Donald Wade

Donald Glen Wade

Saturday, October 26th, 1946 - Sunday, March 1st, 2020
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Don Wade was always amused by the fact that he was born in Big Spring, Texas, where the opening scenes of Midnight Cowboy, the only X-rated film to ever win a Best Picture Oscar, were filmed. “It was apt,” he deadpanned last year, on the 50th anniversary of the film, “it was uniquely unique.”

That statement and sentiment perfectly suited Don; he himself was so different, living life on his own terms — quirky, eccentric, unorthodox, with an endless repository of black humor — the quintessential free spirit in many ways, and yet, a man who built his life and career working with like-minded people, surrounded by and caring for children and young men that needed him most, boys with substance issues and behavioral concerns, including on his beloved Azleway Boys Ranch.

Donald Glenn Wade was born October 26, 1946, in Big Spring to John Morris Wade and Iona Waller Wade. He passed away after a short illness on March 1, 2020, in Temple, Texas. He attended schools in the tiny Texas towns of Evant and Big Lake — leading to an enduring interest in the decline of smalltown America and ghost towns — and graduated from Reagan County High School in 1965, before getting his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Texas at Tyler.

In 1968, he enlisted in the United States Navy. It was a big decision; this was the year that began with the Viet Cong & NVA launching the infamous Tet Offensive against a US-led coalition. It would go onto become the year with the highest-ever American casualties of the Vietnam War. More than 16,000 Americans died in the war that year; Don himself would eventually receive an honorable discharge from the Navy in the aftermath of an injury.

While Don rarely spoke about his time on a U.S. naval sub, he would say that what kept him going through everything, the best of times and the worst of times, were songs that told a story and his books. The boy that was an avid outdoorsman who once loved to fish and hunt with his father and friends in Best, Texas, turned into an equally ardent bibliophile. He and his wife of 30+ years, Suzanne, who predeceased him by less than a month, were very much a unit. Their idea of the perfect evening was a couple of books, a musician crooning a story in the background, a couple of drinks, some shrimp and grits, and each other.

He was also someone who loved working with his hands — a master carpenter and wood artist who built everything from elaborate bookshelves to coffee tables, guitars to delicate pens. He himself loved writing emails, little bits of information that gave everyone glimpses of his world and his thoughts. Once he wrote, “My race is nearly run but you have many more laps to go ...Mostly I am an old hippie and want peace and prosperity for you.” That was Don.

Don is survived by his son Wyly Wade (Kadambari) of Chandler, Arizona, daughter Wendilynn Wade Watts (Branden) currently of Thailand, as well as grandchildren Kyra Barbara Wade, Bensen Lee Watts and Raiden Wade Watts, sister Linda Wade Hays of Temple, niece Robyn Lechuga of Belton, Texas, and nephew Jonathan Beardsley of Dallas. Somewhere up there, we hope he’s happy, back to living his best life with Suzanne, debating history and politics and criminal justice with deadpan humor, listening to Muddy Waters and the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and Eva Cassidy, or just his fellow Texan, Robert Earl Keen, singing, “The road goes on forever and the party never ends.”
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