Bedichek, Roy (1878–1959)

By: Wilson M. Hudson

Type: Biography

Published: 1976

Updated: November 10, 2018

Roy Bedichek, writer and folklorist, was born in Cass County, Illinois, on June 27, 1878, the son of James Madison and Lucretia Ellen (Craven) Bedichek. In 1884 the family moved to Falls County, Texas. Bedichek attended rural schools and Bedichek Academy, established at Eddy by his father. In February 1898 he entered the University of Texas. Soon he began to work in the office of the registrar, John A. Lomax, who became his friend for life. In 1903 he received a B.S. degree and in 1925 an M.A. He was a reporter for the Fort Worth Record (1903–04) and taught in high schools in Houston (1904–05) and San Angelo (1905–08). He served as secretary of the Deming, New Mexico, Chamber of Commerce (1908–13) and edited the Deming Headlight (1910–12). In 1910 he married Lillian Lee Greer; they had three children. In 1913 Bedichek returned to Austin and became secretary of the Young Men's Business League, which later merged with the chamber of commerce. In 1915–16 he was executive secretary of Will C. Hogg's Organization for Promoting Interest in Higher Education in Texas. He served as city editor of the San Antonio Express for a year; then in the fall of 1917 he began work in Austin with the University Interscholastic League, a part of the Bureau of Extension. As director of the league he shaped its policies and made it a success. He ceased direction in 1948 at the age of seventy. In visiting schools over the state he formed the habit of camping out because suitable lodging was often unavailable. Camping stimulated his interest in wildlife, especially in birds. Urged by his close friends, J. Frank Dobie and Walter Prescott Webb, he took a leave of absence for a year beginning in February 1946 and went into seclusion at Friday Mountain Ranch, Webb's retreat southwest of Austin, to write Adventures with a Texas Naturalist (1947), which is included in John H. Jenkins's Basic Texas Books. Karánkaway Country (1950) won the Carr P. Collins Award for the best Texas book of the year, as did Educational Competition: The Story of the University Interscholastic League of Texas (1956). A fourth book, The Sense of Smell (1960), appeared posthumously. Bedichek liked to rise several hours before daybreak and study or write in a separate building beside his home. Every day he worked in his garden, swam, or walked. Without ever having been seriously ill, he died suddenly of heart failure on May 21, 1959. He was an excellent storyteller, a fine conversationalist, and a delightful correspondent.

Roy Bedichek, Letters of Roy Bedichek, ed. William A. Owens and Lyman Grant (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985). Eleanor James, Roy Bedichek (Austin: Steck-Vaughn, 1970). William A. Owens, Three Friends: Roy Bedichek, J. Frank Dobie, Walter Prescott Webb (Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1969). San Antonio Light, July 5, 1959. Saturday Evening Post, October 16, 1948. Texas Observer, June 27, 1959.

  • Education
  • Educators
  • General Education
  • Writers, Authors, Publications, and Literature
  • Literature
  • Historians
  • Nonfiction

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Wilson M. Hudson, “Bedichek, Roy,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 25, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

November 10, 2018