Charles Lewis Borchers, M.D., beloved husband, father, physician, cattleman, community leader and philanthropist, mentor and friend to many passed away on Friday, January 13, 2012, after a brief illness and attempted life-saving heart procedure.
He was born on December 23, 1924, in the rural Lavaca County community of Hope to the late Willie Menn Borchers and Mary Schaeg Borchers.
He is survived by two loving daughters, Mary Kay Borchers of Houston, and Charla Borchers Leon and her husband Robert B. "Bobby" Leon of Victoria, brothers, Otto R. Borchers of Yoakum, and Marion J. Borchers of New Braunfels and their wives, brother-in-law Don G. Kaspar of Shiner, eight Borchers nieces and nephews and their husbands and wives, four Kaspar nephews and their wives, 24 great and 2 great-great nieces and nephews.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his late wife of 61 years, Mary Katherine Welhausen Borchers, his late brother William H. Borchers and wife Joyce Word Borchers of New Braunfels, and his late sister-in-law Jean Welhausen Kaspar of Shiner.
Born in one of the coldest winters on record, he was the second son of four reared on a working cattle ranch in southern Lavaca County and continued as third generation in ranching land that now has been in the family 105 years. His stern upbringing had him working cattle horseback at 5 years of age, traveling to and from grade school several miles horseback every day, breaking wild horses at 12 and being of the last generation which rode on chuck wagon 'round-ups' as a young man.
With his mother being a country school teacher, he started public school in the 3rd grade and graduated at age 15 from Yoakum High School. Being too young to enter college, he completed courses at Baldwin's Business College in Yoakum before entering Texas AM and Infantry ROTC training at 16, one year later in 1941.
A patriot and young stalwart of duty and service, and with the onset of World War II limiting availability of ranch hands, he returned to work on the ranch for almost 2 years, and at 18, declared to his father that he wanted to help defend his country. He enlisted and fought with the 112th Regimental Combat Team in the Philippines six months later. An infantry combat veteran, decorated soldier for meritorious service, and 6 Stripe First Sergeant, he became a directly-commissioned Second Lieutenant. Among memorable war-time stories is his recollection of witnessing the surrender of Japan on V-J Day in September 1945, from a nearby ship in Tokyo Bay, Japan.
His return home in the fall of 1946 and anticipated marriage on August 30, 1947 prompted his enrollment in the University of Texas at Austin from where he received his Bachelor of Science Degree with Honors and became a licensed Pharmacist in 1949. After stints with a Houston pharmacy and as a medical service representative with E. I. Lilly and Company for two years, he applied for medical school and completed his Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston in June 1955 with membership in Phi Beta Pi Medical Fraternity. After interning in Austin's Brackenridge Hospital, he practiced medicine one year in Yoakum, before opening his solo practice in Victoria in October 1957. On June 30, 1984, he closed his general practice of medicine and surgery, having had over 169,000 office visits and delivering well over 1500 babies into the world.
He has been a licensed Pharmacist for 62 years and Doctor of Medicine for 57 years; a 55-year member of the Texas and American Medical Associations, the American Academy of Family Physicians, a Past President of the Victoria-Jackson-Goliad Counties Medical Society and a Past President and member of the Inter-County Clinical Society for 56 years. Respect for his medical acumen and leadership credited him with service as a past 3-term Chairman of the Board of DeTar Hospital and past Chief of Staff as well as serving as a member of the Medical Board of Governors of Hospital Corporation of America, the then parent company of the current DeTar Healthcare System, and was the only physician to serve in that capacity for 2 terms. Additionally, he was a Past Chairman of the Victoria City-County Health Unit for 5 years and was a past Medical Director of the Region 20 American Cancer Society. He preferred the distinction of 'Good Ol' Country Doctor' and had great satisfaction in having cared for his many patients. He believed that his work as a physician was an extension of God's hand in helping others.
A lifetime of community service, leadership and philanthropy were evident with his significant time as a Director of Victoria Bank and Trust Company through its transition to Norwest and Wells Fargo Bank for nearly 30 years, a charter member of the Board of Directors of the Victoria Performing Arts Center and Endowment Trustee of the Victoria Symphony Society for 19 years, Past Chairman of the Board and Member of the Board of Trustees of First Christian Church, and Past Director of both the Rotary Club of Victoria and the Chamber of Commerce. His generosity significantly benefited the Victoria Performing Arts Center with the Dr. Charles and Mary Katherine Borchers Performance Hall bearing his name, the Victoria Symphony Endowment Trust, Victoria County Courthouse Restoration, the American Cancer Society Cattle Barons' Ball, the Museum of the Coastal Bend at the Victoria College and other fundraising campaigns. For noted service and support, he and his late wife were jointly honored as Distinguished Citizens of Victoria in 2002.
He is recognized as an Honorary Deputy Sheriff in both Victoria County and Goliad County and is a Life Member of the Victoria 100 Club in support of law enforcement. He supports preservation and museum efforts through current membership in various organizations. He is in a unique group with Life Membership in the University of Texas Ex-Students' Association and membership in the Texas AM University Former Students' Association.
His love of country and the land can only be paralleled with that for his family and heritage. A third generation rancher and cattleman, he with his late wife and two daughters partner in Borchers Southern Y Ranches, L.P., a commercial Brahman-Hereford F1 cow-calf and purebred Santa Gertrudis cattle operation in three divisions in seven surrounding South Texas counties. He belongs to the Brahman, Hereford and American Quarter Horse Associations and is a past member of the Board of Directors of Santa Gertrudis Breeders International. He has received numerous agricultural awards including Person of the Year in Agriculture and was very recently inducted into the Santa Gertrudis Breeders Hall of Fame for his contributions in the establishment of the commercial Star 5 program.
His passion for pristine surroundings and compassion for the care of animals is indicative of being a good steward of the land, which he believed ultimately belonged to God and should be left in better shape than the condition in which it was acquired. While most of his professional career was in the practice of medicine, he never lost his love and interest in the life he knew on the ranch. He would tell you, "No real cattleman I ever knew, ever did."
A man of deep conviction, high moral standard and unflinching loyalty, his word was his command and his handshake his honor. He listened to many in his various roles in life, and would always rest on providing advice of right over wrong. His wit and demeanor brought a smile to most he knew, and when he looked you in the eye with commitment, he was your friend and confidant for life. His humility ran deep with satisfaction in making the most of life. His gentle stoicism was with him to his last days with concern for others, and especially those who helped care for him.
He and his daughters express heartfelt appreciation to lifelong best friend and physician Dr. Larry Riedel, most trusted ranch manager Thomas W. Phillips, capable office assistant Lisa Baker, loyal household assistants Josephine Reyes, Pat Espindola, and Carlos De La Cruz, as well as his kind and compassionate caregivers and therapists, and in particular, Jodi Tompkins and Andy Francis.
Pallbearers will be ranch and cattle working cowboys Cody Talley, Jeff Baranowski, Finley Blackwell, Efford Hamman, Cullen Jurena, Dan Machen, Randal Shelton and Clarence Strait.
Honorary pallbearers include O. R. Borchers, Marion J. Borchers, Don G. Kaspar, Dr. Larry Riedel, Barbara and Tommy Phillips, Josephine Reyes, Pat Espindola and Lisa Baker.
Those who have notably touched his life include Kathleen Carey, Sam Clegg, Joe Cohen, Dr. Jerry Crabtree, John Fossati, Dr. Fred Fry, Elizabeth Greeson, Milton Greeson, Jr., Penni Gietz, Dr. Fred Lykes, Robert (Bobby) Hewitt, Sr., Robert Hewitt, Jr., Morgan O'Connor, The Honorable T. Michael O'Connor, John Welder V and Les Amis and La Dolce Vita Supper Club members.
Visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m., Tuesday, January 17, 2012, at Colonial Funeral Home. Funeral services will be at 2:00 p.m., Wednesday January 18, 2012, at Trinity Episcopal Church with the Rev. Bur Dobbins officiating. Burial will follow in Memorial Park Cemetery.
Memorial remembrances may be made to Victoria Performing Arts Center, Inc., One O'Connor Plaza, Suite 1100, Victoria, Texas 77901 or donor's choice.
Arrangements are with Colonial Funeral Home, Victoria, 361-578-3535.p
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