2022 CCM Historical Hero: O.R Stark Jr.
SAT, MAY 28, 2022
Written by Jana Carpenter
O.R. Stark Jr. (Photo Credit: Sherry Stark Braden)
O. R. Stark, Jr. was a visionary man. He had a lifetime love affair with the beautiful canyons and prairies of the Quitaque area and wanted to find a way to share it with others. When he discovered that Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) was looking for new state park land in the Panhandle, he began working to draw their attention to Quitaque. Eventually, his hard work paid off when TPWD purchased the Theo Geisler ranch to make up most of what is now Caprock Canyons State Park.
O. R. Stark, Jr. was also instrumental in the Rails-to-Trails conversion of 64 miles of railroad into what is now Caprock Canyons Trailway. Over the years he had ridden the train many times up the Caprock through the tunnels and knew what spectacular views the Trailway had to offer.
When he learned that the JA Ranch was donating the historic Charles Goodnight bison herd to TPWD, he became a driving force for the local lobbying effort to make Caprock Canyons State Park the new home for the bison herd. His efforts once again became reality when the first bison were brought to the park in 1997.
O. R. understood the need for a friends group for Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway. He led Quitaque citizens in forming Caprock Partners Foundation in 1996. He served as president until his death in 2000.
Roots run deep for the Stark family in Quitaque dating back to 1919 when O. R.’s dad, Orlin Stark, first came to Quitaque and was involved in the formation of the First National Bank in 1920.
O. R. Stark, Jr. was born May 4, 1927 to Orlin and Madeline (Whiteley) Stark in Quitaque, Texas. He was the eldest of two children having a younger sister, Patsy Stark Herrington. He started school in Quitaque Elementary and continued his education through the Quitaque schools to graduate in 1944. He attended Texas Tech University for one year and volunteered for the Navy, where he served two years during World War II. After his discharge he entered Texas Tech again, where he majored in Finance and graduated in 1949. He married Mary Hartgraves of Sweetwater, Texas August 21, 1949.
O. R. and Mary began their married life in Quitaque where O. R. went to work at First National Bank as assistant cashier. Over the years they raised their three children, Sherry, Scotty and Randy Stark in Quitaque. O.R. served as president of First National Bank for over thirty years and Chairman of the Board from 1983 until his passing on January 24, 2000.
O. R. was very active in church and civic activities on both the state and local levels and was always a booster of anything positive in the Quitaque area. He published Comings, Goings & Doings an informative monthly bank newsletter for customers and other interested readers for over 47 years, and in 1995 it was named “ the longest continuously published monthly newsletter in the history of the banking industry in the United States”.
O. R. Stark, Jr.’s leadership, foresight, positive outlook, boundless energy, and persistence is permanently etched on the Quitaque area and Caprock Canyons State Park and Trailway.