Editor’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of 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, have made their “mark” in this area. Perhaps some of these persons can be included in future stories.
BY STUART CHILTON Special Contributor
This semi-retired individual was born in Bunyan, Erath County, on Aug. 2, 1923.
He received his public school education in Bunyan, Dublin and Stephenville. During his senior year at Stephenville High School, he decided to drop out of school and head for California to work in a defense plant - Consolidated Aircraft in San Diego. He was 17 years old. He would later transfer to the company’s plant in Fort Worth.
In July, 1943, he was drafted into the Army Air Corps, and was soon sent to England. During World War II, he spent three years overseas in England, France and Germany. He was attached to the Eighth Air Force. When the war ended with Japan on Aug. 14, 1945, he was preparing to go to the Pacific Theater. The dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan on Aug. 6 and Aug. 9, 1945, quickly ended the Pacific War.
Prior to his Army Air Corps service, he married the former Betty Watson of Dublin in January 1943. While he was overseas, Betty worked at radio station, KFJZ, in Fort Worth. The couple would later have two sons - the older son is a county judge, while the other and his wife are house parents at the Cal Farley Girls’ Home in Whiteface.
Upon his discharge from the Army Air Corps in late 1945, Betty and he returned to Stephenville. He began working as a salesman for the Paul Revere Life Insurance Co.
In 1948, he began his own insurance agency in Stephenville. He would head this agency for 42 years. From 1953 until 1990, the agency was the largest in Erath County.
In 1960, he was elected as a delegate from Texas to the Democrat’s National Convention in Los Angeles. It was at this convention that Sen. John F. Kennedy from Massachusetts was nominated for President of the United States and Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson of Texas was nominated for Vice President. One of the first persons he met at the convention hall was Walter Cronkite, the noted television newsman.
This Erath County native has been most active in the Lions Club, the American Legion, the Masonic Lodge, the First United Methodist Church, the Chamber of Commerce and many other organizations in the city. He has served on the Stephenville ISD School Board. He was instrumental in getting the Junior Livestock Show underway. For almost 20 years he operated a Gallery of Original Art in downtown Stephenville.
When help was needed or money was to be raised for a worthy cause in Stephenville and the Cross Timbers area, this person was often asked to serve.
“A Name to Remember” - Mr. Brad Thompson
Dr. Chilton, a retired educator/journalist, lives in Stephenville. He occasionally writes for this newspaper.