Maribeth Koch reads excerpts from a letter written by her cousin Jack Bridges back in 1994. He s the man who created Big Tex from what once was a Santa Claus statue.

Little did I know in 1952 when I created the Big Tex statue, that he would still be standing at the State Fair today ... we originally planned to put him up for one year, Koch read. As a result, Big Tex has come back every year.

For 60 years, Big Tex would greet, welcome and wave to patrons at the State Fair of Texas. He did this up until Friday when a fire claimed the icon.

My heart is just broken, said Judith Wolf, a cousin of Jack Bridges. Her family had a kinfolk connection to the creation of the 52-foot-tall cowboy.

To know that our family had a part in creating him, it breaks your heart, said Heather West.

She, too, was kin to Jack Bridges... and Big Tex.

I feel such an empty spot in my heart for my cousin, Big Tex, Wolf said.

For generations, Big Tex was present in the history of Bridges' family and home.

We'd go over to Jack's house, and Big Tex would be out in his garage, with his head here... and his hands here... and his boots standing over here, Judith Wolf reminisced.

Part of you wants to say this is silly, because it's just a statue, West said.

But to this family, it s not.

The outpouring of love where Big Tex once stood shows he was more than denim, metal and fiberglass. Big Tex was family.

In 1994, Jack Bridges wrote that Big Tex belongs to the children, and turned to math to make his point.

Add great imagination to the world. Subtract small thinking. Multiply your resourcefulness. Divide your problems into workable solutions, he wrote. This is what the spirit of Big Tex is about.


Read or Share this story: