Don Hicks, the founder with his mother and father of the Mayan Dude Ranch and a pivotal figure in the development of Bandera County’s cowboy-influenced hospitality industry, has died at the age of 88, his family said in an obituary that will conclude this article.
Hicks was described as a man of deep religious faith who loved life, his family and the ranch they built along with the people he came to know and serve throughout the region and the world.
“Don was an iconic figure in the growth and development of Bandera County’s tourism industry,” Patricia Moore, the executive director of the Bandera County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said in a letter she sent to the bureau’s board about Hicks. “He and his wife Judy and all the
Hicks clan have helped put Bandera County on the map regionally, nationally and internationally with their very own sense of ‘horsepitality’.”
Moore said he was a founding member of the CVB board and helped promote the county’s interests in all his outreaches.
Bandera County Judge Richard Evans remembers Hicks as being his volunteer football coach in elementary school at St. Joseph’s School.
“He was a great guy, very caring,” said Evans about a man who helped create one of the state’s premier dude ranches and also served on the board of the Bandera Independent School District. “We were very lucky to have him in our community.”
Hicks’ obituary, compiled with the assistance of Grimes Funeral Chapels, reads:
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. “ - John 16:33 Don lived in celebration of God’s infinite blessings, approaching life with good cheer, fervent for his family and enthusiastic about his passions.
Don Hicks was born Sept. 21, 1931, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Surrounded by the love and prayers of his family, Don embraced his eternal rest on Sept. 23, 2019, in Bandera, Texas.
He is preceded in death by his sons, Rand Michael and Terry John, and is survived in death by his wife, Judith, brother Mack, 10 children, 31 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren.
Comforted by fond memories, his family cherishes their experiences with him: attending football games at the University of Notre Dame, Don’s alma mater; spending Sunday afternoons watching the Green Bay Packers; making fantasy football trades with Don’s formidable team, the Shillelaghs; tailgating at Milwaukee Brewers baseball games; vacationing to Don’s and Judy’s homes in Rosbeg, Ireland and Port Aransas, Texas.
Don also knew the importance of appreciating the joys of every day - finding great pleasure in holding hands with Judy at church, walking his white German shepherds on the beach and feeding the deer and wild turkeys at the ranch.
Family members remember their father and grandfather listening to the WOAI post game report on the way home from San Antonio Spurs games, enjoying a Guinness Stout at five o’clock and playing endless card games of Spades and Gin Rummy.
Lured by the maverick spirit of Texas, Don, with his father, E.A., and mother, Grace, purchased the Mayan Dude Ranch in 1951. Sporting a Texas-sized smile and black felt hat, Don established himself as an ambassador of good will, warmly welcoming generations of guests and promoting Bandera as the Cowboy Capital vacation destination.
Inspired by entrepreneurship, Don and Judy were among the first to introduce the European travel market to Texas, representing the state at international travel showcases and conventions.
For his work with Texas tourism, the state decorated Don, naming him honorary deputy sheriff to the Texas Police Association, honorary deputy sheriff of Houston County and admiral in the Texas Navy.
However, Don will be remembered most for his strong faith and his devoted service to the church, as a parish advisory board member, lector, Eucharistic minister and a Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) teacher at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Bandera.
Combining his dedication to the church and his love of athletics, he coached St. Joseph’s state championship Mustangs, mentoring young men on the fields and in their faith.
Humbled by His illimitable graces, Don cherished his prayer time with God, reciting the rosary and reading from his beloved Pieta prayer book, edges worn with years of use.
In thanksgiving for their piety, Don and Judy were bestowed the Diploma of Redemptorist Oblate, the highest recognition conferred to a lay person by the worldwide Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.
The gift of faith he bestowed on his family will forever be his legacy. Kneeling in the rows of St. Stanislaus church. Don’s extended family is his testament to the power of God’s love and the source of his greatest happiness.
Undoubtedly, one of Don’s favorite cheers was the Notre Dame “Victory March.” One only needed merely to mention the word “cheer,” and Don would enthusiastically rally with the chorus.
He encouraged those in need, inspired those he touched and brightened the lives of those he leaves behind.
Now it is his time to triumph, to receive the rewards of a life dedicated to Christ. “Loyal son, march onward to victory” in heaven. We will never forget you, and we will forever cheer you on.
The rosary service will be held on Wednesday, Sept. 25, at 5 p.m. at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Bandera.
The funeral service will be held on Thursday, Sept. 26, at 10 a.m., at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church.
The family deeply appreciates your prayers and attendance at the services; however, they will not be hosting a reception following the funeral service.
Memorial contributions may be made to St. Stanislaus Catholic Church at P.O. Box 757, Bandera, Texas, 78003.