Late-night TV hosts have really missed an opportunity to have an articulate Texan with an Ivy League degree and a down-home way — Trevor Rees-Jones.
That was apparent at the Entrepreneur for North Texas’ Annual Spirit of Entrepreneurship at Communities Foundation of Texas, when he was inducted in to the Ring of Entrepreneurship. In the lobby and courtyard guests like Frank Risch, Randall Goss, Ellen and John McStay, Eric Bennett and Jo and Andre Staffelbach attended the cocktail reception. Bobby Lyle reminded guests that Trevor had given the largest donation ever to the Circle 10 Council Boy Scouts of America — $25M.
On a table in the lobby were opportunities for guests to bid on “Facetime” with such people as Garrett Boone, Jim Keyes, Herb Kelleher and Colleen Barrett, Bobby Lyle and Phil Romano.
Jan Rees-Jones was all in white and glowed. She revealed that son Trevor III and his girlfriend, Jenny Ebeier, were engaged and planning a fall wedding.
To dress up the place appropriately for such types, Aston Martins were parked in the courtyard with impressive price tags. Try $313,355 with a disclaimer that the average gas cost would be $3,750 per year.
Trevor, asked about being inducted into the entrepreneurs circle, admitted, “It feels great. The past honorees were men and women of significant talents and entrepreneurial spirit who all contributed in different ways. So it’s a tremendous honor.”
Looking around the room he said how as a 9-year-old his family had lived nearby on Centenary. It was before CFT was built and was part of the Caruth farm. Trevor and his friends would play there by “rolling tunnels” through the tall grass. When asked whether the Caruths let them play there, he said, “I don’t know that they knew! They’d-a had to find us first, and we were little kids who ran real fast!”
After he’d received a number of congratulations from friends in the VIP reception, Trevor quietly left through a door opened to the adjacent assembly hall to review the arrangements for the evening in CFT’s assembly hall.
The Dartmouth grad with his deep Texas accent was handling the staging with the finesse of a Tony-winning producer. He wanted to make sure that the youngsters asking the questions were comfortable. Yes, he would start off on stage in a chair, but he just might wander the stage.
No, he wouldn’t need a mic. His voice would carry.
On the sidelines, the ever-dapper CFT President/CEO Brent Christopher was looking a bit sheepish. Someone had recommended that he set the evening mood by his attire. After all, the evening’s theme was “Wildcatter Risk, Philanthropic Return.” Was it the turquoise chaps? The white cowboy hat? Well, at least Brent maintain his identity wearing his signature bowtie instead of a bolo tie.
At 6:51 p.m. the hall was filled to capacity. The Boy Scouts presented the flags. Brent welcomed the guests. EFNT Board of Advisors’ Patrick Brant subbed in for EFNT Executive Director Pam Gerber, who was under the weather. He and EFNT Program Director Sejal Desai presented Imaginuity Interactive and Montgomery Coscia Greilich LLP with the EFNT’s North Star Ward for providing “a sense of direction for others to follow for making North Texas an extraordinary place to live and work.”
Next up was Mayor Mike Rawlings, who introduced Trevor. It went off with only an itty-bitty hitch. He told of Trevor’s going to Dartmouth and his many accomplishments. Then he said that Trevor got to Dallas as soon as he could. Guess no one had told Mike that Trevor was a native son.
That’s when Trevor took his place on the stage and showed his showmanship. Only surprise was he did need the mic, because the crowd was so big that the back row was craning their necks to hear every word.
The questions were posed by young people who each represented a different organization in which Trevor and Jan had been involved. After each question was asked, Trevor thanked them by name.
- Brittaney Johnson from Circle of Support Dallas asked what were the attributes of strong character. Trevor’s answer: “There seems to be a lot of people dealing in grey areas these days. But, the difference between right and wrong more often is associated with black and white. It’s either right or wrong.”
- Mildred White from Project Transformation asked what book or story inspired him in charity. Trevor’s answer: The Bible. “We are a Christian foundation and organization. … We are stewards of our wealth. Use it in ways that glorify our lord.” He then joked, “Hope he also lets us use some for our personal use. I’m also hoping that the ‘eye of the needle and camel’ story is not literally true.”
- Juan Martinez of Communities in Schools asked who had encouraged him to start the charity? Trevor said he was escaping being a lawyer at the beginning. “I couldn’t stand it. There’d too much in the gray. That was an unnecessary comment! … You need to find something you enjoy doing. [So he got into oil and gas] For 15 years, I lost. Only won enough to keep going.”
- Ahsan Vency representing Boy Scout Troop 758, asked whether Trevor had been in the Scouts. Trevor said he was a Boy Scout, adding, “I did receive the rank of the Eagle.” He went on to explain that the Scouts have a time-tested model that’s been around a long time. “It helps you develop self-confidence and sense of self-worth.”
- Aubrey Parker of Chase’s Place, asked what he had wanted to do growing up? Trevor says he loved to spend time outdoors. “I wasn’t much of an indoors guy.” He rode his bicycle everywhere. The early signs of entrepreneurship started when he caught crawdads and tadpoles, put them in a bucket and sold them to neighborhood kids: 1 cent, 3 cents, five cents (if it had four legs). He also caught birds. Cardinals went for 25 cents each. Aubrey then asked what he loved to do? Trevor answered that one by first admitting that it was going to be a “selfish answer: to spend time at our ranch. I just love being in the outdoors. Trace it back right to here: ‘rolling tunnels” at Caruth Farm!”