Obituary of the Day: Billie Sol Estes

New York Times obituaries editor, Bill McDonald, discusses one person's life featured on today's obit page. Today: Texas con man Billie Sol Estes.


From the Obituary of Billie Sol Estes

The rise and fall of Billie Sol Estes was one of the sensations of the postwar era: the saga of a good-ol’-boy con man who created a $150 million empire of real and illusory farming enterprises that capitalized on his contacts in Washington and the gullibility and greed of farmers, banks and agriculture businesses.

He was a Bible-thumping preacher who gave barbecues for governors and senators, rode his bike to work in Pecos, Tex., and his airplane to Washington, and was named one of America’s 10 outstanding young men of 1953 by the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce. Later, autographed photos of John F. Kennedy, Harry S. Truman, Lyndon B. Johnson and others lined his walls.

-- Read the full obituary here.