Editor’s Note: This is the seventh 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
The headline in the May 12, 1993, edition of The Stephenville Empire-Tribune read, “Stephenville legend dies, but leaves a legacy behind in the town he loved.”
That headline portrays the individual featured in today’s “A Name to Remember.”
This person was born Aug. 28, 1909, in Lingleville. He attended the Lingleville school through the 10th grade, graduating from Dublin High School in 1927. Although he would not marry until 1933, he would meet his future wife, Louise, in 1926 in Dublin High School.
In the fall of 1927, he enrolled as a freshman at Texas Tech College (now University) in Lubbock. Following a year at Tech, he received a teaching certificate and was employed as the principal and teacher at a two-teacher school in Center Plains (Hale County. Returning to Tech in 1930, he completed the requirement for another teacher certificate in 1932.
He then took a job as principal and teacher at Stoneback ISD, which was also located in Hale County. During his first year at Stoneback, he lived in the school building and received $95 a month in school warrants. He traded these warrants for groceries.
In 1933, Louise and he were married. This marriage would last for 60 years. In later years, this individual would say, “This was the only time in our lives I was the boss. I was the Stoneback principal and Louise was the teacher.”
During their last two years in Stoneback, the couple owned and operated a theater in nearby Lockney in Floyd County. In 1937, the couple purchased a theater in Crosbyton in Crosby County. They operated this theater for 13 years.
During World War II, he joined the Navy in 1944, serving 19 of his 26 months of
active duty in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. While he was in the Navy, Louise and their two-year-old son, Clinton, continued to live in Crosbyton, while Louise operated the theater. This son is now a retired physician in Amarillo. Upon returning from the service, this individual was elected Mayor of Crosbyton in 1946, and served in this position until 1950.
After purchasing five theaters in Stephenville in 1950, the family moved here. Three of the theaters were located downtown, while the other two were drive-in theaters on the outskirts of town. He would close three theaters and continue to operate the Starlight Drive-In Theater and the Majestic Theater until he sold them in 1969.
This individual was the key person, who diligently worked for passage of the Tarleton Four-Year Bill in the legislative sessions of 1955, 1957 and 1959.
His tireless efforts and devoted leadership finally paid off during the 1959 legislature. The Tarleton Bill was approved by the legislature, advancing Tarleton from a fully state-supported junior college to a fully state-supported senior college. Gov. Price Daniel signed the Tarleton Four-Year Bill into law on April 27, 1959.
This person would later serve on the Coordinating Board for Higher Education in Texas. He was appointed by Gov. Preston Smith, whom he had known in the theater business in the South Plains area.
He served as Mayor of Stephenville from 1964-1970. He was President of the Lions Club, President of the Chamber of Commerce and was an active member of the Graham Street Church of Christ.
He died in Stephenville on May 11, 1993, at the age of 83.
“A Name to Remember” - Mr. Jack Arthur
Dr. Stuart Chilton, a retired educator/journalist, lives in Stephenville. He occasionally writes for this newspaper.