Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of 10 weekly articles on individuals who made positive contributions to Stephenville, the Cross Timbers area and/or the State of Texas.
Many other noteworthy individuals, other than these 10, have made their “mark” in this area. Perhaps some of these names can be included in future columns.
BY STUART CHILTON
The last name of this person is frequently seen or heard in this area of Texas. This individual has contributed much to the legacy of his family and the betterment in the Cross Timbers area. He is a current resident of the city and is 92 years young.
He was born in Erath County, near the community of Bethel, on May 19, 1915. He graduated from Alexander High School; however, since the school was unaccredited, he had to repeat his senior year at the Academy at then John Tarleton Agricultural College in order to enter college. He played three years of college basketball at Tarleton - one in the academy and two in the junior college. He’s probably the last surviving member of Basketball Coach W.J. Wisdom’s 86 consecutive game winning streak at Tarleton.
Upon graduation from Tarleton in 1935, he planned to complete his college education at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Hitchhiking to Baton Rouge, this young athlete decided to go through Austin.
It was on the “The Drag” (Guadalupe St.) in Austin that he saw Hugh Wolfe, a Stephenville resident and a student at the University of Texas. Wolfe inquired of this person, where he was going and he advised Wolfe he was on his way to LSU to enroll and play basketball. Wolfe immediately took him to meet the Longhorns’ basketball coach. The rest is history. He stayed at Texas and played four more years of basketball - one year on the freshman team and three years on the varsity. He graduated from UT in 1939. His backup on the ‘Horns team was Denton Cooley, who later became a renown heart surgeon in Houston.
His next stop was the U.S. Army, where he spent the next 30 years, retiring in 1970 with the rank of colonel. During this time, he completed a master’s degree in Business Administration at Harvard University.
Following his release from the Army in 1970, he became vice president of fiscal affairs at Galveston Community College. He retired from this job in 1983. He and his late wife, Eve, moved to Stephenville in 1993. Eve died in 1995.
Three honors have been bestowed on this individual from Tarleton - Athletic Hall of Fame, 1983; Distinguished Alumnus, 1985; and the university’s first Honorary Doctorate, 2002.
The couple has two daughters - Marilyn of Covallis, Oregon and Carolyn of Lubbock.
He continues to be active in the community and is often seen walking, playing golf or attending athletic contests at Tarleton.
A Name to Remember - Col. Will Tate.
Dr. Chilton, a retired educator/journalist, lives in Stephenville. He occasionally writes for the Empire-Tribune.