ABILENE, Texas (News Release) — Lale and the late Dr. B.J. Estes were recognized by the Abilene Chamber of Commerce as Abilene’s 2021Citizens of the Year at its Annual Membership Meeting & Awards Celebration on September 23, 2021.
The award was presented to Mrs. Estes by the 2020winners, Larry and Mary Gill.
The Outstanding Citizen of the Year award has been given annually since 1946 to a person or persons who has made an impact on the city of Abilene.
Individuals and organizations were invited to nominate someone they thought contributed in an outstanding manner to the betterment of the Abilene community over the last year, several years or a lifetime in determining the award.
This is only the fifth time that the award has been presented to more than one person.
The others were:
- 2001: The Dyess Air Force Base Family
- 2005: Gail and Joe Russey
- 2006: Kathy and Dr. Jim Webster
- 2014: Becky and Jack Rentz
- 2020: Mary and Larry Gill
The Esteses are well-known, generous people. Mrs. Estes’s mother instilled in her a lifelong love for children, reading and the arts. In conjunction with her niece and nephew’s T&T Foundation, Dr. and Mrs. Estes were donors to many causes in Abilene such as the Children’s Art and Literacy Festival, Young Audiences, Children’s Performing Arts Series, and the Abilene Arts Alliance.
Several friends mentioned Mrs. Estes leaning over and kissing one of the Storybook Garden statues during its dedication. The Esteses made a significant contribution to the statue and were committed to Arts in Abilene.
Dr. Estes was the consummate physician, carrying on a 100-year tradition of a doctor from the Estes family working in Abilene. He received the Gold Headed Cane Award for contributions to the Abilene community. In addition, the Texas Senate recognized him for his career dating back to 1957, and his “compassion for the less fortunate, the indigent and the elderly…He was a throwback to the country doctor who ministers medically and spiritually to hurting people in his community. His life is one of service, and we praise this quiet, unassuming, everyday hero.” He enjoyed running, backpacking, fishing, scuba diving, and canoeing.
Both were accomplished gardeners and loved to travel, including making the Olympic Games in Barcelona and Calgary.
Last September, Dr. Estes died at age 89.
For additional information, contact the Abilene Chamber of Commerce during regular business hours at 325-677-7241.