Back to Events 2016



BILL AND RONDA APPLETON

A native of El Paso, Bill Appleton grew up on Frontera Road in the upper valley. He was drafted in 1965 but
discharged for asthma soon after. Bill attended UTEP, earning a degree in business in 1969. In those days it was not
a question of “what would I like to do” it was a question of “how do I make a living?” What opened up is what I
took.”

The carpet business came first, a job he had for three years. When Hugh Trotter, a man who attended his
church, ordered him a job at his moving company, Bill said yes. One of the salesmen working there had a pretty
neighbor named Ronda Horton, who lived on the west side and taught school in Canutillo. Meeting Ronda was
one of the greatest things to happen to Bill – the rst being meeting the Lord - and they have been married for
forty years. On April 1, 1981 – after Bill and Ronda had moved to Phoenix to run a moving company - Hugh
called to see if Bill would like to buy his company. Hugh Trotter had developed other interests and decided to
divest himself of the moving business. At that time, the size of the company was about $800,000 per year in
revenue and about 20 employees. If Hugh Trotter had not nanced the purchase of the business, no acquisition
would have been possible. “Hugh Trotter was and still is one of my favorite people,” he says.

Renamed Spectrum Relocation, the company grew to ten branches in Texas (now eight), and developed
seven other companies to handle the complexities of packing, loading, shipping and delivery of household goods.
It started subcontracting for the Department of Defense- moving military families all over the world- and a few
multi-national corporations like Hewlett Packard. “We’ll get a call saying, ‘we’ve got to move our executive from
San Francisco to Bangalore India and we’ll take care of it,” Bill says. At its peak, Spectrum had $ 70,000,000 in
annual revenue and employed about four hundred people. With changes in U.S. military presence overseas –
300,000 in Germany in 1985 down to 50,000 today – Spectrum continues to “adapt and overcome.” Today it
employs about two hundred fty people - including Bill’s daughter, Lizzy, and son-in-law, Bret Moon- handling
about 10,000 relocations a year.

Bill Appleton is a grateful man with a deep faith. As he reflects over the course of his life, he says, “ The
Lord took care of me.”



THE BROWN FOUNDATION

The Brown Foundation, Inc., based in Houston, Texas, was founded in 1951 by Herman and Margaret
Root Brown and George R. and Alice Pratt Brown. Since that time, it has awarded more than $1.4 billion in
grants–approximately 80% of these within the state of Texas–in service of its mission to support, encourage, and
assist the elds of education, the arts, and community service. Family member Walter Negley’s passion for World
War II history sparked a Brown Foundation grant to restore twenty-six of the eighty-three Tom Lea paintings
from the US Army Center of Military History at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. A 2014 conference on the role of
artist-correspondents during the war ensued, followed by a full-blown exhibition- Tom Lea, Life Magazine and
World War II – which opened at the National Museum of the Paci c War in Fredericksburg, Texas in October,
2015. e show is now on view at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana until January
2017. It is accompanied by a book, published by the Tom Lea Institute with essays by Adair Margo and Dr.
Melissa Renn, a significant contribution to World War II history. The publication is also funded through the
Brown Foundation.

“The Brown Foundation’s support of Tom Lea’s art has led to so many things,” says Tom Lea Institute board
member, Cecilia Hager. “First the restoration of his paintings, then a conference, then an exhibition that is
reaching hundreds of thousands of people….” She adds that the book “allows visitors to the exhibition to take
the paintings home in the form of full page color reproductions.” A Tom Lea World War II curriculum is next -
a collaboration between the Tom Lea Institute and the National World War II museum – which includes primary
documents in Tom Lea’s art and writing. “It’s thrilling to see what happens with passionate friends like Walter
Negley, and a funder like e Brown Foundation,” she exclaims. “As one teacher told us, ‘history is coming alive
for thefirst time’ and generations will be enriched!”



JAMES “JAMEY” H. CLEMENT JR.

“We have Jamey Clement’s passion for art, history, and tradition to thank,” declares Tania Schwartz, TLI
board member. “For the fact that Tom Lea's art is now on exhibit at the World War II Museum." When the
possibility of a show came up, James “Jamey” H. Clement, Jr., the founding chairman of the Tom Lea Institute
board, pitched into major fundraising that resulted in Lea's historic art traveling to New Orleans.

His determination to have Tom's work exhibited arose partially from his patriotic families. Both Jamey’s
and wife Judy’s fathers served in WWII–in the trenches that Tom Lea documented with erce pencil and ink
drawings made on site as an “embedded reporter.” Additionally, the couple’s two sons served in the Marine
Corps. Says Jamey, “…any interest I have in WWII and military history was heightened by their enlisting and
willingness to serve.” Jamey made sure his sons and daughter, when quite young, knew Tom, by bringing them
to El Paso to meet the Leas.

Jamey’s interests have intertwined with Tom Lea’s for 20-plus years, via the world-famous King Ranch in
south Texas–whose history Tom documented in the 1957 two-volume history of e King Ranch. Jamey is six
generations descended from ranch founder Captain Richard King, and grew up there. “I didn’t realize the
specialness of the place… until I left… to go away to school at an early age,” he recalls. Post- an MBA in nance
from UT-Austin in 1979, Jamey joined King Ranch, Inc., in 1984–by then a multinational agribusiness and
energy company. He became its vice president and treasurer, and has been a board member since 1992. He acted
as interim CEO of King Ranch while a fulltime CEO was sought, and he continues to chair the board of King
Ranch, Inc.–1999 to the present.



ROBERT & MAUREEN DECHERD

Robert and Maureen Decherd’s storied families create multiple trails through the histories of El Paso, the
State of Texas, and the nation–and into the lives of Tom and Sarah Lea. Robert’s maternal grandfather, Robert
Ewing omason, served as El Paso’s mayor. Ewing was Tom Lea Sr.’s law partner; a federal judge; a U.S.
representative; and, a vice chairman of the House Military A airs Committee during WWII. Robert’s parents,
Isabelle and Ben Decherd- then chairman of the A. H. Belo Corporation (parent of e Dallas Morning News)-
owned the painting Maclovio Sánchez and at Grey Mule. Not long after Ben’s death, Lea gave Isabelle a
larger-than-life ink portrait, My Friend Ben, which ultimately became Robert’s own. As did the chairmanship.
Robert-- after 40 years at A. H. Belo Corporation, acting as CEO for 26 years- retired in 2013. He now serves
the company as Vice Chairman of the Board.

Robert, wife Maureen, and sister, Dealey Herndon – who now owns the Maclovio piece- inherited the
friendship with the Leas. Says Robert, “Even as a 10-year-old boy, before knowing much about Tom Lea’s visual
art, I was reading his books– rst, e Brave Bulls, then e Hands of Cantú.” Adds Maureen, “I specially loved
Tom and Sarah as people. ey lived a larger life.” Robert and Maureen purchased the painting Rio Grande. In
1997, they donated it to the El Paso Museum of Art. Says Robert, “We gave the piece hoping to stimulate more
Tom Lea collectors to let go of their paintings. We wanted far more people to experience his art.”

Four years later, George W. Bush, newly inaugurated U.S. President, and First Lady Laura Bush requested
loan of the painting from the El Paso Museum of Art. e Decherds attended the celebration for the redecorated
Oval O ce, where the painting hung for the whole of Bush’s tenure–a poignant reminder of the West Texas
landscape in the White House. In 1989, family members and e Belo Foundation underwrote renovation of
the West Texas Room in the Hall of State at Fair Park in Dallas, where Lea’s murals enrich the renamed G.B. Dealey
Library walls. Says Micki Costello, TLI Board Chairman, “the Decherd's support also funded our traveling
World War II exhibit and book this year. eir consistent generosity has been awesome!”



BILL & ANN KIELY

Water centers the life-trajectory of El Paso native William “Bill” Kiely, a life he says has been “pretty
exciting and sometimes bizarre,” from a childhood playing in irrigation well water of his parents’ Vinton
farm; to earning his engineering degree from the university on the Rio Grande – now the University of Texas
at El Paso; to soldiering in Vietnam’s rice paddies. He was a pioneer in deep-water submersibles and off-shore
terminals for oil supertankers.

Tom Lea’s art also ows through Bill’s life. As a youngster, Bill would hang out near Lea’s works in the El Paso
Federal Courthouse, the State National Bank, and the El Paso Public Library while his mother did her
downtown shopping. “I knew even then there was something special about them.”

Later, just returned from Vietnam, he, “a total stranger,” knocked on Tom and Sarah’s door. “I asked a hero
from my youth if he would have a print I could purchase to take with me to my new life in D.C.” Lea gave him
a small signed print of Ranger Escort West of the Pecos. irty years later, the Kielys helped fund the publication
of Adair Margo’s Tom Lea: An Oral History. Says Bill, “While Tom and Sarah did not remember that brash young
soldier at their door 30 years previous, over the next few years, we developed a truly wonderful and strong
friendship.” Adds Ann, “When Tom saw so many of his works on our walls, he teared up, said it was like seeing
old friends.”

e Kielys helped purchase Tom’s WWII sketchbook for the El Paso Museum of Art’s Permanent Collection,
and Bill serves on the Tom Lea Institute Board. ey also gave the initial grant that sparked the Tom Lea, Life
Magazine and World War II exhibition mentioned in e Brown Foundation history above. Both Bill and Ann
say they are delighted to see the renewed interest in Tom and his works, thanks to the e orts of the Tom Lea
Institute and its many supporters. Ann speaks about Tom Lea to book clubs and at galleries, becoming a
sought-after person who actually knew the artist and has personal stories to share. Both she and Bill divide their
time between grandchildren in Houston and their “beloved Hill Country.”



DAN AND JOANN LONGORIA- MATTRESS FIRM

In 1997, Dan and Joann Longoria left a thriving Houston market to develop the Mattress Firm franchise
(with business partner Alberto Estrada) in West Texas and New Mexico. They chose El Paso as base, and opened
the first store at I-10 and Viscount, then quickly a second on Sunland Park Drive. “El Pasoans told us that
eastsiders wouldn’t drive to the west, and vice versa,” Dan explains. “We had no idea that the Border economy
was like,” he says, both smiling and shaking his head. “Levi Strauss had just closed. But we opened both stores
to a great welcome!”

On their first business visit to El Paso–just for the day “to look at the market”–their real-estate broker said
he was taking them to the “best restaurant in town.” “We ended up enjoying the best Mexican food ever at Lucy’s
in the King’s X,” Dan says. “And we just kept being surprised at the hidden jewels. We felt–and still feel today–El
Paso is a unique city. We thought it could be one of our most successful markets for the Mattress Firm chain and
that is exactly what happened!”

Nineteen years later, the El Paso- New Mexico Mattress Firm franchise has opened its twenty-eighth store
in the region–with more in the works–and employs 150-plus people in full-benefit positions. (The Mattress
Firm Corporate chain includes over 1,500 stores nationally).



SEISA MEDICAL

When it came to describing the smallest details in his paintings – even a blade of grass - Tom Lea’s deliberate
brushstrokes bore the mark of perfection. In the world of medical devices, SEISA is just as attentive to the tiniest
details needed to serve its clients. From catheters used to see something, extract something or deliver something
through a patient’s vascular system, to the stents used in bypass surgery on the human heart, SEISA specializes
in making products aligned with the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) of the Food and Drug
Administration.

Its founder, Julio Chiu, graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso in engineering, but knew he
wanted to go into business so went on to earn an MBA. He and his wife, Victoria – both natives of Ciudad
Juarez, Chihuahua – headed to Mexico City where Julio worked in investment banking until Victoria
encouraged him to return to their roots. While working in El Paso banks – the State National and First City –
Julio became the banker for Jaime Bermudez, a Juarez businessman who had built an American-style industrial
park in Juarez comprised of assembly plants-or maquiladoras- matching U.S. technology with Mexican workers.
His exposure to this new border economy led Julio to start SEISA in 1983, and an early customer in the medical
device-making business further exposed him to regulation and FDA requirements. In 1997, SEISA focused on
medical devices exclusively, and now serves a Fortune 500 company while also developing its own family of
products. Nearly 2,000 SEISA employees in Juarez, El Paso and Europe make products related to cardiology,
urology, intervascular procedures, lactating machines, feeding systems…. products so small they don’t call
attention to themselves, but that make a world of difference.

When Julio’s Chinese grandfather worked in the mines of Botopilas, Chihuahua in the early 1900’s, probing
the earth for ores, little could he know that his grandson and great-grandsons – Isaac, Aaron and Jacobo, who
have joined their father at SEISA – would make products capable of probing the human body in order to save
and preserve life.

The Chiu family is also committed to enriching life. “ There’s a lot more than just work,” says Julio. “Art
softens the heart, makes people see in multiple dimensions and becomes part of your life memories by place and
time.” SEISA helped fund La Rodadora, the children’s interactive museum in Juarez, and supports the
Fundacion Mascarenas and Ojos de Dios, which cares for the forgotten children of Juarez. “El Paso is fortunate
to have companies like SEISA,” says Tom Lea Institute board chairman, Micki Costello. “In ‘Awakening the
Giants of our History,’ it’s great to still find them in our midst!”



TEXAS MONTHLY

Texas Monthly enters its fifth decade as the state’s most prestigious publication with spirit and style. First
published in 1973, Texas Monthly sought to provide a single communal voice to a state whose population was
spread out among far- ung cities and a vast land mass. e timing was fortuitous: liquor-by-the-drink laws had
newly passed and a boom in restaurants–and concomitant sense of sophisticated urban bonhomie–exploded
throughout Texas cities. Only a year before, Southwest Airlines had launched–connecting Texas city- dwellers
and reinforcing the state’s growing sense of economic clout. Into this world, Texas Monthly debuted, edited and
written by a sta of Texans who enthusiastically took on all aspects of life in Texas–from current politics and
hot-button issues to fabled cowboy culture, from big-city lifestyle topics to touchstones of the Texas myth such
as boots and big hair. With its rst issue, Texas Monthly was a success–and its mission has never wavered: to
report on all of the state and every aspect of the state.

In pursuing this mission, Texas Monthly has always kept a focused eye on El Paso–from ongoing coverage of
the city’s cultural and civic life to authoritative recommendations about where to eat. Tom Lea and his legacy
also run like a thread in Texas Monthly–in recognition of the artist’s standing as the foremost communicator of
the state’s visual landscape. As a 1983 pro le of the artist in Texas Monthly noted, Tom Lea was “famous for his
murals.” In the August 1994 issue of Texas Monthly, Anne Dingus wrote about Lea’s battle paintings, calling the
works “the most extensive and authentic body of American art of World War II.”

Celebrating Texas, its vibrant cities, its remarkable artists–that’s what Texas Monthly is all about.



WELLS FARGO BANK

Wells Fargo’s wheel prints through El Paso hark back to stagecoach days. Henry Wells and William G. Fargo
founded Wells Fargo in 1852 to transport gold, goods, and mail delivery and to provide nancial services for
customers on the frontier. In 1858, the company helped create the Overland Mail Company the nation’s rst
cross-country stage line.

The popular stagecoach eventually gave way to the iron horse, and Wells Fargo came to El Paso in 1881
aboard the new railroad lines. Wells Fargo served the people of El Paso with reliable banking and express services
until 1918, when the federal government took over the nation’s express business as a wartime measure.
Overnight, the company went from having 10,000 offces nationwide to having one: its bank in San Francisco.

The company’s border banking heritage in El Paso dates back to State National Bank of El Paso, which
opened in 1881 in the first brick building in town–with two employees and $55,000 in assets. State National
Bank shared a correspondent relationship with Wells Fargo Bank in San Francisco, providing reciprocal services
in the handling of bank business and customer needs in their respective locations. In 1995, State National Bank
merged with Norwest, which joined forces with Wells Fargo in 1998, bringing with it strong ties to Tom Lea.
In 1974, Tom’s wife, Sarah, became the rst woman to serve on a bank board when she joined the board of
directors of State National Bank of El Paso. During her tenure, State National acquired a significant collection
of Tom’s art, including illustrations and watercolors. Today the company is proud to be part of Tom Lea Month
and to share the art with the community.



CASA FORD LINCOLN NISSAN

In 1969, Wallace “Wally” Lowen eld broke the trail for three generations of Lowenfield’s to follow…and
created a business image nearly inseparable from its founder’s. His smiling face and motto – “Our Casa Es Su
Casa” grew familiar to TV audiences and car buyers throughout the Borderlands. In the following years, the
expanding business provided quality employment, vehicles, and vehicle service – while maintaining his generous
support of El Paso and the region.

The trail began with Wally and four friends buying El Paso Ford. They promptly named it Casa Ford and
the dealership was “built from the ground up” by Wally – who’d been a yell leader at El Paso High, president of
Kappa Sigma at Texas College of Mines (where he met his wife, Patricia Milliken), a “storekeeper” on his Navy
ship during WWII, his father’s helper at Madera Lumber Company, co-founder of Lowen eld/Driver Insurance
Company, partner at Belk Insurance, and nally, the dealership.

In 1984, Wally expanded the dealership with the purchase of Sun Datsun, again promptly renamed: Casa
Nissan. On Wally’s retirement, his son Clay’s smiling face replaced his mentor/dad’s at managing the dealership.
Clay, who maintained the same sense of obligation and dedication to employees, customers and the community
that he learned from Wally, has since passed the torch on to his four sons: Justin, Luke, Ronnie and Miles. In
its third generation of local, family ownership, the Casa Dealership Group is now comprised of Casa Ford
Lincoln – the longest continually operating Ford dealership in El Paso- with Ronnie Lowen eld as General
Manager; Casa Nissan – with General Manager, Justin Lowen eld; and, Casa Kia, with General Manager Justin
Lowenfield.

“It’s cool to have us all in the dealerships,” says Luke. “We enjoy the legacy that our grandfather built.”

“My grandfather was one of the most amazing men I ever knew,” says Justin. “He was my mentor and a huge
blessing in my life and all the lives here at the dealership.”

Wally’s mother, Helen Moore, was a classmate of Tom Lea’s at El Paso High School, and the portrait he drew
of her when they were seniors opened the door for him to attend the Art Institute of Chicago. Wally and Patricia
Lowen eld collected Tom Lea’s works and read all of his books. e family’s admiration for Tom Lea also has
been passed down from generation to generation. “Having the catchy, Casa TV ads invite people to Tom Lea
Month has been a great draw,” says Tom Lea Institute board member, Tita Hunt. “We’ve had people leave their
hotel rooms for an event after hearing Justin tell them about El Paso’s ‘world famous artist’ on TV. Casa sure
helps us get the word out!”





Moleen Foundation  -  AT&T
Will Harvey- EP Riverbend Development
Forma Group Jordan Foster Construction
Bill Helm- In*Situ Architecture
Gene Wolf and Mark Osborn- Kemp Smith Law Firm



Don and Elizabeth Margo - Dede Rogers
Isha Rogers - Jon and Lory Rogers



Kiewt Abrams - Amy and Clement Marcus
William and Suzanne Lovelady - Sarah and Robert Shiloff
Clay and Rhonda Lowenfield - Scott Hulse Law Firm



Back to top