character of the military-oriented student body, the Corps of Cadets, into the great leaders they are today (see TV interview below).

The book is a mixture of the Corps of Cadets' honor in the midst of heartbreak, love, loyalty, and letdowns — even though they continued life via a little Aggie ingenuity as they worked to improve the lives of farmers, first in Texas, then throughout the United States and finally in Latin America. That brings us to Edwin J. Kyle.

Those who live around Bryan/College Station, Texas and see the Kyle name atop the huge Kyle Field football stadium on the Texas A&M University campus assume he must have been a football great. Kyle Tough explains his greatness was in volunteering in athletics because he felt great athletes made great military men.

Following the same vein, industrious Aggies believing they could feed the world, pushed A&M to greatness through its life-enhancing innovations. Most importantly, diversity, promoted both by A&M and Kyle, formed the foundation for their work.

Kyle's being the namesake of Kyle Field and his career as longtime dean of the School of Agriculture at A&M forms the basis of the Kyle Tough storyline. Ultimately the book discloses how Kyle's vision affected many people, and chronicles other subjects important to everyday living like the food we eat, and the education we aspire to.

Video courtesy of KAMU-TV / Brazos Valley Magazine

About the author:

Barbara Donalson (Althaus), an honored historian and writer, spent 10 years in researching and writing Kyle Tough. Her concurrent summer projects include publications for the Brazos County Historical Commission and chairing the program for President George H. Bush's Library World War II Celebration, including writing war histories of several veterans. The author retired to Bryan, Texas and the heritage of Texas A&M where her grandfather, '1895, and County Extension agent father, '1933, received their college educations. She attended the University of Texas School of Pharmacy and enjoyed a lengthy career in ranching, sales, real estate and banking. Her family has been connected with Texas agriculture for five generations.


KYLE TOUGH is the story of Texas A&M and Edwin J. Kyle from the "family perspective." Kyle's life is best summarized by the three "A's": 1) his contributions to A&M College ATHLETICS; 2) his contributions to AGRICULTURE; and 3) his contributions as an AMBASSADOR (to Guatemala). The life of Edwin J. Kyle also reflects how Texas A&M history and culture have influenced, interfaced with, and connected students, families, and friends since it opened its doors in 1876. The life of a university such as Texas A&M infuses the life of the community, the state, the nation, and the world of which it is a part.

Dr. Henry C. Dethloff, PhD, Professor Emeritus of History, author of A Centennial History of A&M University, 1876-1976, Texas Aggies Go to War


“This is a story that has been waiting to be told.” This worthy volume describes the lifetime achievements of a truly great individual who proceeded from a rural beginning near a small town which carried his family name, to a legendary career as one of the most respected leaders in the notable history of Texas A&M. …he contributed decades of guidance to the athletic programs on the College Station campus. One undeniable reflection of that portion of his unending work is the title of the great football stadium there today. One of the key qualities of these pages is the insight and warmth… provided by Barbara Donalson, a grand-niece of Dean Kyle."

Haskell Monroe, Dean of Faculties Emeritus, Texas A&M University


Kyle Tough tells an untold Horatio Alger-type story of Edwin Jackson Kyle, who embodied and helped create the Aggie Spirit in the formative years of Texas A&M University. During roughly the first 50 years of the 20th Century, Kyle, as professor and then Dean of the College of Agriculture, helped put A&M agriculture on the world map and … as the equivalent of what is now titled Athletic Director, he helped A&M sports achieve national pre-eminence, including winning the national football championship in 1939. … This is a book for all Aggies for all time. You can’t really understand Aggie tradition without it.

Dr. W. R. "Bill" Klemm, D.V.M., PhD. A&M Professor for 45 years, noted author, also known as the "Memory Medic."


Kyle Tough is a fascinating account of one man’s odyssey through the trials and also the successes of life in academia. …Graphically and with no holds barred, Donalson’s book tells the story of Edwin Kyle – teacher, agronomist, feeder of the world, diplomat, and the biggest booster of college football at the gridiron-crazy Texas A&M University….But don’t get me wrong, Kyle Tough is much more than football. It’s the story of how Edwin Kyle – a grade school dropout - went on to become Dean of Texas A&M University’s world-renowned School of Agriculture. And along the way, he had to fight his own wars with some jealous and spiteful university colleagues who were far less than collegial. If you want to know the definition of dedication,… throw your dictionary away and read Barbara Donalson’s inspiring work Kyle Tough.

William T. "Bill" Harper, “author/historian,” of Eleven Days in Hell

Kyle Tough

Quotations from Kyle Tough emphasizing A&M's long-lasting legacies:

"Norton, coach during A&M's championship years of 1939-1943, played all the reserves in every game. That allowed each athlete to reach his potential, and enhanced recruiting."

School of Agriculture:
"Professors worked right alongside the students. The relationship is unique because they worked so closely and created a bond."

"A&M's Agriculture Administration degree-plan improved the lives of countless farm families, first in Texas, and then spread across the United States and Latin America. It is still being used today."

Corps of Cadets:
"Incredibly the unspoken Code of Silence stood like a stone wall ..." in defending an A&M family.

Latin America connection:
The diplomatic experiment in Guatemala (1945), involving an Aggie as the first ambassador trained in agriculture and education (Edwin Kyle), started the foreign aid now existing through United States embassies worldwide we now know as USAID.


  • A&M College of Agriculture, Agri-Life Center
  • A&M Development Foundation, Victoria, Texas
  • A&M Extension Retirees
  • A&M Agri-Leader Magazine interview 2013 Fall
  • Texas A&M Women, College Station
  • Texas A&M Lettermen Assn., Kyle Field Jumbotron
  • City of College Station, Exploring History Lead-off lecture, Jan 2011
  • City of Kyle, Grand Marshal, Heritage Day Parade
  • St. Andrews Church, Downtown Dialogs, Bryan, TX
  • First Presbyterian, Upper Crust Class
  • UMC PrimeTimers
  • AboutTown Press news, feature article
  • TxAgs, Kyle Field video documentary
  • KAMU-TV, Texas A&M interview
  • KEOS 89.9 fm radio interview, Bryan
  • Various volunteer service groups

Contact author Barbara Donalson at 979-260-2951 for public speaking and media interviews.

Kyle Tough Hardcover


On Sale Now

Kyle Tough, the Saga of Texas A&M's Rise to Power
in Athletics and Agriculture, 1902-1956

also features: Kyle Field and diplomatic service
by Barbara Donalson (Althaus)

Celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the School of Agriculture
Celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the Morrill Act


Allow 3-6 weeks for delivery.