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Less-Known Texans We Lost – 2014

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The year 2014 brought several losses to the Great State of Texas. Some were newsworthy for political reasons, some for cultural reasons, and others because of their great contributions to the business world. According to Texas Monthly, the state lost a number of people who were quite influential, and made the national news. There were, however, several losses which may not have rang out as loudly, but whose lives made a huge impact on the state. Here are a few of their stories.

Willard Mercier – December 10, 1931-July 17, 2014

Willard Mercier was an old-school Texan who lived to be 82 years old, and never stopped working. His career began as a beer delivery man when he was just nineteen years old. He soon became known as “Mr. Lone Star,” for the images of him smiling in a khaki uniform while delivering Lone Star Beer. These images were plastered on billboards all over San Antonio, Texas over half a century ago. Mr. Mercier was still selling Lone Star Beer when he died in July.

Mercier began his career as a driver’s assistant, which meant that he had to do all of the lifting and carrying while the driver filled out paperwork and spoke with store owners. Despite the fact that getting his own route would have made him more money, Mercier decided to remain an assistant until he was noticed by the brewery president. Harry Jersig saw potential in Mercier’s outgoing personality and handpicked him to move to sales. Mercier soon expanded sales in his territory by over 50%. Of course it did not take long for the company to expand his territory. In 1971, Mercier moved to Houston, where he became the distributing manager.

Despite all of the changes which he saw in the business world, Mercier’s drive, determination, and success continued throughout his life. He attempted to retire in 1996. It was the only thing he is ever known to have tried and failed. He set up a consulting firm in 2007, and Lone Star was his only client. As explained by Texas Monthly, “’Just a couple months before Willard died, we had a meeting with our tech people,” recalls Mike Diezi, one of Mercier’s last protégés. “The IT guy was showing us how to tether our phones to our computers so we could work email on them. Willard was having a hard time with that because he didn’t use an iPhone. The IT guy said, ‘How can you sell beer without an iPhone?’ And Willard said, ‘Son, I’ve been in the beer business a long time, and I never saw a computer sell one case of beer.’”

Betty King – November 27,1925-December 1, 2014

Betty King started her political career in 1947 as a clerk in the White House Appropriations Committee. According to a family obituary, King held the job of secretary of the Texas Senate from 1977 until she retired in 2001. Many say that the secretary of the Texas Senate is the person who keeps the Senate running, both in session and out of session, and King was said to have done so in an intelligent and discreet way. The committee room behind the Senate chamber was named for her when she retired, and she was given a public service award. According to the Texas Tribune, a few well-known politicians had nothing but good to say about Betty King:

“’Of all the people I have been privileged to work with, Betty King stands out above almost all as a selfless servant,” said Gov. Rick Perry, who served as lieutenant governor before taking his current position. “She displayed a sweetness of heart few possess and an uncanny ability to manage a chamber full of mighty egos and make each feel they were the most important in the midst. Anita and I were blessed to count her as friend and confidant.’”
“’From Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, “On behalf of the Texas Senate, I want to extend our deepest condolences to the family of former Secretary of the Senate Betty King and let them know our prayers are with them. Betty King served as Secretary of the Texas Senate for twenty-four years under four Lieutenant Governors and ninety-seven senators. Her dedication, tireless work ethic, and friendship are just a few of the reasons the Lieutenant Governor’s Committee Room was renamed in her honor. She will be greatly missed by her former colleagues and many friends.’”

Ian Patrick McLagan – May 12,1945-December 3, 2014

Ian McLagan, or “Mac” as he liked to be called, passed away in December from complications after having a massive stroke. As Rolling Stone shared, the once “jovial, charismatic keyboardist for the Faces and Small Faces whose versatile, forceful playing defined rock & roll classics like the Faces’ “Stay With Me,” was gone. Doctors say that his cognitive functions were gone in a matter of minutes and that he felt no pain. Just that quickly, his rock and roll genius was gone.

A statement released by Mac’s spokesperson was posted in Rolling Stone which read, “It is with great sadness and eternal admiration that we report the passing of rock and roll icon Ian McLagan. He died today surrounded by family and friends in his adopted hometown of Austin, Texas due to complications from a stroke suffered the previous day. Ian’s artistry, generosity and warmth of spirit touched countless other musicians and music fans around the world.  His loss will be felt by so many.”

Aside from Small Faces and Faces, Mac also collaborated with the Rolling Stones and had his own band during the late 1970s. He was born May 12, 1945 in Hounslow, Middlesex, England, and passed away on December 3, 2014 in Austin Texas where he had settled. For all of his success, his life was also filled with tragedy. He was married to Sandy Serjeant from 1968 to 1972. Sandy was a dancer on the television show, “Ready, Set, Go!” The couple had a son, Lee. Mac then began a relationship with Kim Kerrigan, who left ‘The Who’ drummer Keith Moon in order to be with Mac. They were married in 1978, a month after Keith Moon’s death. In August of 2006, Kerrigan died in a car accident near their home in Austin.


Texas Monthly

Houston Chronicle

Texas Tribune

Rolling Stone


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