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 Updated: 2/1/2011     

Prominent families in North Texas have been the cornerstone for the power and progress from Dallas to Dubai. Their real lives became the mythology of Giant, to Dallas, to the Dallas Cowboys.

Behind each powerful person there is a great story. Here is a small glimpse into the stories behind the powerful who made Texas, and put DFW on the map and in our memories.
Bass Carter Crow Hunt

The Bass Family of Fort Worth

The Bass Family traces its fame and fortune to one of the most consummate of Texas oil wildcatters, Sid Richardson. Mr. Richardson grew up in Athens, Texas along side good friend and fellow future oil baron, Clint Murchison, Sr.

Sid Richardson’s sister, Anne Richardson, married the prominent Fort Worth doctor, E. Perry Richardson. Perry Richardson Bass, their son, became Mr. Richardson’s chief associate and his investing skills turned Mr. Richard’s oil fortune into a much larger one.

Perry Bass, who died in 2006 at age 91, married Nancy Lee Muse, and together they had four sons, Sid, Robert, Edward, and Lee, who form the core of the leadership in Fort Worth. The father and all four sons graduated from Yale University and remain among its largest philanthropists.

Sid Richardson has managed the family fortune through Bass Brothers Enterprises. Robert Bass has branched off on his own with the Robert M. Bass Group, later Keystone Inc., and recently, Aerion Corp.

Ed Bass is a businessman, philanthropist, and environmentalist, who conceived the Biosphere 2 project, an artificial closed ecological system in Arizona. He is the chairman of Fine Line Diversified Development, an investment firm.

Lee Bass, a well know outdoorsman, owns Lee M. Bass, Inc., an energy company. He has been active in the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the revitalization of the renowned Fort Worth Zoo.

The Bass family developed Sundance Square, a downtown Fort Worth re-development project, which includes commercial and residential space. They led the development of the Bass Performance Hall, which opened in 1998.

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The Hunt Family of Dallas

Together with Sid Richardson, Clint Murchison Sr., and Houston’s Hugh Cullen, Haroldson Lafayette Hunt (better known as H.L.), made Texas what it is today through their discoveries of oil throughout the state.

H.L. Hunt was considered the richest man in America for a great deal of the 20th century. H.L. and his 1st wife, Lyda, had six children: H.L. ‘Hassie’ Hunt Jr., Margaret Hunt Hill, a Dallas philanthropist; Caroline Rose Hunt, founder of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts; Nelson Bunker Hunt and William Herbert Hunt, who earned worldwide notice for trying to corner the silver market; and Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Mr. Hunt later married Ruth Ray, a secretary in his office. They had four children: Ray, June, Helen, and Swanee. While the three sisters are all successful philanthropists, Ray Hunt inherited Hunt Oil and expanded it into real estate developments including ReUnion Tower and the Hyatt Hotel in downtown Dallas.

Today the Dallas social and business landscape includes dozens of third generation Hunt descendants with names like Hill, Washburne, Sands, Summers, Wikert, and Wisenbacker.

It is interesting to note that while he officed a short time in downtown Dallas, H.L. Hunt was customarily seen bringing a sack lunch with him most days. Thinking that he was such a miser that he would refuse to spend money in the local restaurants, it was surprising to those who didn't know him, that the reason was not because of money, but a strict diet on which his doctor prescribed - food which wasn't available at any restaurant in downtown Dallas at that time.

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The Amon Carter Family of Fort Worth

Amon G. Carter Sr. was born Giles Amon Carter, but changed his name as an adult to Amon G. Carter. He was a skilled salesman who moved to Ft. Worth when hired by one of the local newspapers. In 1908, his paper purchased the rival Fort Worth Star Telegram, and Carter became its editor and publisher. The company signed on WBAP, the first radio station in Fort Worth, and WBAP-TV (now KXAS-TV), the state’s first television station.

He convinced Southern Air Transport, known now as American Airlines, to move to Fort Worth from Dallas.  Most will agree that it was his undying contempt for Dallas. It was said, Carter would take a sack lunch whenever he traveled to Dallas so he wouldn't have to spend any money there.

He married three times; first to Zetta Thomas Carter, with whom he had a daughter (Bertice Carter), then to Nenetta Burton Carter, with whom he had a son (Amon Gary Carter, Jr.) and a second daughter (Ruth Carter), and eight years before he died, he remarried a third time to Minnie Meacham Carter, the daughter of Henry Clay Meacham, a prominent department store owner and former Mayor of Ft. Worth.

Amon established the Amon G. Carter Foundation in 1945. He died in 1955, of heart failure and his will stipulated that a museum to house his collection be established by the foundation, leaving the details to his daughter Ruth Carter Stevenson (b. 1923-) and son Amon Carter Jr. (1919–1982).

Amon’s renown collection of paintings and sculptures by Frederic Remington and Charles Russell is on display at the world renowned Amon Carter Museum, in Fort Worth.

Amon Gary Carter Jr. continued to lead the newspaper, radio, and television empire. Carter Jr. served time in a WWII prison camp and befriended a YMCA volunteer. In later years, the Carter family championed the Fort Worth YMCA and the Amon G. Carter, Jr. Downtown YMCA building was named for him after his death.

Ruth Carter Stevenson has led the development of the Amon Carter Museum including asking acclaimed architect Philip Johnson to design it. She remains on the board of the Carter Foundation.

For more information about Amon Carter, Minnie Meacham Carter, and Henry Clay Meacham, research the Carter-Meacham Family Papers, housed at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), and Texas Christian University's (TCU) main campus.

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The Trammell Crow Family of Dallas

F. Trammell Crow (1914-2009) was a Dallas based real estate developer who created several projects, including the Dallas Market Center, San Francisco's Embarcadero Center, and Atlanta’s Peachtree Center . His father, Jefferson Crow, worked for Collett Munger – one of Dallas' early real estate developers.

He married his wife Margaret Doggett Crow in 1942 while stationed with the Navy in Orange, Texas, and they remained married for 66 years. They had six children: Lucy Billingsley, Harlan Crow, Howard Crow, Stuart Crow, and Trammell S. Crow.

Crow developed his first building in 1948. He pioneered ‘building on spec’. His also worked with another pioneer Dallas developer, John Stemmons in pioneering construction along the Trinity River and the Stemmons Freeway, now Interstate 35E.

By the 1970’s he was described as one the nations biggest commercial real estate developers with ownership in hundreds of million of square feet of space nationwide. His 50 story plus skyscrapers and 5 star hotels tower over cities across the U.S.

Trammell and his wife had a life-long love of Asian art, culminating in the Trammell & Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art Center in the heart of the new Dallas Arts District.

His children have carried on his legacy becoming powerful real estate developers in their own right as well as community philanthropists.

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More Families to Come


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