Five stories that have North Texas talking: Gov. Greg Abbott honors Chris Kyle; UT has a big endowment; an update on the fight over Lee Harvey Oswald’s original casket; and more.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is declaring Monday as "Chris Kyle Day" in Texas to honor the late U.S. serviceman whose life is depicted in the blockbuster film "American Sniper." Kyle's hometown was Midlothian. He was 37 when he was killed in 2013 at a North Texas gun range. A former Marine charged in his death soon goes on trial in Stephenville. Kyle did four tours in Iraq and is considered to be the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history. Actor Bradley Cooper plays him in a movie based on Kyle's autobiography, "American Sniper," which has made nearly $250 million in theaters. Abbott made the announcement while speaking to a Texas Veterans of Foreign Wars Convention in Austin. Hundreds of veterans in a hotel ballroom greeted the news with a standing ovation. Flags statewide were to fly at half-mast. Abbott called Kyle "the face of a legion of warriors who have led the mightiest military in the history of the world." In 2012, Kyle talked with KERA’s Krys Boyd on Think – listen to that conversation here. [Associated Press]
- The artistic director of Jubilee Theatre was arrested Friday. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports: “Police were investigating complaints that a man offered three boys in southeast Fort Worth money for sex. Declois Garrett Beacham, who goes professionally by the name Tre Garrett, surrendered at the Tarrant County Jail. … Beacham faces two charges of compelling prostitution with a child under 18. His attorney, Patrick Curran, said Beacham maintains his innocence. Beacham told police that he was a member of the board of the Young Men’s Leadership Academy, an all-boys school in the Fort Worth school district.” The Jubilee’s managing director said Beacham “is a very talented individual and has done excellent work at Jubilee and other theaters in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.” Update: The Jubilee Theatre says its board of trustees executive committee has placed Tre Garrett on paid administrative leave.
- A judge says the original casket in which Lee Harvey Oswald was buried belongs to Oswald's brother, not the funeral home that auctioned it off for more than $87,000. Oswald's brother, Robert, had sued Baumgardner Funeral Home after it sold the pine coffin for $87,468 in 2010. A Tarrant County judge has ordered the funeral home to pay the same amount of money in damages to Robert Oswald, saying its conduct was "malicious and wanton." [Associated Press]
- The University of Texas has a big endowment. How big? Bloomberg reports: “The University of Texas endowment surpassed Yale University’s as the second-wealthiest in U.S. higher education, according to an annual survey released Thursday by Commonfund and the National Association of College and University Business Officers. The value of the Texas System’s fund grew 24 percent to $25.4 billion in the year ended June 30, the biggest after Harvard University’s $35.9 billion. Yale’s endowment, which had ranked second since at least 2002, increased 15 percent to $23.9 billion.
- Merritt Tierce worked in a Dallas steakhouse as a single mom. That experience helped fuel her debut novel, Love Me Back. The book is generating lots of buzz – and Tierce recently appeared on Aspen Public Radio’s “First Draft” to talk about the book and the character Marie, who lives in a world of sex and drugs. KERA’s Anne Bothwell talked with Tierce last fall – listen to that conversation at Art&Seek.