J. E. Airhart
| James Edward "J. E." Airhart, Sr.|
(Civic and political figure in Dawson County, Texas)
|Born|| November 24, 1915 |
Mitchell County, Texas, USA
|Died|| March 25, 2007 (aged 91) |
Dawson County, Texas
|Spouse|| Margie Pearl Burchell Airhart (married 1934-1997, her death)|
James Edward Airhart, Sr., known as J. E. Airhart (November 24, 1915 – March 25, 2007), was a local civic and political figure in Dawson County in West Texas. Airhart was a promoter of the Dawson County Library, the Dal Paso Museum, and the Lamesa Senior Citizens Center.
A native of Mitchell County, also in west Texas, Airhart was the oldest of three sons of the former Ophelia Velma Latty (1897-1991) and Elonzo Clarence Airhart (1891-1975). In 1924, the family relocated to the Knott community in rural Howard County where J.E. met and married the former Margie Pearl Burchell in December 1934. Their first child was born at Knott, and, shortly after, Airhart purchased land in the Sparenburg community in southern Dawson County where he and Pearl farmed, ranched, and reared six children.
Airhart was widely recognized throughout West Texas as a livestock trader who was fair in his dealings and could supply almost any animal needed from buffalo to roping calves and horses. One of his most famous clients was the popular singer George Strait, who purchased a horse from him. Airhart often sold on credit and allowed many to pay him back from their first calf crop.
From 1955 to 1985, Airhart served on the Dawson County Commissioners Court, a five-member body including the county judge which meets in the county seat of Lamesa (pronounced LA MEESA). In this capacity he worked to obtain the county livestock and fair barns, the general aviation airport, and numerous highway improvements. He was instrumental in the successful negotiation of rights-of-way for U.S. Highway 87 between O'Donnell and Ackerly, Texas. Airhart also served on the board of the Klondike Independent School District and was a deacon of the Sparenberg Baptist Church.
J. E. "Jimmy" Airhart, Jr. (1935-2016), the oldest of Airhart's six children, like his father, was a farmer and rancher and served as superintendent of the Dawson County Independent School District. Donald Ray Airhart (1937-2017), another son, was a cattleman in Dawson County who like his father, served on the Klondike School Board and worked with youth in stock shows and other agricultural pursuits.
Death and legacy
Airhart was preceded in death by his wife Pearl, his parents, a brother, and one grandson. The six Airhart children included, in addition to sons Jimmy and Donald, Judy and Charlie Everts of Lamesa, Quinton and Sharon Airhart of the Klondike community, Glenda and Don Shortes of Ackerly, and Gayland and Donna Airhart of Lamesa. Quinton Elonzo Airhart (1941-2020) was for more than two decades the chairman of the Dawson County Board of Appraisal. He and his brother, Gayland, owned and operated the Big Spring Livestock Auction. He was a staunch spokesman for rural America and a promoter of the 4-H Club. His wife, the former Sharon Vogler, died in 2018.
- J. E. Airhart. Findagrave.com. Retrieved on November 14, 2019.
- James E. Airhart obituary, The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, March 26, 2007.
- James Edward Airhart, Jr.. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (August 6, 2016). Retrieved on November 14, 2019.
- Donald Airhart obituary, The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, August 6, 2017.
- Quinton Airhart obituary. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved on December 26, 2020.