Born in 1877, Ewing Halsell was a prominent cattle rancher in Texas and Oklahoma during the early 1900s. He was raised in the Cherokee town of Vinita, Oklahoma where he met his wife Lucile Fortner. Lucile was a member of one of Vinita’s most respected families and was also of Cherokee and Scottish descent. Together they lived on ranches in Oklahoma and Texas and in their later years, at the St. Anthony Hotel in downtown San Antonio.
Mr. and Mrs. Halsell both led privileged lives, yet remained grounded, generous individuals exemplifying values of hard work, strong moral character, and social compassion. The Halsells, having both inherited and built their wealth, considered this good fortune to be a blessing, not a right. An integral and fulfilling part of that blessing, they felt, was the ability to share it.
Ewing and Lucile Halsell did not have children of their own and wished to leave the bulk of their fortune to benefit those less fortunate than themselves. They established a Texas-based charitable trust on June 29, 1957, to foster their philanthropic mission, values, and vision. While the bulk of the financial backings for the Ewing Halsell Foundation came directly from the Halsells, Lucille's sister, Grace Fortner Rider, impressed by the good works of the foundation in her later years, allocated a large portion of her estate to be gifted to the Foundation upon her death in 1971.