It’s a stretch from his iconic Tudor-style mansion overlooking the Dallas Country Club in Highland Park, but former billionaire Sam Wyly has settled nicely into the luxurious Edgemere retirement community overlooking Thackery Street. Walking around the tight two-bedroom flat, he muttered something about the tough decisions he had to make when considering what to take with him to his new abode.
(ABOVE: Sam Wyly (center) shares his love for geography with children Andrew Wyly and Laura Wyly, who both penned ‘Dallas Got it Right!’ with their father. Photo: Bianca R. Montes)
A statue of Confederate soldier Robert E. Lee sits on the veranda; hundreds of books fill shelving; grandiose painted family portraits fill wall space; and lists, news clippings, and circled magazine articles fill just about every flat space. At his formal dining room table, a marked-up copy of his latest book, Dallas Got it Right! – somewhat of a progression from the 2012 Texas Got it Right! he and his son Andrew Wyly wrote.
While the book highlights much of Dallas’ history, the streetcars that once passed Wyly’s Beverly house; nuggets of information about how the sisters of Texas oil tycoon H.L. Hunt worked switchboards in local offices; and a personal photo of the Jones family from the back-to-back high school state championship last year at AT&T stadium, it’s also a record of how Wyly and many others made their way to Dallas.
It shows that “all roads lead to Dallas,” Wyly said about his choice to include communities outside of the city.
Sam Wyly made his riches with his brother building the arts-and-crafts chain Michaels Stores Inc. and other companies. HE filed for bankruptcy protection in 2014 after the SEC and the IRS accused the Wylys of establishing offshore trusts on the Isle of Man to hide income from being taxed in the U.S.
In both of his “got it right” books, Wyly said he went into the narration thinking that they were about a collection of small towns in America.
“And I grew up in a small town with two stoplights on Highway 80, one bus stop, a railroad stop, and I could walk three blocks to school and four blocks to where my mom and dad worked,” he earnestly said about his hometown and how he found a piece of it in Dallas. “When you think about it, we are just a lot of little towns and a lot of little neighborhoods.”
The book, daughter Laurie Wyly said, is as much a part of her father’s journey to Dallas as it is vignettes of what’s inspired him over the years.
“Dad is just inspired,” she said. “Every day he’s reading the paper or thinking on his own stories, and we’d get on the subject of military, and then he would have all this perspective of the military in the Dallas region. Every day I’d come to work on the book, he’d have some new topic.”
While Sam Wyly agrees the book is a lot of his life, he said it’s not the story of his life.
And, while family anecdotes don’t necessarily have a place in the book, writing it with his children was his highlight, Sam Wyly said.
“They’re all geniuses: They’re all smarter than I am,” he said about his children. “It’s just the most enjoyable and most fun thing I’ve done.”
What Do You Remember?
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