Tag Archives: Boys Ranch

Boys Ranch story still causing pain

Now it’s Bill Sarpalius coming forward to tell us about his experiences at Boys Ranch.

The former Democratic U.S. representative grew up at the ranch. He tells the world that older students sexually abused him. And, yes, he was disciplined severely by staff members.

Other men have come forward to tell about actual abuse heaped on them by students and by staff members. They spoke to The Guardian newspaper and local media have picked up the story.

Let’s just say the “Me Too” movement has come to the Texas Panhandle.

I’m now believing that Boys Ranch officials need to provide explicit and clearly stated measures on how they are preventing this kind of behavior on the campus about 30 miles northwest of Amarillo.

To his credit, Boys Ranch CEO and president Dan Adams has issued a highly public apology and has acknowledged that what the men have alleged did occur — years ago! He said the ranch has taken measures to assure they don’t happen now. I happen to believe Adams’s assurances.

That might not be enough to satisfy everyone with a keen interest in this iconic institution, founded in 1939 by one of the Panhandle’s legendary figures, Cal Farley.

Sarpalius tells riveting story

I don’t know Sarpalius. He left office the week of my arrival in early 1995 to become editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News. But he tells a remarkable tale of abuse at the ranch. Yet he continues to express support for the longtime superintendent, Lamar Waldrip, who was identified in The Guardian article as one of the main culprits in the stories of abuse.

Still, the ranch’s reputation has been soiled. The folks who run the place now would do well to come squeaky clean with detailed assurances on how they are preventing this kind of activity from recurring.

I believe the great Cal Farley would want that, too.

Boys Ranch faces possible building-name quandary

Lamont Waldrip’s name is now identified with a new dormitory at Boys Ranch.

The long-time superintendent of Boys Ranch, though, has been named by some men as one of culprits in a long-hidden matter involving abuse of boys who were living at the ranch.

According to an article in The Guardian, a British-based publication, a wealthy donor gave $1 million to Boys Ranch with the stipulation that it name the building after Waldrip.

I believe it would be wise of the Boys Ranch governing board to think long and hard about whether the late superintendent — who died in 2013 — should be memorialized.

The current president and CEO of Boys Ranch, Dan Adams, says that other boys had different experiences with Waldrip and that they “liked and admired him.” That might be true. I am in no position to dispute or affirm what Adams has said.

Here, though, is the problem. Adams has apologized publicly for what happened to the men when they were boys. He, in effect, has acknowledged the veracity of their contentions.

Do the folks at Boys Ranch really want to honor the memory of someone whose name has been tarred in this fashion?

Read the Guardian article here.

I’ve already stipulated that the reports of abuse shouldn’t detract from the good work that has been done at Boys Ranch since its founding in 1939. Indeed, Adams has provided seemingly ironclad assurances that none of what has been alleged is going on there.

However, the institution — and one of its long-standing pillars — have been stained, perhaps indelibly, by what has been reported.

Lamont Waldrip’s name shouldn’t be engraved on a permanent structure at Boys Ranch.


Et tu, Boys Ranch?

One would be hard-pressed to find a Texas Panhandle institution with more renown and universal respect than Boys Ranch, the school founded in the late 1930s to care for boys in trouble.

The late Cal Farley served in World War I and came home to found the school that offered boys “… a shirt-tail to hang on to.” 

It has graduated young men and women who have gone on to do great things. They have served in elected office and have become pillars of communities across the nation and around the world.

But now comes word from some former students about allegations of abuse they suffered while living at the Ranch. This is heartbreaking in the extreme.

I have good friends with lengthy ties to the Ranch. I am not going to discuss in detail what has been alleged by these former students/residents who have come forward four decades after the incidents reportedly occurred.

Instead, I intend to stand up for the great work that has been done at Boys Ranch in the decades since Cal Farley founded the legendary organization.

What’s more, I want to applaud current president and chief executive officer Dan Adams for “manning up” with a public apology to those who have spoken out. They did so to The Guardian newspaper, which published an article today spelling out the allegations.

Adams issued a statement that said, in part: “Thousands of people have found hope and healing at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch, both past and present. Tragically, not everyone who participated in our programs through the years was helped by them. No words by me or anyone else will change that.”

See the rest of Adams’s statement here.

The men who spoke to The Guardian say all they want is an apology. They have gotten it.

Is this the end of it? I don’t know. I pray that it is.

Here is the Guardian article.

Oh … my goodness.

Israel journey was a life-changer

Most of us have life experiences that stick with us, well, forever.

I’ve had the usual experiences: marriage to a wonderful girl, producing two wonderful sons who’ve grown into fine men, wearing my country’s uniform during a time of war, embarking on a rewarding career that has taken me to places I never imagined seeing.

Another one stands out. It’s a rare event that occurred five years ago this week. It was when four young people and I boarded an airplane for Israel. We were part of an extraordinary adventure. We spent four weeks in the Holy Land, touring one of the world’s most interesting countries from top to bottom. We lived with families and became, at one level, part of their families — if only briefly. We weren’t tourists. Thus, we saw more of a fascinating place than most people ever get to see.


I am a member of the Rotary Club of Amarillo. Our Rotary district had set up an exchange with another Rotary district in Israel. Our district needed a Rotary member to lead a team of four non-Rotarians on this exchange. I was one of several Rotarians who interviewed for the team leader spot. The interview took place in the fall of 2008 and the committee assigned to consider the applicants chose yours truly to lead the team.

I was stunned.

Then we got to work picking a team. They would comprise four individuals ages 25 to 40. We found four outstanding young professionals who had their employers’ blessing to take four weeks off to learn from their peers in Israel.

The program is called Group Study Exchange and its aim is manyfold: It’s meant to build relationships among nations in a people-to-people way; it exposes professionals to like-minded folks in other countries; and it helps build interest in Rotary, encouraging team members to join Rotary and become active in their own communities.

Three young women and a young man formed the team and together we began to prepare for this journey. They are Katt Krause of Amarillo, who was office manager for her family landscape contractor business; Aida Almaraz Nino of Hereford, who was a social worker at Boys Ranch; Fernando Valle of Lubbock teaches post-graduate courses for school administrators at Texas Tech University; and Shirley Davis of Levelland, teaches math at South Plains College.

We prepped for several weeks, meeting mostly in Lubbock. We learned about Israelis culture. We talked about the do’s and don’ts of embarking on a journey such as this. We prepared our presentation that we would deliver to host Rotary clubs.

At one point during our preparation, violence broke out in Gaza; Israel responded with a heavy counterattack against terrorists who were throwing missiles and mortars at cities in southern Israel. There was a serious thought that the trip might be canceled because of security concerns. The Israelis, as they usually do, put down the violence. The trip was on.

Then the day came to depart. It was May 9, 2009. Our flight was long and grueling, but we landed at David Ben-Gurion International Airport and were greeted by our Rotary hosts and by another GSE team, from The Netherlands, with whom we would travel for the next four weeks.

Our adventure exposed us to so many treasures. We were shown Christian, Jewish and Muslim holy sites. We went deep into the Judean Desert. We walked among the ruins of Masada. We swam in the Dead Sea. We went to Nazareth. We swam in the Mediterranean Sea. We looked out over the Red Sea at Eilat. We saw antiquities all along the way.

Our journey ended with a Rotary district meeting in Jerusalem, the holiest of the holy cities in Israel. We received a spontaneous prayer from an American monk on the Mount of Olives. We walked through the Old City. We saw the Holocaust museum at Yad Vashem.

Our hearts were broken and filled with joy all at the same time.

The families that greeted us, housed us, entertained us and showed us their country became our friends.


The most rewarding part of the trip arguably is the friendships I forged with the young people with whom I was given the honor to accompany on this magnificent experience.

I pretty much think about different parts of our trip daily. Random parts that have to do with my day. Dead Sea, Masada, advice and conversations with hosts I had, inside jokes, beautiful sites. I gained so much from our adventure. It helped me grow and learn a lot about who I am. I love Rotary and what it gave to me. It’s an amazing organization, and on our trip we truly witnessed the 4-Way Test.
I will be forever grateful to Rotary International for what it gave to me.
— Katt Krause.

We laughed at each other’s jokes and found ways to lighten the mood whenever we could.

The Dead Sea trip, basking in the sun and salt water while feeling the burn sensation of the exfoliation, peeling layers of skin and any scabs I may have had. Also, the total body mud masks that everyone participated in that temporarily changed our identities to that of an aboriginal warrior. — Shirley Davis.

It moved us beyond measure in ways that occasionally sneaked up on us.

Living and seeing life through the Israelis’ eyes was an experience that will, for sure, never be forgotten. One of the best moments, for me, was during our last days in Jerusalem. Walking where Jesus walked. We had traveled Israel for almost a month without seeing a drop of rain, and the moment when the monk prayed with us and for that short moment … it sprinkled! Rain over us! That was absolutely amazing! Loving the people and being loved by them, also, was an experience that’s sometimes hard to explain. I will always feel a special bond with the family I traveled with and the family I made while in Israel. — Aida Nino.

We built relationships that we all believe will last a lifetime.

Even though five years have passed, the emotional connections made with Rotarians and their families in Israel are as vivid as the country. We experienced more than hospitality, as a GSE team we were afforded rich cultural experiences and real daily life of the country. I will never forget walking through Jerusalem, shedding tears next to a family at Yad Vashem, eating with a host family or spending the day with the GSE team in the Red Sea off the coast of Eilat. Be’er Sheva welcomed us with open arms and Haifa and Tel Aviv showed us where Israel has been and where it is headed. GSE and Rotary afforded me an opportunity to understand and appreciate people across the world, especially the warmth of humanity. I am forever grateful for the experience. I went on a trip to Israel with a newly formed GSE team and came back with more than friends. I came back with a family. — Fernando Valle.

I have maintained contact with a couple of the Dutch GSE team members in the years since that amazing journey. Although we don’t see each other as much as I would like — and I assume the others as well — I consider all four of my fellow West Texans among my very best friends in this world.

We shared an experience few folks can understand fully. Perhaps other GSE teams that ventured to other far-off lands understand how it is.

This one was for the books. I am grateful beyond measure for the experience it provided to me and for the friendships it has built.

What a journey it was.