Franks recalls his mother helping get his act together
By Kyle Mooty
Growing up in St. John’s Colony, Chauncey Franks said he was surrounded by church values, including his mother, who he said was a “Godly woman.”
However, Franks said while addressing the Greater Caldwell County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s 34th annual Gala Saturday night at the Lockhart Lions Club, there was a time when he saw a different side of his mother.
His first semester at Midwestern State in Wichita Falls coincided with the release of the video game Bill Walsh College Football.
“Needless to say, I became an expert playing Bill Walsh College Football, and needless to say that my grades reflected how much time I spent playing Bill Walsh College Football,” said Franks, now the Texas Christian University Football Chaplain. “Back then, they’d mail your grades home. I tried to intercept it, but my mom saw my grades and lo and behold I made a 1.5 (grade point average) my first semester in college. My mother is a very Godly woman, but in that moment the spirit of God left her. The things that she said to me about my academic status at that point and time were far from God. She put the fear of God in me. I knew going back in the spring that I had to get my act together.”
Getting it together was just what Franks did, eventually earning his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Midwestern State. He also got married while there, and eventually moved to Dallas where he was a youth pastor and worked as a chaplain for the SMU football team. Then-head coach June Jones came in and brought his own chaplain, which eventually led Franks to where he is now at TCU.
A Lockhart High School graduate – Class of 1993 – said he is especially looking for to this year’s reunion at the Chisholm Trail Roundup. In fact, Franks said the last time he had been at the Lions Club building was at his LHS football banquet 30 years earlier.
Franks, twice named a member of the Fort Worth 400 – Fort Worth Inc.’s Most Influential People – reflected on his days growing up as a Lockhart Lion.
“I remember in the summertime we would go pick peas, and corn, and melons,” Franks said. “I remember one summer I made $500. I was able to buy my school clothes for the year. I remember going to the junior high that I thought was the Alamo. I remember going to the Chisholm Trail Roundup. I remember coming home from school and playing Tecmo Bowl, Mario Brothers and Mike Tyson Knockout. I remember the Cosby Show, and Martin Lawrence, Cheers, The Wonder Years, Beverly Hills 90210, Married with Children, Saved by the Bell, In Living Color, Fresh Prince of Bel Air. With music you had New Edition, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, Beastie Boys, House of Pain, M.C. Hammer, Garth Brooks, Tupac and Biggie.
“I can remember when they announced us as the graduating class and tears began to roll down my face. That was generation and generation of friendships. We are still lifelong classmates. Needless to say this place is special to me. Anything I’ve been able to accomplish in life has been because of this city.”
Franks was the Keynote Speaker at the Gala.
Jonathan Gonzales, entering his second year as Chairman of the GCCHCC, said he and others needed to hit the restart button and instead of relying on a quick phone call to some to give people a “good ol’ handshake.”
“As I walk through this county, I need to make every movement count,” Gonzales said. “Although I’m not originally from Lockhart, it’s near and dear to me. I’m excited to see its continuous growth.”
Lockhart Mayor Lew White gave an abbreviated State of the City address.
“I had a nice visit with Chauncey Franks,” White said. “He mentioned how much Lockhart has changed every time he comes back to visit. And change it has. Growth is upon us. We have been advised that we are on developers’ radars throughout the state. At the new industrial park just off SH 130 on FM2720, we sold about 75 acres within two years. We have been hard at work with developers to address the housing shortage. That’s something we need to continue to work on.”
Dr. Stephanie Camarillo of Lockhart ISD noted that the district has 6,517 students and that they had projected 2.5 percent growth and were experiencing 5 percent growth for this school year.
“Our demographer predicts over the next decade we will be over 10,000 students,” Camarillo said.
Camarillo also said LISD had improved from a 71 to 81 Academic Rating.
Gabrielle Westbrook with Workforce Solutions Rural Capital Area also addressed the audience.
“Our goal is to develop talent for employers by Coaching Texans to Employment,” Westbrook said.
The Fermin T. Islas Service Award went to Former Justice of the Peace Raymond De Leon, an award presented by his aunt, Justice of the peace Anita De Leon.
Raymond De Leon was the youngest sitting judge in Texas when first elected at the age of 24 in 2003.
“When she (Anita De Leon) put me in timeout as a kid, never did she think that one day she’d be presenting me with this award,” Raymond De Leon said. He would also swear his aunt into office.
Lockhart Mayor Pro Tem Angie Gonzales-Sanchez was the recipient of the Orgullo Award, an honor given to an individual who provides unwavering support and encouragement for members of the community.
Gonzales-Sanchez was presented the award by Fermin Islas.
A graduate of Lockhart High School – Class of 1984 – Gonzales-Sanchez became the first Hispanic female on the Lockhart City Council when elected in 2010.
Gonzales-Sanchez said she remembered telling her mother that when she grew up she would not volunteer for anything. Today, she is one of the most common volunteers in Lockhart.
The Businesswoman of the Year went to Smitty’s Market owner Nina Sells.
Award presenter Mallory Debold said she had always respected Sells as a businesswoman in a male-dominated industry.
Sells began her career working at the Caldwell County Tax Office in 1982. She became County Clerk for six consecutive years.
“During that time she opened her own and quite successful barbecue restaurant,” Debold said. “In 1999, the doors to Smitty’s Market were opened in the same building where her father built his business. In 2010, she retired as Caldwell County Clerk.”
Debold said Sells survived the pandemic struggles by adding takeout at Smitty’s Market.
Sells lost two of the loves her life, Debold said, within a four-month span last year in her husband of 36 years, Jim Sells, and a son, John.
“Both men were well-respected and instrumental in the daily operations of her business,” Debold said. “Nina is definitely one of the strongest women I know. Some may call her the Queen of Barbecue. She’s been successfully running her business for 24 years now.”
Sells said it had been an honor to serve as County Clerk and in the private sector. She added that she “loves Caldwell County and Lockhart.”
Rob Ortiz of Big As Texas Sounds was named the Businessman of the Year. He was unable to attend, but the award was presented by his mother, Mary Helen Ortiz.
“My son goes by many names and wears many hats in our community,” Mary Helen Ortiz said. “He has spent hours of community service that were not mandated by courts.”
The Business of the Year went to Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative and was accepted by Jo Anna Gilland. Presenter Jewel Jankas noted that Bluebonnet was founded in 1939 and was among Texas oldest electric cooperatives. Jankas said the business also provides scholarships, sponsorships and more.
Gilland said Bluebonnet’s values of community, respect, reliability, safety, courage, and love are items it still lives by.
A Special Appreciation Award was given to F Fermin T. Islas, who is stepping down after being on the original board as a founding member.
Gonzales said Islas attends every event and makes sure everything is in order.
This year’s GCCHCC Board is:
Chairman – Jonathan Gonzales
Past Chair – Rob Ortiz
Secretary – Jewel Jankas
Treasurer – Audrey Torres
Director at Large – Alfonso Sifuentes
Director – Ernesto Barrientos
Director – Isaiah Zapata
Director – Raquel Barron
Director – Jackie Zapien