Texas philanthropist Wallrath to sell Champion Ranch to benefit charities


In 2012, when Richard Wallrath was terribly ill, his children made a move to take over his prized Champion Ranch. Whatever their intentions were, it was a bad move.

The legendary Texas entrepreneur and prolific philanthropist recovered, regained his strength and then, in court, won complete ownership and control of the ranch. Then he disinherited his children.

Now that ranch is up for sale and the majority of the proceeds will ultimately benefit 4-H and FFA charities — organizations dear to his rural values and no strangers to Wallrath. Already he has donated millions to both.

Wallrath, 88, made his fortune turning a Houston business — Champion Windows — into a national brand. To get there, he had to make a different sort of recovery.

In an address to 2013 graduates published by FoxNews.com, Wallrath said he was raised in a “tough home” in Central Texas with an alcoholic father.

“I grew up just like him, and my own alcoholism and violent temper cost me everything,” he wrote. “Family. Job. Hope. Until faith in God, the kindness of someone who took a chance on me, and hard work, finally broke the cycle.”

PHOTOS: Richard Wallrath's epic Champion Ranch up for sale

He worked hard to regain his family — including the children who ultimately “betrayed” him, he said during his court fight in 2013 — and ultimately sold Champion Windows for $66 million. He donated a third of that right away: In addition to gifts to 4-H and FFA, he set up the Richard Wallrath Education Foundation, which has funded more than $6 million in scholarships since 2006.

A 2012 biopic of Wallrath’s life, “Deep in the Heart,” starred John Gries as Wallrath and Val Kilmer as a mysterious and bearded spiritual adviser.

RELATED: T. Boone Pickens selling Panhandle ranch for $250 million

The ranch up for sale comprises 5,000 acres near Centerville (northeast of College Station), 36 oil and gas wells and more than 20 lakes. Included are mineral ownership, more than 1,000 prized Brangus cattle and horses, a peach orchard and even rights and royalties to the movie and a planned sequel.

In addition to the owner’s home on a private lake, the ranch features eight guest and ranch houses, a bunkhouse, multiple barns and a 2,200-square-foot “saloon” for corporate or private events.

Icon Global Group is handling the sale. The price has not been disclosed, but available on “pre-qualified” request.


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