*James Estes*

You may have noticed the recent announcement of the death of James
Estes.  There
was a somewhat lengthy obituary associated with that announcement but it
fails to note most of the real reasons his passing should be mourned by
Texas cavers.

In 1960, the Texas Region of the NSS was faltering.  The *Texas Caver* had
been produced by a loose coalition of Austin Cavers and only two issues (24
pages) had been accomplished for the entire year. Worse, the NSS had
discontinued the internal structure wherein Texas cavers were recognized as
the Texas Region of the NSS.  In some ways, organized Texas caving was in
trouble.  In November 1961, Texas cavers met in convention at Uvalde and
formed the Texas Speleological Association (TSA) as you know it today.  The
first officers were Arthur Carroll, Dudley Roberts, and James Estes who
served two terms (1961-1962) as Secretary –Treasurer.

That’s not the important part.  James also offered to resurrect the *Texas
Caver* and serve as Editor.  James produced an on-time monthly newsletter
every month for the next four years.  Forty-eight issues!  Six hundred and
one pages!  On time!  All this was done with a typewriter and with only
minimal assistance from his fellow cavers in Abilene, Texas.

Texas caving was rejuvenated.  Compared to the sometimes dismal performance
of *Caver* Editors in later years, this is an almost unbelievable

Beyond all this, James was a worker in other ways.  He assisted with many
TSA conventions and projects and was always a willing worker when needed.  He
was the Chairman of the 1964 NSS Convention in New Braunfels.

James was an early member of the Abilene Grotto.  Here’s how that happened.
He was browsing the public library and came across an issue of the *NSS
News* that contained Bart Crisman’s story about an adventure at Ogle Cave.  He
noted that Bart was a resident of Abilene and went knocking on his door.  The
Abilene cavers were a close group but James refused to leave Bart’s home
until he was accepted into the Abilene Grotto.  He remained a staunch
member of that group for as long as it existed.

Yes, James drifted away from caving in later years, but he stands as a
shining example of the sort of leadership and dedication that every
successful organization hopes to be blessed with.

It was my good fortune to count James as my friend for more than 50 years
and to have been caving with him a few times.  His passing leaves a gap
that will not be filled.

We are diminished.

===Carl Kunath

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