Hester, Richard Arthur (1888–1983)

By: Bailey Haeussler

Type: Biography

Published: May 15, 2013

Richard Arthur Hester, African-American fraternal leader, son of Sarah Hester, was born on September 22, 1888, in Flint, Smith County, Texas. Apparently his father died when Richard was a small child, and he moved to Brownwood, Texas, with his mother and grandparents. The 1900 census lists Richard and a brother, Frederick, living with their mother Sarah in the household of Solomon and Fannie Hester—Sarah’s parents. Hester attended school in Brownwood. He later attended Paul Quinn College in Waco. He married Esther Hazel Caldwell in 1907. They had one son, Walter Odgen Hester (born August 23, 1909). City directories listed the Hesters as residents of Brownwood into the early 1930s, and Richard was employed at a jewelry company.

Hester devoted much of his life to service with the Knights of Pythias, a national fraternal organization. About 1908 he went to work for the order, and in 1940 he was elected grand chancellor for the Grand Lodge of Texas. The family may have moved to Dallas by this time. As grand chancellor, Hester was instrumental in the construction of a two-story office building to serve as an administrative center for the organization in Dallas. He also helped found the Knights of Pythias Federal Credit Union. In 1947 Hester was elected supreme chancellor of the Knights of Pythias of North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia, an office he held until his death. After Hester’s retirement from grand chancellor in 1982, he was named grand chancellor emeritus.

Hester was very active in the civic and business affairs of Dallas. In 1966 he played a key role in the construction of a seventy-eight unit senior citizen apartment complex. He was elected to the board of directors of Texas Commerce Bank in Dallas in 1975. He also served on the board of directors of Bishop College for four years. His numerous memberships included service in the Boy Scouts of America, Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce, NAACP, Opportunities Industrialization Center of America, Dallas Minority Business Center (where he served as chairman), Moorland branch YMCA (past president), and the Progressive Voters League (where he served as treasurer). Hester was also a member of St. Paul AME Church.

Over the years, Hester received many awards for his community service. The U. S. Treasury Department awarded him a service citation for an In-War Bond Sales Drive during which he traveled throughout the world selling war bonds. He was honored with the Estell Award for leadership and humanitarianism from St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas, the Silver Beaver Medal from the Boy Scouts, the NAACP Pioneer Award, the Sun Mutual Award for Business Achievement, the Interdenominational Ministers Alliance Award, Dallas Express and Informer Man of the Year Award, as well as a certificate of appreciation from Pythian Court No. 52 Order Courts of Calanthe. In 1978 Hester received an honorary doctorate of law from Bishop College, and he served on their board of trustees.

After the death of Hester’s first wife, Ester, on November 23, 1977, he married Bobbie M. McDonald in Dallas on December 31, 1978. Richard A. Hester died on May 12, 1983, in Dallas. His body was laid to rest at Laurel Land Memorial Park.

Dallas Morning News, May 15, 1983. Sadye Gee, comp., Darnell Williams, ed., Black Presence in Dallas: Historic Black Dallasites (Dallas: Museum of African American Life and Culture, 1988?).

  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Activists
  • Civic Leaders
  • North Texas
  • Dallas/Fort Worth Region
  • Dallas

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

Bailey Haeussler, “Hester, Richard Arthur,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 27, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/hester-richard-arthur.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 15, 2013

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