When the sprawling ranch of Texas personality and philanthropist Richard “Dick” Wallrath came on the market in May 2018, many people expected the property to go relatively quickly. Yes, it’s an amazing 5,000 acres of ranchland, which includes profitable oil- and gas-well rights, but notably, Wallrath’s plan was to have the majority of the sale proceeds be directed towards 4-H and FFA charities in trust. That helped make it one of the most talked-about ranches on the market.
Bernard Uechtritz, founder of real estate company Icon Global Group, told AGDAILY, “We have two prospective buyers in final counter negotiations, which have been delayed by the coronavirus pandemic — one is a national buyer, and the other an international buyer. Both are awaiting easing of travel restrictions to return to the ranch for final inspections and complete negotiations to determine which will be the new owner.”
As of November 2019, Icon Global said that bids were closed for Champion Ranch. Wallrath had instructed Uechtritz to facilitate a creative transaction that would provide significant term inducements and incentives, including the proceeds that would be earmarked for the ag youth organizations.
Wallrath said, “My wife, Patsy, and I have long loved this ranch; however, at this stage in our lives we would like to retire from ranching and pass this along to someone who will love and enjoy it as much as we have. It is our wish that proceeds will continue to benefit the Richard C. Wallrath Foundation and its mission of continuing to support scholarships of the 4-H and FFA programs.”
The multi-faceted deal included all of the aforementioned owned energy rights — including existing and future royalty income streams — approximately 1,000 head of purebred cattle, and more. The deal, however, does not include movie rights to Deep in the Heart, an independent movie with a sequel in development. The film, dubbed in 2011 as one of the Austin Film Festival’s Top 5 Must-See Films, is based on the life story of Wallrath and his tale of fortune, fame, tragedy, and triumph in Texas.
Wallrath made his fortune pioneering a small Houston window business called Champion Windows into a national name brand. He sold Champion Windows for $66 million and previously donated $22 million of the proceeds to helping young people. Of that, $7 million went to the Houston Livestock Show and $3 million to FFA and 4-H charities. With the remaining $12 million, Wallrath established the Richard Wallrath Educational Foundation. His foundation has provided more than $6 million in some 600 Scholarship since 2006. To date, Richard Wallrath, a self-professed recovered alcoholic, is the all-time largest individual donor in the history of the Texas 4-H Youth Development Program.
Located halfway between Dallas and Houston, Champion Ranch boasts over 5,000 acres of prime ranchland. Livestock include herds of purebred Brangus breeder cattle and award-winning horses. Ranch equipment and more are offered in the “turn-key” sale.
Atop oak tree studded sandy loam hills, the property includes an idyllic owner’s home on a private 78-acre lake. In addition, the ranch has numerous barns, eight guest and ranch houses, and a 16-person “bunkhouse.” The main house is 3,992 square feet, has three bedrooms and two baths, and was built in 2002. With over 20 lakes, stock ponds, and live river streams, Champion Ranch is also home to a sprawling peach orchid that currently produces a variety of peaches.
According to the Wallrath Foundation, Wallrath frequently says, “When you give a child an education, you give them something no one can steal. That’s why we’re here: To provide scholarships to deserving high school seniors through the 4-H and FFA Foundations. To help make dreams come true. To give students the tools they need to go out in the world and do great things.”