J. R. "Jake" Fawcett

By: Freddie Bassinger—Jake’s nephew

J R “JAKE” FAWCETT WAS THE SIXTH OF EIGHT CHILDREN BORN TO JOHN ROBERT FAWCETT AND KATE (BURT) FAWCETT. HIS FATHER WAS BORN IN KINGSTON-UPON-HULL YORKSHIRE ENGLAND. HIS FATHER’S FAMILY MOVED TO HILLSBORO IN 1892. HIS MOTHER, KATE, WAS BORN IN IUKO, MISSISSIPPI. JAKE’S PARENTS MARRIED IN OSCEOLA ON 8-18-1907. HIS FATHER WAS 26 YEARS OLD. HIS MOTHER 25. THE FAMILY LIVED AT 115 FRANCIS STREET HERE IN HILLSBORO INITIALLY. THEY MOVED TO 506 HAWKINS STREET AFTER THE BIRTH OF THEIR THIRD CHILD.

THE FAWCETT FAMILY OWNED SEVERAL BUSINESSES IN HILLSBORO. JAKE’S GRANDFATHER, JOHN W. FAWCETT OWNED THE HILLSBORO PRODUCE COMPANY LOCATED ON “ROSE HILL” IN HILLSBORO. IN THE EARLY 20’s JAKE’S FATHER HIS UNCLE DELIVERED ICE TO FAMILIES IN TOWN. JAKE’S FATHER WAS ALSO THE CONTRACTOR FOR DELIVERY OF ICE FOR THE CITY OF HILLSBORO, ALONG WITH HAVING A CONTRACT TO DELIVER ICE AS ORDERED BY THE CITY OF HILLSBORO ITSELF. THIS BUSINESS THRIVED UNTIL THE LATE 30’s WHEN REFRIGERATION BECAME MORE PROMINENT.

I CAN ONLY CONJECTURE THAT WITH SUCH A LARGE FAMILY THERE WERE NOT ONLY CHORES AND SCHOOL, BUT A LOVE OF PLAYING. AS HIS YOUNGER SISTER STATED, “JAKE WAS ALWAYS A FOOTBALL PLAYER”.

MY UNCLE WAS NOT A MAN WHO SPOKE OF HIS PAST WITH ME. IN MY EXPERIENCE IT WAS COMMON FOR THE MEN OF THE WORLD WAR II ERA TO BE PRIVATE IN THE AFFAIRS OF THEIR LIVES. I DO KNOW THAT JAKE PLAYED HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL BECAUSE OF NEWPAPER CLIPPINGS AND PERSONAL PHOTOGRAPHS HE SAVED AS TREASURED MOMENTOS OF HIS YOUTH. AS ONE MIGHT ASSUME, A BOY HELPING DELIVER ICE DEVELOPED A STRONG BODY IDEAL FOR PLAYING FOOTBALL.

IN 1935 AT THE AGE OF 50 YEARS JAKE’S FATHER DIED. HE HAD BEEN VERY ILL FOR THE PRIOR FIVE YEARS. HE SUFFERED FROM A CIRCULATORY DISEASE, ENDERITITIS OF THE LOWER EXTREMITIES. DURING THE COURSE OF HIS ILLNESS HE HAD BOTH LEGS AMPUTATED.

IN 1936 HE WAS SELECTED ALL-DISTRICT CAPTAIN ON THE TRI DISTRICT CHAMPIONSHIP FOOTBALL TEAM. JAKE GRADUATED FROM HILLSBORO HIGH SCHOOL IN 1937.

THROUGHOUT HIS CAREER HE WAS A LINEMAN, PRIMARILY FILLING THE POSITION OF TACKLE. HE RECEIVED A SCHOLARSHIP TO PLAY FOOTBALL AT SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY IN DALLAS. FROM AN ARTICLE IN THE HILLSBORO MIRROR NEWSPAPER“WHILE PLAYING AT SMU HE WAS CONSIDERED ONE OF THE SOTHWEST’S FINEST LINEMAN.” I KNOW IT MUST HAVE BEEN QUIT A CHANGE FOR A SMALL TOWN BOY TO MOVE TO THE BIG CITY, AWAY FROM HIS FRIENDS AND FAMILY. AFTER FOUR YEARS OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL HE WAS DRAFTED BY THE CLEVELAND RAMS. HE PLAYED FOR THE RAMS IN 1942. THEN IN 1943 HE PLAYED FOR THE BROOKLYN DODGERS. UNITL I DID SOME RESEARCH ON MY UNCLE’S LIFE I DIDN’T KNOW THAT BROOKLYN HAD A PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL TEAM THAT PLAYED AT THE FAMOUS POLO GROUNDS.

JAKE JOINED THE NAVY ON 3-8-45 UNTIL DISCHARGED ON 7-5-46. A CHIEF PETTY OFFICER IN THE SHORE PATROL WHILE STATIONED AT SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA.

UPON DISCHARGE FROM THE NAVY JAKE RETURNED TO PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL WITH THE THEN RECENTLY RELOCATED LOS ANGELES RAMS. RECORDS SHOW THAT HE ONLY PLAYED FOUR GAMES DURING THAT YEAR. THE REASON FOR THIS IS UNKNOWN TO ME. IT IS POSSIBLE THAT ALONG WITH HIS AGE AND THE DEATH OF HIS FATHER ON 1-2-44 THAT HE FELT AS THOUGH HIS FAMILY NEEDED HIM TO BE CLOSER TO HOME. WHEN HE WAS DISCHARGED HE MOVED BACK IN WITH HIS MOTHER. A SISTER RECOUNTED, “HE TOOK CARE OF HER AND HE DID A GOOD JOB.”


JAKE HAD MADE PLANS TO GO INTO BUSINESS PRIOR TO LEAVING FOOTBALL. IN 1947, HE AND HIS BEST FRIEND, ALSO A HILLSBORO HIGH SCHOOL ALUM, HOWARD SHELTON BUILT A COMPANY ASSOCIATED WITH HIGHWAY CONSTRUCTION. THEY OWNED SEVERAL WATER HAULERS AND ENLISTED A TEAM OF DRIVERS. RECORDS INDICATE THAT THEIR COMPANY OPERATED IN WEST TEXAS AROUND THE BIG BEND AREA OF THE STATE. JAKE AND HOWARD ALSO OWNED A GAS STATION LOCATED IN HILLSBORO AT THE CORNER OF EAST WALNUT AND WACO STREET. SHELTON AND FAWCETT HUMBLE WAS THE NAME OF THIS ENTERPRISE. LATER SOLE OWNER SHIP WAS TRANFERRED TO BECOME JAKE FAWCETT HUMBLE. I T WAS LOCATED ON THE CORNER ACROSS THE STREET FROM BROOKSHIRE’S.

ONCE HE RETURNED HOME HE BECAME VERY INVOLVED IN LOCAL CIVIC ORGANIZATIONS SUCH AS THE JAYCEE’S, THE LION’S CLUB, THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE, BOY SCOUTS, THE HILL COUNTY HUNTING AND FISHING CLUB AND THE KNIGHTS OF PYTHIAS. HE WAS ALSO CHAIRMAN OF THE EVERY MEMBER CANVASS BUDGET COMMITTEE OF THE FIRST METHODIST CHURCH WHERE HE WAS MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF STEWARDS.

HE MARRIED VIRGINIA BLOUNT ON 10-29-53. BOTH JAKE AND VIRGINIA WERE GREAT GOLF FANS. THEY WERE MEMBERS OF THE HILLSBORO COUNTRY CLUB. FOR YEARS HE VOLUNTEERED TO “SUPERVISE THE HILLSBORO COUNTRY CLUB GOLF COURSE”.

IN THE EARLY 50’S UNCLE JAKE WOULD REFEREE LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL GAMES. WHEN HE WASN’T REFEREING WE WOULD GO TO ALL THE EAGLES FOOTBALL GAMES. AS A CHILD I REMEMBER A LARGE GROUP OF MY FRIENDS, THEIR PARENTS AND LOCAL FOLKS GOING TO THE KAI-KAI RESTAURANT OR ANDREW’S CAFÉ AFTER THE BALL GAMES TO DRINK COFFEE AND TALK AND LAUGH. UNCLE JAKE ALWAYS ENJOYED HAVING CHILDREN AROUND. WE ALSO WNET TO COLLEGE GAMES TO WATCH SMU OR BAYLOR. AT THAT TIME THE SOUTHWEST CONFERENCE WAS COMPOSED PRIMARILY OF TEXAS TEAMS WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THE UNIVERSITIES OF ARKANSAS AND OKLAHOMA.

IN THE 1957 JAKE AND HOWARD SOLD THE GAS STATION TO KEN ARNOLD. JAKE THEN BEGAN SELLING SPORTING GOODS WITH HOLTS SPORTING GOODS. IN 1968 THIS COMPANYT SOLD RESULTING IN A MOVE TO OSHMAN’S WHICH IS WHERE THIS WAS THE CAREER HE FOLLOWED THE MAJORITY OF HIS LIFE. IN 1985 JAKE RETIRED FROM OSHMAN’S BUT WORKED PART-TIME AT C & C SPORTING GOODS UNTIL HIS DEATH.

AS I GOT OLDER JAKE PLAYED MORE GOLF AND WATCHED MORE FOOTBALL ON TV. HE DIED ON 4-29-90 OF LUNG CANCER. HE WAS A MAN WHO LIVED HIS LIFE WITH A LOVE OF FAMILY, FRIENDS AND COMMUNITY. HE LIVED HIS ENTIRE LIFE IN HILLSBORO. AFTER LIVING IN DALLAS, CLEVELAND, BROOKLYN, SAN DIEGO AND LOS ANGELES HE RETURNED HOME TO THE PEOPLE AND TOWN WHO MEANT THE MOST TO HIM.