Tex Moncrief made a speech Thursday, in a deep, rumbling voice that even sounds like a gusher strike in a Texas oil field.
At 97, the Fort Worth philanthropist is a legendary oil wildcatter walking among us to this day. When he was 10, he saw his father, Monty, strike a gusher near Longview, turning Great Depression despair into a billion-dollar fortune that shaped the Lone Star State.
In recent years, Moncrief has become known less as a son of the rough Texas oilpatch and more for generosity and a heart for healthcare and education in Fort Worth.
In Fort Worth alone, Moncrief has donated $100 million toward UT Southwestern Medical Center, first at the Moncrief Cancer Institute and now at the new Monty and Tex Moncrief Medical Center to open Monday.
On a strip of South Main Street where cowboys once drove cattle north toward the Chisholm Trail, Dallas-based UT Southwestern will bring 30 specialists to offer care for Fort Worth and Tarrant County patients.
Or, as Moncrief described it: “There’re going to be a lot of very fine doctors brought in. … With the very fine doctors we already have, we’re going to have doctors running out of our ears.”
Moncrief talked about the donation, and how the medical center came to be named for both Moncriefs: “I asked Dr. [UT Southwestern President Daniel] Podolsky what I had to do to maybe name this facility after my dad, and he said — well, surprise, surprise — it’d take a little money.
“So I said, well, OK, I’ll fall for that. And not just a little money.”
Moncrief said it was his son Dickie’s idea to name the center for both father and son. Tex Moncrief used one of his favorite lines, saying they were “like two peas in a pod.”
But Podolsky, a Harvard-trained gastroenterologist, joked that his primary role was persuading Tex — “the immovable object” — to let the university add his name.
UT Southwestern also has a Monty & Tex Moncrief Radiation Oncology Building in Dallas. The football field at Texas Christian University, Moncrief’s other passion besides the University of Texas, is Monty & Tex Moncrief Field.
Moncrief also announced the building lobby will be named for his son, Charlie, who is undergoing cancer treatment.
And he told a joke:
“I was thinking about what one casket said to the other casket.
“He said, ‘Is that you ‘coffin’?’ ”
The crowd groaned.
But then Moncrief added this advice: “Pick yourself out a good doctor or two or three, keep yourself in pretty good health, and that old coffin won’t be coming around for you.”
It’s worked for Tex for 97 years.