Brenda and Dan Hughes were named Citizens of the Year for their contributions to the community in the last year and Gabriel Aleman and Micaela Ochoa, owners of Angel Care Ambulance Service, received the Business of the Year award.
Businessman Dave Moore dropped a few hints about the Hughes family by recounting how Dan Hughes started out in his career.
“He graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in geology in 1951 and subsequently answered the call to serve his country in the Korean Conflict,” Moore said.
Immediately, those at the banquet started looking at the table where the Hugheses were sitting.
After winning a Bronze Star, Hughes returned to the oil field and bought a federal lease in New Mexico, Moore continued. He sold the lease for an overriding royalty to an oil operator there and the well that operator drilled is still producing.
Hughes went on to work in New Orleans as a geological scout and he later transferred to the company’s Beeville office.
The geologist went out on his own in 1961 and did consulting work for the Caddo Oil Co. of Shreveport.
But in 1965, Hughes and his brother formed a partnership and began drilling their own prospects in Mississippi, Louisiana and South Texas.
What won the hearts of Beeville residents and the Citizens of the Year honors for the Hugheses were their recent investments in the community.
With the economy expanding because of the influx of oil and gas-related companies, Dan and Brenda Hughes began providing the community with some badly needed amenities, including the Danville townhouse project and Dog and Bee Pub which opened downtown recently.
Moore praised the efforts of Brenda Hughes since she arrived in Beeville.
“Blazing her own path from project to project since she arrived, she is strong willed but also very kind hearted and compassionate,” Moore said.
He cited her willingness to devote her time and energy to charitable causes. “She never turns down a challenge. ‘I can’t’ is not in her vocabulary. She will make it happen.”
In addition to local charities, Dan and Brenda Hughes have made contributions to Texas A&M University, which included the restoration of the campus’ famous Military Walk.
The Hugheses also donated a state-of-the-art hyperbaric chamber to Christus Spohn Hospital Beeville and provided the funds to upgrade the main runway at the Chase Field Industrial and Airport Complex.
That project will help attract new industry to the former naval air station.
“When the community needed housing to alleviate a shortage because of the rapid growth due to the Eagle Ford Shale (production), they were there. When downtown Beeville needed a lift and a new breath of life, they were there,” Moore continued.
The Angel Care owners were introduced earlier at the banquet by CofC incoming board chairman Orlando Vasquez.
“It began with an idea of helping people, providing a product or service better than anyone else,” Vasquez said of the decision that Aleman and Ochoa made to start their company.
“They began with two employees or less. Their first office or location was out of a home or apartment. This business began with used equipment. They struggled in the early years, sometimes going without salaries,” Vasquez said.
“Within 24 months this business became profitable, increased staff, even moved the office to a more visible location. The business also began purchasing new equipment.”
“The owners of this business have never forgotten how they started and how difficult the early years were,” Vasquez continued.
“Today they have more than 40 full- and part-time employees,” Vasquez told the crowd.
The business has opened a training facility for anyone who wants to learn the emergency medical service trade, whether they work for Angel Care or some other business.
Their building also has sleeping quarters for the employees working long shifts.
Vasquez said the business now has a large fleet of ambulances, wheelchair vans and two first responder vehicles.
“You can find them near the end zones of a football field during football season,” Vasquez said, “You can reach them by dialing 911.”
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.