When John H. Shary, father of the Texas citrus industry, came to the Rio Grande Valley a century ago, he saw opportunity.
Though Shary passed away in 1945, his commitment to moving the Valley forward continues through a new scholarship being made available to students of The University of Texas-Pan American.
The University of Texas-Pan American Foundation has sold the historic Shary-Shivers Estate and proceeds from the sale will be used to establish a scholarship endowment at UTPA in the name of the Shary Shivers Foundation, set up by Shary's grandchildren.
"The sale of the Shary-Shivers Estate is a bittersweet one for UT Pan American," said UTPA President Robert S. Nelsen. "For 15 years the University, the Foundation and the International Women's Board have enjoyed being connected to this important piece of the Valley's history. While we would have loved for the Shary-Shivers Estate to remain a part of UT Pan American, we agreed that it was in the best interest of all parties involved for the Foundation to sell the property. And by doing so, we will be able to invest in future leaders, our students, who will continue moving the Valley forward."
The estate includes a nearly 17,000-square-foot, two-story home, as well as a 3-acre lake and other structures on 12.57 acres on the west side of Shary Road.
Shary built the home in 1917 - five years after moving to the Valley - which includes seven bedrooms, a ballroom and a bowling alley. President Dwight D. Eisenhower stayed at the Shary home when he came to dedicate the Falcon Dam in 1953. Other famous houseguests included war correspondent Ernie Pyle and author and lecturer Dale Carnegie.
The Sharys' only daughter, Marialice, had her wedding there in 1937 to Allan Shivers, who later served as governor of Texas from 1949-1957. Marialice Shary Shivers served on the Pan American University Board of Regents from 1965-1978.
The Shary-Shivers Estate was donated to The University of Texas-Pan American Foundation in 1997. While in the Foundation's custody, the estate was used for numerous social functions and fundraising events by the University, as well as for regular meetings by the International Women's Board.
Jaime Ramon, chair of The University of Texas-Pan American Foundation Board of Trustees, said the sale will benefit the University immensely because the estate has become very expensive to maintain and the money from the sale will go to help students pay for their education.
"It is our belief that (the new owner) will maintain the estate pretty much as it is now, with minimal changes," Ramon said. "I believe his development plans maintain the integrity of the estate and its historical perspective."
Michael J. Blum, partner and managing broker at NAI Rio Grande Valley, represented the Foundation in the sale. He said he was honored to assist the Foundation in finding a new owner for the property who appreciates and cherishes its history as much as the Foundation and University do.
"This sale was very important for the Foundation and University because now they can provide more students with a quality education through the scholarships that will be created from this transaction," Blum said. "It is a tremendous opportunity that will help students pay for their college expenses and graduate in a timely manner."
For more information on the Shary Shivers Foundation scholarship endowment or to start a scholarship fund, contact the University's Office of Development at (956) 665-5301.