Someone once said there are four parts of important information on a grave marker. There’s the person’s name, the person’s date of birth and the day the person died. The fourth piece of information is the dash that separates the two dates. The dash represents the life that was lived, and therein lies the tale.
Bobby Cavazos was a man whose “dash” was lived to the fullest. He is a true son of Texas, descended from a family that was in Texas long before there was a Texas. He was born in 1930 on one of the legends of Texas—the King Ranch.
His father was foreman of the San Gertrudis division of the ranch. The ranch has four divisions, and the San Getrudis is the main division, with the headquarters located just outside Kingsville. Bobby was the youngest of four children born to Lauro and Tomasa Cavazos. His sister, Sarita, was the first Hispanic child to attend the local elementary school, followed by her brothers, Lauro, Jr. and Richard. Bobby also attended the school.
Bobby excelled at football in high school. He lettered all three years he was involved in the football program, and was twice named to the All-South Texas team by the Kingsville Record. He also lettered in track and basketball.
His sophomore year in high school he was the football team manager. He played his junior year, but injured his foot and missed most of the season. His senior year was injury-free and Cavazos caught plenty of eyes with his running, as he was offered a scholarship to attend Texas Tech University.
It was while Cavazos was at Tech that he met a young woman from Breckinridge, Texas. He was a junior and she was a freshman, but he and Nancy hit it off. They were married toward the end of his senior year in February, 1953.
Cavazos led the Red Raiders in rushing his sophomore through senior years, rushing for 757 yards his last year. He and his teammates went 11-1 in that year, going to the Gator Bowl at the end of the season, where they beat Auburn, 34-13. He was voted MVP of the Gator Bowl, rushing for 141 yards and three touchdowns.
Mrs. Cavazos said that her late husband was unselfish and very team-oriented.
“During the Gator Bowl,” she said, ”his coach asked if he wanted to go back in and score some more touchdowns. But Bobby said, ‘No.’ He mentioned one of his friends on the team and suggested that he go in for the rest of the game because that friend needed a few more minutes of play to earn a letter.”
During Cavazos’ college career, he was an honorable mention All-American in 1951 and was second-team All-American his senior year. His greatest honor at Tech, though, was to be voted Mr. Texas Tech his senior year. It was a measure of the esteem and the friendships that he had developed.
Cavazos was drafted with the 26th pick of the NFL draft in 1954, taken first in the third round, by the Chicago Cardinals. However, he suffered a severe injury to his shoulder in the first preseason game. He never played a down in a regular-season game.
Cavazos didn’t look at the departure from the NFL as a disappointment, not when he could return to the ranch.
“There were a lot of guys that (football) was the only thing they had going for them. But I knew that I had my job back there with dad on the King Ranch, because I had worked for him every summer,” Cavazos told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal in 2013.
Nancy Cavazos said that Bobby always wanted to be a rancher and he had no regrets about his NFL career. He went on to become foreman of the Laureles division, the largest division of the King Ranch, located between Kingsville and Corpus Christi.
Cavazos served in Korea after college to fulfill his ROTC obligations while at Tech.
“When Bobby first got to Korea, he was stationed at the 38th parallel,” Nancy said. “Then they found out who he was, and he was transferred away from the (Demilitarized Zone) and assigned to coach the Army football team there. They won the championship.”
Having served his country, Cavazos went on to become a foreman at the King Ranch. He also found time to publish two books, serve as a Kleburg County commissioner and raise three children with his wife before his death in 2016.
Bobby Cavazos was a man who was well-liked by everyone who knew him. He came from a family of achievers. His sister married into a sports family, the Ochoas from Laredo. His older brother, Lauro, Jr., became president of Texas Tech University. His other brother spent his life serving in the U.S. Army, rising to the rank of four-star general.
Now Bobby Cavazos is being inducted into the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame. When one looks at the dash between November 26, 1930 and November 16, 2016, and when one sees the name “Bobby Cavazos,” that person can know that the dash was rich and full and rewarding.