Alumni: For Tony, giving back is a responsibility

“I feel a responsibility to give back,” said Shuron “Tony” Wade, who spent eight years at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch from 1980 through ’87.

“It was the best place for me and, to this day, I wouldn’t change anything about my being there. I want to be a positive role model for the kids who are out there now.”

Wade remembers walking in their shoes, and today, he wants to walk beside the current residents, assuring them they will be okay. He wants to pass on what he has learned, to be a resource and source of help to the next generations.

If I listed everyone who has had an impact on me, it would fill an entire book.

“It’s about the kids. There was a time when I thought I didn’t have anywhere to turn or go, and I felt lost,” he said. “I don’t want a child to think no one understands this, or to feel alone. If they need help, we’re going to help them.” 

Wade vividly remembers his days at Boys Ranch. He learned to work, first starting on the custodian crew, and then he was a server in the kitchen. “I learned to take care of myself and to take care of others,” he said. 

Between the work ethic he acquired and the experience he had, he was able to leave Boys Ranch and immediately go to work. He said he has never had a time when he didn’t want to work. 

Wade said he has come a long way from when he was a troubled child. His mother died in a car crash before he was two. He and two sisters were being raised by grandparents. Dad was not in the picture. 

“By age 10, I was running the streets of Amarillo, playing hooky and stealing from stores,” Wade said. “My grandmother sent me to Boys Ranch, and I thought she didn’t love me. I know now it was the best thing she ever did for me. If not for that place, I’d be six feet under or behind bars.”

Wade fondly reminisces about his years at Boys Ranch. Names of houseparents, mentors, and friends roll across his lips effortlessly: Alan Dillingham. H.E. Burchard. Billy Bob Touchstone. Dean Dodson. Randy Earl. Frank Davis. Mr. Landers. Mr. Turner. These names make him smile because they made a positive difference in his life. 

“If I listed everyone who has had an impact on me, it would fill an entire book,” Wade said. “There were so many people who did things that helped me and taught me about life.”

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