From Childhood Tragedy, a Business Giant's Love of Art

Philanthropist Gerald Haddock with the painting that would change his life: Son of the Sea by Stanhope Forbes.
Star-Telegram/Paul Mosley

Floyd Haddock was crippled by polio as a boy and spent the next half-century proving he was the equal of any person with two healthy legs. As a young man, he bought several heavily forested acres on Caddo Lake in East Texas, cleared the land and built what would become one of the state’s most popular fishing resorts.

Floyd Haddock, in the office of his East Texas fishing camp.
Family photo

In the process, he became a larger-than-life figure to his youngest son, Gerald.


“How does a man with polio build something like that out of the wilderness?” Gerald Haddock wondered recently. “He cut the trees and had a successful business. … He convinced me that I could do whatever I set my mind to do.”


The son spoke of the father a few weeks ago at his Fort Worth mansion, built on a bluff overlooking Eagle Mountain Lake. From that rustic childhood in East Texas, Gerald Haddock went on to a successful career as a lawyer — he was general counsel of the Texas Rangers baseball team in the 1990s — a businessman who made a fortune in real estate and investments, and a philanthropist.

But on that day, Floyd Haddock, not business, was on Gerald Haddock’s mind as he showed off a most unusual collection of world-class art. For the son, there is a deep and abiding connection between the two.


Outside it was a cold, gray afternoon and a stiff north wind roiled whitecaps on the water below.


“It was a day a lot like this one,” Gerald Haddock said.


On Dec. 3, 1956, he was 9. Young Gerald and his mother had attended a Christmas parade in nearby Marshall. On the 20-mile drive home they were passed by emergency vehicles, speeding toward the fishing camp with sirens blaring.


“My mother and I both were scared,” Gerald Haddock said.


An acquired appreciation


Education was paramount to his parents, so Gerald Haddock went from Caddo Lake to Baylor in Waco, earning degrees in accounting and law. He added a Master of Laws from New York University, then landed a job with the prestigious Houston firm Fulbright and Jaworski.


Haddock was still in his 20s when he was picked to head a legal team representing Houston socialite and art collector Cecil Furstenberg, then in a battle with the Internal Revenue Service. Furstenberg had donated a painting from her collection, by the famed French artist Jean Baptiste Camille Corot, to the University of Houston. Her appraisers valued it at $250,000. Art experts at the IRS said it was worth only $60,000.


The dispute landed in federal court in New York City. During weeks of testimony in late 1977, Haddock called some of the nation’s top art experts as witnesses. In 1978, the court appraised the Corot painting at $160,000, a big victory for the young lawyer.


But the case had much deeper meaning for Haddock. It was an intensive primer in art appreciation for the boy from Caddo Lake. Haddock was taught to look for fine details in paintings he was oblivious to before. When looking at a picture, he now saw new layers of meaning and emotion.


“The light came on and made me want to know more,” he said.


For much of the next two decades, Haddock carved out time on his travels to visit the world’s great museums and galleries.


“I’d find myself in New York and go to one of those old classic bookstores on 57th and Fifth and hide out for a day, looking at those old art books,” he said. “I knew from the beginning that the passion would take me somewhere. I had no idea where.”


The answer came in the spring of 1997. During a visit to a showcase home in one of his real estate projects, the exclusive Mira Vista development in Fort Worth, interior decorator Pam Flowers said she had a surprise. She led Haddock to a stairwell.


On the wall was an original 1910 painting by the British artist Stanhope Forbes.


The picture was called Son of the Sea, depicting an old woman sitting in shadow with her hand on the shoulder of a boy. The boy holds a toy ship and looks intently at the woman. Behind them a fishing village and the ocean beyond are bathed in brilliant sunlight.


From his decades of study, Haddock knew immediately it was art of the highest order. But his reaction to the piece went far deeper.


“The boy was listening with such a strong feeling that she had to be telling him about a father who had perished in the water,” Haddock remembered recently. “But she wasn’t running away from it. She’s saying, ‘I want you to do exactly what your father did. It’s dangerous, but we love it, and we enjoy the life that’s given us.’”


A revelation


On that cold December day in 1956, Floyd Haddock and one of his young fishing guides had gone duck hunting on Caddo Lake in a small boat. Authorities later speculated that Floyd fell out while shooting and his companion had gone in after him. The water was frigid. Both were found dead, floating near the boat.


“It was devastating,” Haddock said, his voice catching. “It still is. You feel shortchanged. I had so much respect for him because of who he was and how hard he had worked. To lose that at such an early age …”


So Gerald Haddock was that boy in the painting. That day in the house at Mira Vista, the love and tragedy of his childhood coalesced with his adult passion for art.


“It was a magical moment. There was so much about it I connected with,” said Haddock, now 65 and the father of two grown sons and a daughter. “Obviously it evoked memories of my dad. You feel the poignance, the serious nostalgia. Then, all of a sudden, a calm comes over you because of the art, the beauty. … It carries you to calm, serene and enjoyable moments.”


Haddock bought Son of the Sea, nearly on the spot, for $60,000. But that was just the beginning.


"Why did I build this collection? Because I was attached to it," Gerald Haddock says. "It evokes an emotional feeling. This particular genre is of the beauty of the ordinary people, the beauty of a simple way of life."
Star-Telegram/Paul Mosley

‘The human condition’

Stanhope Forbes is known as the father of the Newlyn School of British painters, named for a tiny fishing village in Cornwall, on the southwestern tip of England. The colony of artists, painting at the turn of the 20th century, were also known as the British impressionists. They had indeed been greatly influenced by French painters of the same era. The methods of applying paint to canvas and the use of light were similar on each side of the English Channel.

But the Newlyn painters were also inspired by the lesser-known French painter Jules Bastien-Lepage, who, unlike the French impressionists, used working-class people and their lives as the subjects of his paintings.

“The Newlyn School painters weren’t interested in being commissioned to paint portraits of the wealthy and important people, and they weren’t painting subjects of ancient Roman history,” said Malcolm Warner, former curator of the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth and an expert on British art. “They were interested in the ordinary scenes of working life in their own time.

“They’re not exactly like Monet or Renoir,” Warner said. “The sympathy they express for the working poor is so powerful, and it adds such a human dimension to the art.”

Which is what caused Gerald Haddock to buy more than one painting. Over the next three years, he would purchase nine more by Forbes and another by fellow Newlyn School artist George Clausen. All of them depicted working-class people and scenes from their lives, many of which took place in or near the remote fishing village.

“Why did I build this collection? Because I was attached to it,” Haddock said. “It evokes an emotional feeling. This particular genre is of the beauty of ordinary people, the beauty of a simple way of life. I got away from the simple way of life in business. It got very complicated. I wouldn’t trade anything for doing that, but that didn’t change my appreciation for this collection.

“It’s a reflection on the human condition, the beauty, the hard work,” he continued. “When I think about my dad, he was crippled and working in a fishing camp, yet I knew he was happy, satisfied every day. I see that in this art.”

Haddock and his wife, Diane, soon visited Cornwall.

“The Newlyn School paintings have a sort of emphatic quality, a sort of moral dimension to them, so the collectors tend to be lovely people, and Gerald and Diane certainly fall into that category,” said Alison Bevan, director of the Penlee House Gallery and Museum in Cornwall. “They asked if we could arrange for them to see some of the places where they painted. It was a wonderful day, standing in the footsteps of the artists.”

At dinner during their visit, a waitress overheard Bevan and the Haddocks discussing the Newlyn painters. The waitress said her grandfather had been one of their models.

“It turns out he was in one of my paintings,” Haddock said. “That was pretty special.”

Bevan came to Fort Worth a few years later to help christen the Haddock collection, now displayed at the lakeside mansion that has been turned into a gallery, the Haddock Center. The center is home to what is probably the finest private collection of Newlyn School works in the United States.

“They’re very well-known in England but almost totally unknown elsewhere,” Warner said. “That’s why Gerald Haddock is so amazing. He has such a passion for such an unusual thing among American collectors. There are thousands of American collectors, and he is probably the only one to have homed in on the Newlyn School.

“The best collectors work that way,” Warner said. “They don’t just collect trophies. They don’t collect to show off. They collect because they have deep feelings for the art.”

‘A collection that people can enjoy’

Two pieces are particularly coveted. One is Son of the Sea.

The other is a painting that Haddock came across while browsing through an art book. The picture,Charity by Walter Langley, is of a beggar boy invited in to eat by a mother and daughter, who look on with sympathy. In his book What Is Art?, the legendary Russian writer Leo Tolstoy celebrates the Langley painting and the emotions it evokes.

“This picture by an artist who, I think, is not widely known, is an admirable and true work of art,” Tolstoy wrote.

Haddock immediately wanted to buy it, contacting Dallas art dealer David Dike to help track it down. Dike said Haddock need not look far.

The work was hanging in a house in Fort Worth and had been part of a divorce settlement. It took Haddock several visits to convince the owner that he would give the painting a good home.

“You know, this painting needs to be among its brothers and sisters,” he told the owner. “She said, ‘Well, what do you intend to do with all this?’ I said, ‘I want this to be a collection that people can enjoy. That’s the ultimate goal.’”

There is now talk in England of his paintings being part of a major Newlyn School exhibition.

“The Penlee House has been hoping to put our collection and Gerald’s in a proper exhibition of the Newlyn School,” Bevan said. “The Royal Academy of Arts is very interested in doing a survey show. There is huge potential for that to happen.”

Standing in front of Charity on a recent day at the lake, Haddock spoke of his own plans, still in the early phases, of sharing his art with the world.

“Tolstoy basically says that fine art needs to be more than beautiful. It needs to evoke feeling,” Haddock said. “We still have the same human condition. We need to make this available to everybody.”

He moved a few steps away to Son of the Sea. Whenever he looks at it, he said, thoughts of his father and his simple upbringing are never far away.

“He would have absolutely loved this,” said Floyd Haddock’s son. “It was part of his life. He would see a different lake, a different time, but the same type of people.”

Tim Madigan, 817-390-7544 Twitter: @tsmadigan

Personal Profile


Gerald Haddock attended Baylor University in Waco, Texas. While working toward his bachelor’s degree, Mr. Haddock was an active member of the Baylor student body. In his four years at Baylor, Mr. Haddock served at various times as the President, Secretary, and Rush Chairman of Alpha Kappa Psi, which was the premier business and social fraternity at Baylor. Mr. Haddock was also a member of Beta Alpha Psi (The International Honorary Organization for Accounting Professionals); a member of The International Honor Society Beta Gamma Sigma Recognizing Business Excellence; and Student President of Baylor Hankamer School of Business. Mr. Haddock completed his Bachelors of Business Administration at Baylor University in 1969. Even while attending Baylor, Mr. Haddock continued to make deals and pursue business opportunities. For example, after his freshman year of college he put together a partnership that developed a golf driving range back in his hometown of Marshall, Texas.

 

After earning his BA, Mr. Haddock immediately enrolled in the Baylor University School of Law. Along with his demanding law school courses, Mr. Haddock participated in extracurricular academic activities and received significant awards for his academic achievements. He was the Articles Editor of the prestigious Baylor Law Review. He was named the Outstanding Student in Practice Court. Additionally, he was a member of the Baylor Law School Student Supreme Court and a member of Phi Alpha Delta, an international co-ed legal fraternity. In 1971, Mr. Haddock graduated from Baylor University School of Law cum laude with his Juris Doctorate degree.

 

Mr. Haddock was awarded a scholarship to attend New York University School of Law to pursue his Master of Laws in Taxation. Here, he was the Graduate Editor of the New York University Tax Law Review. He graduated in 1972 with his LL.M. in Taxation.

Upon graduation, Mr. Haddock accepted an associate position at the Houston law office of Fulbright & Jaworski, LLP. There, he enhanced his knowledge and skills in tax law and quickly rose through the ranks of the firm, making partner in just seven years.

 

Along with his demanding workload at the firm as a new associate, Gerald Haddock continued his involvement with his alma mater, Baylor University. For five years he served as Director of the Baylor Alumni Association and continues his involvement as a lifetime member of the Baylor Alumni Association. He also served, over the course of five years, as the President, Vice President, and Secretary of the Houston Baylor Club. Additionally, Mr. Haddock was a member of the Dean’s Advisory Board for Baylor Law School from 1975-1978.

 

In 1980, Mr. Haddock began expanding his career goals. He accepted a position at Consolidated Petroleum Industries, Inc. as the Vice President of Legal and Tax Matters. This move allowed him to combine his expertise in tax law with his business background. Additionally, while working for Consolidated Petroleum, Mr. Haddock served as Chair of the Taxation Section of the Texas Bar from 1981 to 1982.

 

Gerald Haddock left Consolidated Petroleum in 1982 in order to pursue various business ventures. Then, in 1984, Mr. Haddock joined Kelly, Hart, & Hallman, PC, a Fort Worth law firm. From 1984 to 1990, Mr. Haddock was a Shareholder, Director, and Head of Taxation Section at the firm. During this time, Mr. Haddock served as the Advisory Board Director for the Baylor Hankamer School of Business. It was during his time at Kelly, Hart & Hallman that Gerald Haddock met and began working with his future business partner.

Gerald Haddock, as a member of Kelly, Hart & Hallman, served as lead transactional attorney and chief negotiator on many significant deals. However, for many of these projects, Mr. Haddock’s involvement continued after the completion of the deal. He became directly involved with many of the companies, specifically, ENSCO International, PLC,  the Texas Rangers Baseball Club, and AmeriCredit Corporation, Inc. Mr. Haddock was a founding director of ENSCO in 1986. He has served on the Board of Directors as a Director and the Chairperson of the Audit Committee since 1986. A lifetime fan of baseball, Mr. Haddock happily became an investor in the Texas Rangers Baseball Club (along with then Governor George W. Bush), and served as the Club’s general counsel from 1989 until 1998. He also served as a Director on the board for AmeriCredit Corporation.


In 1990, Mr. Haddock moved his law practice from Kelly, Hart & Hallman to Jackson Walker, LLP as a partner. Shortly thereafter, he became the Chairman of the Policy Committee at the firm.  In 1994, he left Jackson Walker to become President and COO of a newly developed real estate company.

The Dallas based real estate company was one of the largest publicly held real estate investment trusts in the United States. There, Mr. Haddock served as President and Chief Operating Officer from 1994 to 1996, and served as President and Chief Executive Officer from 1996 to 1999.  He also served as director and trust manager during his entire tenure at the company.  Mr. Haddock received the “Outstanding CEO of the Year Award” from Realty Stock Review for three years in a row – 1996 through 1998.  In addition, he was named the “REIT Executive of the Year” in 1998 by Commercial Property News.  In addition to his roles at the company, Mr. Haddock continued his participation in corporate governance by serving on the Board of Directors of AmeriCredit Corporation.


Richard Rainwater recorded this tribute to Mr. Haddock on the occasion of his birthday to thank him for his service.
 

In 1999, Gerald Haddock left the real estate company to pursue entrepreneurial business developments.  In 2000, he founded Haddock Enterprises, LLC and has served as its President since that time.  Haddock Enterprises, dba Haddock Investments, focuses on investments in real estate and oil and gas.  Haddock Enterprises established a real estate development arm that has been actively engaged in retail real estate development. 

 

Mr. Haddock’s decision to form his own company gave him the freedom to explore and pursue business opportunities in connection with his philanthropic interests. A lifetime appreciation of baseball and sports inspired him to create The Haddock Foundation. The purpose of the Foundation is to foster national and international sports competition. The Haddock Foundation serves as a general partner in the Texas Collegiate League, Ltd. (previously known as Texas Collegiate Baseball League), a summer wood-bat league for talented college players seeking professional careers.  Mr. Haddock gave new life to his passion for baseball by co-founding the Texas Collegiate League, which played its inaugural season in the summer of 2004 with eight teams in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  The Texas Collegiate League enjoyed incredible success in its inaugural year, including a summer-long television program on Fox Sports Net Southwest. Recently, The Haddock Foundation licensed the league, but remains involved through active oversight of the licenses and promotion of the licensed teams. Texas Collegiate League is currently pursuing expansion into other markets in Texas and Louisiana.

 

Mr. Haddock’s philanthropic pursuits continued with the foundation of The Haddock Center. In 2005, Gerald Haddock founded The Haddock Center, a non-profit corporation dedicated to promoting art, education, and scholarship in the Fort Worth Community. The Center focuses on the preservation, study, and analysis of the paintings of Stanhope Forbes.  The Haddock Center works with the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth as well as local educational institutions to provide access to this large, privately held collection of Forbes paintings outside of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Haddock has remained involved in the legal community. Since 2010, he has been involved with the CEELI Institute, a not-for profit, international provider of post-graduate, professional legal education headquartered in Prague. The Institute’s mission is to develop an international, professional community of reformers committed to the rule of law. Through innovative training programs and other activities, the Institute works with judges and legal reformers in countries in transition to support the continuing development of market economies and democratic institutions, in addition to building a respect for human rights. Mr. Haddock is currently a member of the International Advisory Board as well as Director of the Friends of the CEELI Institute based out of Washington DC.

 

In addition to his involvement with The Haddock Foundation, The Haddock Center, the CEELI Institute, and the Baylor University System, Mr. Haddock serves on the Board of Trustees for the M.D. Anderson Proton Therapy Education and Research Foundation.

 

Gerald Haddock and his wife, Judge Diane Haddock, live in Fort Worth, Texas. Together they have three children and five granddaughters.

In 1989 Gerald Haddock became a part owner and the general counsel of the Texas Rangers baseball club. During the negations for the sale of the team, Mr. Haddock met former President George W. Bush. Working together on this deal, the President and Mr. Haddock formed a friendship based on trust and mutual respect that continues on today.

 

For Gerald Haddock’s 50th birthday, President Bush made a video remarking on his relationship with Mr. Haddock over the years. When asked about Mr. Haddock, President Bush says, “You can count on him as a friend.”

 

On April 25, 2013 Gerald Haddock will attend the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center. The friendship and support that began more than twenty years ago remains.

 

Below is the video from President Bush to Gerald on his 50th birthday.