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Don Essary Dies

Former AQHA director of racing dies.

October 9, 2012

Don Essary

Don Essary

Don Essary, 73, of Amarillo died October 8.

Don was born to Ruel and Thelma Essary in Tishomingo, Oklahoma, on September 16, 1939. He grew up in White Deer, Texas, and graduated from White Deer High School. While in high school, he played basketball and was the quarterback and captain of the football team.

Before attending college, Don traveled to Hollywood, California, and New York City to pursue an acting career. One of his fondest memories was acting with John Wayne in the movie How The West Was Won.

Don attended the University of Texas in Austin and graduated from West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M) in Canyon, Texas. He was honored to be on the dean’s list.

Don began his career in the horse racing industry in 1968, when he became the director of racing for AQHA, a post he held for 12 years. During his career, he was a racetrack owner and operator and a racing industry consultant, even providing expert testimony before Congress, in Austin.

He was one of the founders of the University of Arizona Racing Industry Program and served on their advisory committee. He has also served as the chairman of the Quarter Horse Racing Council and served as a member of the board of trustees of the Texas Horse Racing Association. He served on the board of directors of AQHA and TQHA.

Don was a member of AQHA, the Texas Horse Racing Association, Texas Thoroughbred Breeders Association, Texas Quarter Horse Association, Los Rancheros Visitadores, East Texas Quarter Horse Association and the Texas Wildlife Association.

He was also the author of four books and numerous articles regarding Quarter Horses. He retired in 2007.

On December 2, 1985, he married the love of his life, Faye. In his spare time he enjoyed playing golf and tennis, talking politics and sports. Don was an incredibly loving and caring husband, father and grandfather. He has been a member of Saint Stephen United Methodist Church since 1973.

His family wishes to express sincere gratitude to Dr. James D. Hale, Traci Bigham, Dr. Douglas E. Lewis and staff. A special thanks to IntegraCare Hospice and the staff at The Cottages at Quail Creek Alzheimer’s Care for their love and compassion shown to “Poppa” for the past 21 months.

Don was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Carroll “Sonny” Essary.

Survivors include his wife, Faye; daughter, Jackie Campos and husband Roland of Amarillo; son, Shane Essary and wife Amber of Spring; daughter, Natalie Essary of Austin; and grandchildren Haley, Braden, Logan and Kennady.

Visitation will be on Tuesday, October 9, 2012, from 6 to 8 p.m. Services will be at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, October 10, 2012, at Saint Stephen United Methodist Church with Dr. Jim Smith officiating. Burial will follow at Llano Cemetery in Amarillo.