James Ray Caton, Sr., age 84, died on January 20, 2019 in Lubbock, Texas. Jim was born January 24, 1934 to Bertha Ann Stibbens and Jessie James Caton, and was raised in Wylie, Texas by his beloved grandparents, Bertha Drain and Will Stibbens. He is survived by four children, Candace Elaine Riddle, James Ray Caton, Jr., Karen C. Caton and Mark T. Caton, and eight grand-children. He was preceded in death by his youngest child, John David Caton.
Jim was an extraordinary athlete in his younger days, putting himself through college with football scholarships before he received his GI Bill. He was a half-back in football, a third baseman in baseball. He played some semi-pro baseball at one point. But the responsibilities of life came first, and in later years he found hunting and golf, which gave him untold pleasure, along with raising horses and a few cattle. He always had a dog at his side, a cigar or a chew, a game on the TV or radio, and a newspaper to read.
While in the Army Jim married Jo Bailey. Although the marriage did not last, it did bring his first two children. Jim wrote for the Stars and Stripes, and found his first passion – journalism. After his military service, Jim graduated from North Texas State University in Denton with a Journalism degree, and began his career in the newspaper business, first as a writer and then as the owner and publisher of a succession of small local papers. He would buy a small local newspaper, build it up, sell it, and then buy another one and repeat that process. When he acquired the Archer County News, he moved to Archer City, Texas -- and there he met and married Betty Ann (Missy) Thurlkill, which would prove to be one of the pivotal points of his life.
Jim and Missy worked side by side in the newspaper business, but later moved to Houston, to put Jim through law school. He attended classes and studied during the day, while she worked to as a dispatcher at IBM to support a growing family. Jim contributed to the monthly expenses by driving a beer truck at night. Jim finished his law degree early, going year-round, and the family returned to Wylie, where he opened his first office. He would become a renowned criminal trial attorney in Collin County, with an office on the Square in McKinney for many years. He took on full support of the family at that point, as Missy then pursued her undergraduate and law degree, ultimately joining him in the law practice.
Jim and Missy parted ways in 1983, after 24 years together. She remained in McKinney, and continued her law practice, ultimately became a District Court Judge. Jim picked up his chips and tried his hand at ranching in Oklahoma for a while, but later had a second career as a small-town attorney in Seminole, Texas. Like Wylie, where he had started his life, Jim found the small-town pace of Seminole to be more suited to his own. In that final phase of his life, Jim enjoyed the company of the men in the community--their comradery and early morning coffee and conversation at the café. His law practice was very basic. He wrote bail bonds. He ran a one-girl office. But he had a chance to write columns for the local paper, which took him back to his love of writing; he had a place outside of town where he had a few horses and could let his dogs run; for years he enjoyed the golf and politics available in the community. Seminole was, for him, like coming home.
The family wishes to give heartfelt thanks to the people of Seminole who took him in and kept an eye on him, to the secretaries who kept him out of trouble, to the business community who interfaced with him, and to his men-friends (and their kind wives), who patiently indulged him and befriended him along the way.