The Grand Duke from Boys Ranch

The Grand Duke from Boys Ranch


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As a boy in Houston, Bill Sarpalius, his brothers, and their mother lived an itinerant life. Bill dug food out of trashcans, and he and his brothers moved from one school to the next. They squatted in a vacant home while their mother, affectionately called “Honey,” battled alcoholism and suicidal tendencies. In an act of desperation, she handed her three sons over to Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch north of Amarillo.

At the time, Bill was thirteen years old and could not read. Life at Boys Ranch had its own set of harrowing challenges, however. He found himself living in fear of some staff and older boys. He became involved in Future Farmers of America and discovered a talent for public speaking. When he graduated, he had a hundred dollars and no place to go. He worked hard, earned a scholarship from the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and obtained a college degree. After a brief career as a teacher and in agribusiness, he won a seat in the Texas Senate. Driven by the memory of his suffering mother, he launched the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse in an effort to help people struggling with addiction.

Sarpalius later served in the United States Congress. As a Lithuanian American, he took a special interest in that nation’s fight for independence from the Soviet Union. For his efforts, Sarpalius received the highest honor possible to a non-Lithuanian citizen and was named a “Grand Duke.”

The Grand Duke from Boys Ranch is a unique political memoir—the story of a life full of unlikely paths that is at once heartbreaking and inspirational.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781623496579
Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
Publication date: 04/16/2018
Series: Eugenia & Hugh M. Stewart '26 Series
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 794,067
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

BILL SARPALIUS represented the Texas 13th Congressional District from 1989 to 1995, and from 1981 to 1989 he served in the Texas State Senate. He currently is a motivational speaker and serves as CEO of Advantage Associates International. He divides his time between Maryland and Houston, Texas.

Table of Contents

Foreword Bill Hobby ix

Acknowledgments xi

Part I Cal Farley's Boys Ranch

1 Abandoned 3

2 Cal Farley 12

3 A Schooling 21

4 The Rodeo 27

5 Homeless 29

6 Tascosa 38

7 Back to School 42

8 Growing Up 53

Part II Farming, My Future

9 Future Farmers of America 61

10 The Free World 73

11 Politics 101

12 Honey 116

Part III State Politics

13 A New Road to Travel 127

14 The Primary 140

15 The General Election 151

16 Am I In Over My Head? 160

17 My First Session 173

18 Fighting Mad 184

Part IV The Painful road to National Politics

19 Finding My Father and Saving the FFA 199

20 A Walking Miracle 207

21 Agony Even in Victory 215

22 From Slot Machines to Congress 230

23 What Does He Have Planned for Me? 236

24 The Lithuanian Dream 248

Part V International Politics

25 The Fall of the Soviet Union 259

26 Fighting the Soviet Empire 273

27 The First Lady Comes to Boys Ranch 278

28 Voting for War 286

29 Losing What You Love 291

30 Grand Duke 300

Epilogue 307

Index 311

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