To some people, they were merely names, good for local trivia or simply for name-dropping. To others, they were icons, high on marble pedestals, untouchable and remote. They commanded respect even if we could not remember exactly why. We hope to remind you why. To friends and certainly family, they were inspirations, towers of strength and wisdom shining bright with kindness and forgiveness. They belonged to generations then, now and forthcoming. They and their works benefited all, especially Fort Worth, but beyond. We pay tribute to them here.
| by Gail Bennison |
Van Cliburn More than 55 years ago, in the midst of a Cold War between the United States and the United Soviet Socialist Republics, a piano prodigy from Kilgore, Texas, melted the cultural barriers between the East and the West. On April 1, 1958, 23-year-old Van Cliburn captured the first prize in the First International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Cliburn’s performances included the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No. 1 and the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No. 3. Premier Nikita Khrushchev himself gave permission for the Soviet judges to award the prize.
Returning home from Moscow, Cliburn received a ticker-tape parade in New York City, the only time a classical musician was ever honored with the highest tribute possible by the City of New York. Cliburn lost his battle with bone cancer and died in his Westover Hills home on Feb. 27. He was 78. Harvey Lavan Cliburn Jr. was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, on July 12, 1934. His father was an executive with Magnolia Petroleum, now Exxon Mobil. His mother and piano teacher, Rildia Bee O’Bryan Cliburn, was a talented piano student of Arthur Friedheim, who was a pupil of Franz Liszt. Van began piano lessons at age 3. At 6 years old, he moved with his family to Kilgore, and at 12, he won a statewide competition, which enabled him to debut with the Houston Symphony Orchestra.
At 17, he entered The Julliard School and studied under Rosina Lhevinne, and at 20, he won the Leventritt Award and made his Carnegie Hall debut. Early in his career, a group of friends and admirers began the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition as a living legacy to Cliburn’s efforts to aid the development of young artists. The first competition was held in 1962. On March 1, 2008, the Van Cliburn Foundation honored him on the 50th anniversary of his historic win with a black-tie gala held at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth.
Preston Murdoch Geren Jr. A legendary architect, civic leader, war hero, philanthropist and devoted family man, Preston Geren Jr.’s vision shaped much of the aesthetic character of the city of Fort Worth, and well beyond. Geren died June 12 at 89.
With Preston M. Geren Architects & Engineers, he built numerous hospitals, churches, banks and office buildings. Many of his favorite projects were for Texas universities, including Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Texas Christian University, the University of Texas at Arlington and the University of Texas Medical School. His firm served as associate architect with Louis Kahn on the Kimbell Art Museum and in designing schools in 137 Texas school districts and many buildings on the Texas A&M campus. The first to receive the Fort Worth A&M Lifetime Achievement Award, Geren sponsored seven scholarships at the university. He honored his father with the Preston M. Geren Auditorium, and his grandfather, with support for the Frederick Giesecke Lecture Series.
Graduating from Arlington Heights High School in 1941, Geren attended Texas A&M University, interrupting his studies to join the Army in World War II. He was awarded the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. After the war, Geren graduated with a degree in architecture and engineering from Georgia Tech and joined his father’s firm. Geren ultimately led the firm to become one of the largest and most prestigious in Texas.
Geren served as president of the Exchange Club, chairman of the Trinity Improvement Association, organizer and president of Streams & Valleys, and board member of the Fort Worth Children’s Hospital, Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and Fort Worth Symphony. He was a member of the President George H.W. Bush Library Committee and the Texas A&M Chancellor and President’s advisory committees. Geren’s wife, Colleen Edwards Geren, died in 2012. They left a living legacy of five children, Charlie Geren, Pete Geren, Eva Geren Motheral, Chandra Edwards Geren and Dr. B.T. “Toby” Erwin III, 11 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Chris Kyle Born in Odessa in 1974, the son of a church deacon, Christopher Scott Kyle joined the Navy in 1999. His skills recognized, Kyle was quickly transferred to the SEALs. He received numerous honors in service, including two Silver Stars and five Bronze Stars with valor. He also received the Grateful Nation Award, given by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Following his combat deployments, he became chief instructor for training Naval Special Warfare Sniper and Counter-Sniper teams, and later wrote the first Navy SEAL sniper manual. After four combat tours as a sniper in Operation Iraqi Freedom and elsewhere between 1999 and 2009, Kyle went on to write a book, American Sniper: The Autobiography of the Most Lethal Sniper in US Military History. He also co-founded Craft International, a security company that provides training to military, police, corporate and civilian clients, and Fitco Cares, a non-profit organization that created the Heroes Project to provide free in-home fitness equipment, individualized programs, personal training and life-coaching to in-need veterans with disabilities, Gold Star families, or those suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Kyle became a reality TV personality on Stars Earn Stripes. On Feb. 2, 38-year-old Kyle and a companion, Chad Littlefield, were shot and killed at the Rough Creek Ranch-Lodge-Resort shooting range in Erath County by 25-year-old fellow veteran Marine Eddie Ray Routh. Kyle and Littlefield had taken Routh to the gun range in an effort to help him with PTSD. A memorial service was held for Kyle at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Feb. 11. He was buried on Feb. 12 in Texas State Cemetery in Austin. The funeral procession from his home in Midlothian to Austin stretched more than 200 miles. Thousands lined Interstate 35 to pay their final respects. Kyle left behind wife Taya and two children.
Nancy Lee Bass Nancy Lee Bass was one of Fort Worth’s true treasures. She was the epitome of elegance, grace and benevolence. Known for her lifelong community involvement and philanthropic support of the arts, education, human services and healthcare, Bass died on Feb. 28 at age 95. On March 7, on what would have been her 96th birthday, one of the tower bells of First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth tolled 96 times in her honor. She and her late husband, Perry Richardson Bass, took their wedding vows there and were married for 65 years. Perry Bass died in 2006 at age 91. They gifted the church bells two decades ago. The couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1991 by gifting $50 million to institutions they loved, from Yale University to Lena Pope Home to First United Methodist Church. The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra performed a memorial concert for this beloved Fort Worth philanthropist in the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall in downtown Fort Worth on March 16.
Bass served for three decades as vice president of the Sid W. Richardson Foundation. Active as a volunteer in numerous organizations, boards on which she served include: the Smithsonian Institution National Council; the Collectors Committee of the National Gallery of Art; the University of Texas at Austin Development Board; the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; and the advisory board of the Van Cliburn Piano Competition, Fort Worth. Also in Fort Worth, she was a member of the Junior League, the Jewel Charity Ball, past president of The Assembly and a member of the Fort Worth Garden Club. She received the Distinguished Alumna Award from the University of Texas Ex-Students Association and the Golden Deeds Award from the Exchange Club of Fort Worth. Bass was the first recipient of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame Gloria Lupton Tennison Pioneer Award, given to women who do extraordinary things and make a difference. Perhaps her greatest legacy is in her sons, Sid Richardson Bass, Edward Perry Bass, Robert Muse Bass and Lee Marshall Bass, all of whom have made enduring contributions to their community.
Richard “Dick” Siegel Dick Siegel became an icon of the airwaves in the early 1980s with fun and always-memorable radio traffic reports from his WBAP 820 AM Jetcopter 820. He was an accomplished helicopter pilot whose experiences included flying Elvis from a concert to a hotel and piloting the flyovers for the introduction filming of Southfork Ranch for the television show Dallas. His stepfather taught him to fly, and he earned his pilot’s license when he was 16. One half of the legendary “Hal and Dick” radio personality team, he suffered a heart attack and died on Jan. 3 at age 73. Siegel was Hal Jay’s on-air partner from 1981 to 2003. While providing traffic information from his helicopter, Siegel was part of the popular Sam From Sales comedy bits that aired for many years on the station. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram even had a comic strip called The Adventures of Hal ‘n Dick.
Siegel was born in Ohio and spent much of his childhood in a Catholic orphanage in Illinois, where his alcoholic mother had left him. At 7, he returned home to his mother and stepfather, who was a Jewish Air Force veteran. Siegel started in radio in McAllen in 1959. He worked for the Brewster County Sheriff’s Department in Alpine and Bell Helicopter Textron in Fort Worth before becoming a traffic reporter for KLIF-AM in Dallas. Siegel then resumed his career as a commercial helicopter pilot with Southwest Service Co. in Amarillo, where he monitored 7,000 miles of high-voltage lines, finally as a pilot for a Kentucky coal mine operator. Siegel had heart surgery in 2000 and 2002. After leaving WBAP in 2003, he worked for a short time in radio in Fort Worth before retiring to Granbury. Most recently, Siegel had been hosting a morning oldies show on KLDE 104.9 FM in Eldorado, a small town about 50 miles south of San Angelo in West Texas.
Gerald “Jerry” O. Russell Jerry Russell will be forever remembered for the legacy of live theater that he left behind in North Texas. Set to begin its 35th season at the time of his death, Stage West was the setting through which Russell left his most lasting theatrical mark. During his stage career, Russell was lauded for the numerous roles he played at Stage West and in the surrounding North Texas community. He was considered one of the most impactful theater directors and mentors in Texas history. Russell died peacefully on Sept. 5, at age 77, from pneumonia-related complications. A tribute to his life was held Sept. 15 at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center. The tribute began with a formal ceremony in the Scott Theatre.
Founding Stage West as a 65-seat adjunct to his small, downtown Houston Street sandwich shop that he opened in 1978, Russell quickly became known as one of the pre-eminent talents in Texas’ theater community. He also was known through his role as teacher and mentor in the Texas Wesleyan theater program. The last character he was to play on stage was one of his most loved—a one-man stage play about the life and impact of Clarence Darrow. Russell believed passionately in justice for the least among us, as well as in an intellectual and honest approach to one’s work. Throughout his life, he was never far from the theater, first taking on roles in community theater, and later embarking on what was to be his most profound life’s work—the founding and nurturing of Stage West, a professional actors’ equity theater. Russell took pride in the day-to-day accomplishments of each of his five children. Survivors include his wife, Suzi McLaughlin; daughters, Kathy Russell, Wendy Russell Davis and Jennifer Russell James; sons, Christopher Neal Russell and Gerald Joseph “Joe” Russell; 11 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
David “Kidd” Kraddick Radio and television personality Kidd Kraddick dedicated his life to making people smile every morning, and for 21 years his foundation has been dedicated to bringing joy to thousands of chronically and terminally ill children.
Kraddick died of cardiac disease on July 27, doing what he loved, hosting his Kidd’s Kids charity golf event near New Orleans. He was 53. The nationally syndicated KHKS, known as KISS-FM morning radio show, Kidd Kraddick in the Morning, is based in Las Colinas and aired throughout the U.S. It is syndicated by Kraddick’s company, YEA Networks. The show is broadcast on more than 75 Top 40 and Hot AC radio stations and also is transmitted globally on American Forces Radio Network. The show’s cast is seen weeknights on the nationally syndicated TV show Dish Nation.
Born David Peter Cradick, he received his nickname “Kidd” from a radio program director. Kraddick began his career in Miami. He attended the University of Miami for a semester but dropped out to study broadcasting.
Over the years, Kraddick moved around to stations in Salt Lake City, Los Angeles and Tampa. Moving to Dallas set his career in motion when the morning show went into syndication, and he moved the production to an independent studio in Las Colinas. Kraddick has won numerous awards, including the prestigious Marconi Award for Radio Personality of the Year. He has been named Radio and Records Major Market Personality of the Year and America’s Best Radio Personality. He was inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame in 2006. His daughter, Caroline Cradick, announced in August that she will take over Kidd’s Kids. The charity sends 50 seriously ill and physically challenged children to Walt Disney World each year. This year’s trip to Orlando was set to take place Nov. 21-25.
Richard “Dick” T. Andersen Tarrant County Commissioner Dick Andersen was known as a fun-loving character, an avid outdoorsman and a man with a loyal heart for his friends and his district. He played an integral role in the restoration of the historic Tarrant County Courthouse. Andersen died on Sept. 5 at his Fort Worth home. He was 85. Andersen was born in Chicago in 1928. He was proud of his Nordic heritage and spoke Danish at home and Italian and Polish on the streets. He joined the Marine Corps while his father was in the Navy but was discharged after a football injury. Andersen moved to Fort Worth in 1940 to attend Texas Christian University, where he worked throughout to pay his tuition. After graduating in 1951 with a degree in business and psychology, he went to work for Dunn and Bradstreet. It was there that he met his future bride, Ava. Dick and Ava were married for 61 years at the time of his death. After working for Kimberly-Clark as a regional sales manager in West Texas and then Houston, he returned to Fort Worth to work in construction and land development. Andersen entered public service as a city council member in Everman. In 1968, he became the Tarrant County Precinct 1 Commissioner. He retired as commissioner after 20 years, in 1988, the same year the sub-courthouse on Alta Mesa was named the Dick Andersen Building. Dick and Ava enjoyed traveling, and Dick enjoyed hunting and fishing throughout the world. They also enjoyed their lake house at Lake Granbury.
Ruth Carter Stevenson Like her father, Ruth Carter Stevenson leaves behind a generous and beautiful legacy. Under her leadership, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art opened to the public in January 1961. The daughter of the museum’s namesake, Amon G. Carter Sr., Stevenson was solely responsible for seeing that her father’s wish to establish a museum for the city of Fort Worth was realized. Over its history, the Carter has acquired a collection of American art considered to be among the finest in the world. Stevenson was active in many civic, philanthropic and botanical pursuits until the end of her life. She died at her Fort Worth home on Jan. 6 at age 89. In 1960, Stevenson began a 23-year association with the Fort Worth City Art Commission; many of these years she served as chairman. In 1963 she founded the Arts Council of Fort Worth and Tarrant County.
Stevenson’s involvement with the arts reached far beyond the state of Texas. She served on the Visiting Committee of the Fogg Museum at Harvard; joined the boards of the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Trust for Historic Places, and the American Federation of Arts; and became the first woman appointed to the board of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. In 1987, she was invited to the Supreme Court building in Washington as an honored guest at Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s event for women who had made a difference in American society.
During the museum’s 50th anniversary year, it acquired a rare painting by Mary Cassatt in honor of her decades of leadership and guidance. In April of that year, she was honored at a gala on the museum’s plaza. On that occasion, Earl A. Powell III, director of the National Gallery and a longtime friend of Stevenson, made remarks in her honor; “Over its history, the Amon Carter has put together one of the great collections of American art. It is a great, great place Ruth has created for Fort Worth and the nation.”
Scott (Scotty) G. Sherman Champion boxer and promoter, successful businessman, irrepressible wisecracker and devoted family man, Scotty Sherman was the embodiment of carpe diem. Sherman died on Feb. 8. He was 79. A true self-made man, Sherman went from selling tubes of oil out of the trunk of his car in high school to opening the auto retail chain Scotty’s Auto Supply, a Fort Worth icon, with his brother Jack in 1952. He was 19 years old.
With the help of his wife, Selma, he started the manufacturing and distribution factories Eagle Motive Industries, S&S Distributing, and Kool Clutch Manufacturing. After retiring from the automotive industry, he started Sherman Enterprises, a private investment firm, and served on the boards of XTO Energy, Cross Timbers, Worth Bank, The Fort Worth Club, where he had an office for more than 30 years, Fort Worth Bank and Trust and as honorary board member of MorningStar Partners.
After selling his automotive business, Sherman began mentoring and managing Fort Worth athletes by building Boxing Management, Inc. It was one of the highlights of his life to manage Paulie Ayala through three world championships. Sherman was a strong supporter of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth, and a member of the Moslah Shrine Temple, an honor he shared with his brother. Sherman continued to play golf at Shady Oaks Country Club with his closest friends almost until the day he died and lived to win a wager with friends on the Super Bowl. He and Selma had a home in Colorado for 25 years where he loved skiing with his children and grandchildren. Not long before his death, Scotty fulfilled Selma’s dream to climb the Taj Mahal and ride elephants. He died of congestive heart failure surrounded by his wife of 56 years; his daughters, Kathy Sherman Suder, Dana Kleiman and her husband, David, and Jackie Sherman; and his eight grandchildren.
Henry Lee Luskey He always believed that family came first. Devoted husband, loving father and grandfather, Fort Worth businessman and philanthropist, Henry Luskey will be remembered for his loyalty to his family and friends and his constant care for others. Luskey died peacefully on Nov. 10, his 65th birthday, surrounded by a loving and devoted family. Born in Fort Worth in 1948, Luskey graduated from Paschal High School in 1966 and from the University of Texas at Austin in 1970. After graduation, he married the love of his life, Jeanie Hirsch. They moved to Fort Worth in June 1970, beginning a 43-year adventure through life together. Henry and Jeanie had two children, Steven Luskey and Valrie Luskey Eberstein, and two grandchildren, Simon and Charlotte. One of his greatest joys was being a “Poppi.”
Luskey’s first job after college graduation was in public accounting with the firm Arthur Young. He earned his CPA while Jeanie taught kindergarten. In February 1971, Henry and Jeanie opened their first retail store, Henry’s Jean Scene, and over the next 23 years, expanded throughout Texas, opening 19 stores. This included Cambridge Clothiers and Seville Shop in Fort Worth. Luskey was the primary supplier of private school uniforms for the greater Fort Worth area. He developed a niche within his retail operation, encompassing everything from manufacturing to sales. Luskey gave big to his community, serving on the board of directors of Ridglea Bank and on the boards of Lena Pope Home and Country Day School. He was involved in many civic and social organizations including Steeplechase, Jewel Charity, Shady Oaks Country Club and Magnolia League. Luskey is a past president of Congregation Ahavath Sholom and was chairman of its finance committee for more than 25 years.
Luskey ended his retail career in 1994 and followed his true passion in finance and the stock market. He earned numerous awards for his achievements with Prudential Securities, including the Chairman’s Club status for the top 100 producers nationwide. In 2006, Luskey moved his financial group to Morgan Stanley, and was currently executive director of The Luskey Group. For the last four years, the business publication Barron’s selected him to be on its list of “Top 1000 Financial Advisors” in the country.
William Y. Harvey Even when he was having a down time, you’d never have known it. He treated everyone like a long-lost friend. His gift of spinning a tale was legendary. Fort Worth businessman and philanthropist, Bill Harvey, died peacefully Nov. 8, just 18 days shy of his 82nd birthday. He left behind four children and 11 grandchildren.
Harvey graduated from the University of Georgia in 1954 and enjoyed the rank of 1st Lt. in the U.S. Air Force from 1954 to 1957. He moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth area in 1959 and started his real estate company in 1961. Active in community affairs, he headed the effort to land the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Fort Worth; and his firm donated the land plus a considerable amount of cash for the plant. In the mid-80s, Harvey’s joint ventures sold more than 5,000 acres to Ross Perot Jr., the land on which Alliance Airport and the Texas Motor Speedway were developed. Back in Dallas in 1967, he started the Windmill Dinner Theatre, and before selling in 1972, had other dinner theaters in Houston, Phoenix and Fort Worth. He was on the founding boards of John Sharpe’s United Savings Life Insurance Co. (later named Transport Life Insurance Co.) and the board of Fort Worth National Bank (Texas American Bank).
Harvey served on the Advisory Board of Directors for Food for the Hungry, a worldwide support organization, and provided financing to ship surplus Texas wheat to an Ethiopia famine in 1988.
Harvey loved Georgia Bulldog football and was an avid hunter, fisherman and golfer. One of his favorite pastimes was hitting golf balls and hanging out at River Crest Country Club, which was like his second home.
Harvey was one of the original owners of the Dallas ABA Basketball Team (Chapparals). He was a huge fan of Texas Rangers baseball and was one of the club’s longest-tenured season ticket holders. Fort Worth businessman Brad Corbett and Harvey put together the five other general partners to buy the Rangers baseball team in 1973, and Harvey sold his stock to then President Bush in 1988.