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Beaumont to Cordillera Ranch, with a lot in between

By Cheryl Van Tuyl Jividen  ::  Photography by Mark Humphries

As many Cordillera Ranch residents often say, Warren and Lettie Goehringer wished they would have made their move a lot sooner. After raising their family and working in Beaumont for 55 years, all the while traveling the world and enjoying an active and social lifestyle, the couple landed in Cordillera Ranch in 2013, and haven’t sat still since.

Lettie is a third generation Beaumont native, with parents and grandparents figuring very prominently in the community. Warren grew up in the Alamo Heights and Terrell Hills areas of San Antonio. He went through school at Alamo Heights where he was the first graduating class of the new Alamo Heights High School on Broadway in 1951.

After high school, Warren went to the University of Texas and graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1956. Several companies were interviewing for engineers at that time, and Warren joined a sales organization representing The Babcock & Wilcox Co. and The Worthington Corporation for the oil and chemical industries in southeast Texas. The company A.M. Lockett sent him to Beaumont where he met, fell in love and married Lettie.

Cupid stepped in at a house party where Lettie was on a date with someone else. While helping in the kitchen and over a pot of beans, she met Warren, and that was the start of their love story. She went to UT herself, but after two years she returned to Beaumont. Lettie says with a laugh, “I wanted to come home. I missed him and didn’t want him to meet anyone else!” He didn’t. The couple were married on September 21, 1957.

In 1961, A.M. Lockett was going to transfer the couple to their main office in New Orleans, and that was when Lettie’s dad offered him a job in his concrete business in Beaumont. Warren jokes, “I’m not sure how much Lettie’s dad wanted me in the business, but I’m sure her mom was not excited about her daughter and her two grandchildren leaving Beaumont!”

At any rate, things worked out well all around, and when they sold the family business to a New York Stock Exchange company in the early 1990s, Warren stayed on with the new owners (without much to do!) until 2000 when he officially retired.

Following his father-in-law’s interests of being active in the state and national concrete industry’s trade associations, Warren served as chairman of the National Ready Mix Concrete Association (NRMCA) in 1994. Because of that relationship, the couple traveled extensively all over the world with other business associates. In 1981, early in his NRMCA involvement, Warren and Lettie were included in an exciting opportunity to be a part of one of the first groups to visit mainland China. This was at the invitation of the Chinese Construction Industry, and although their group was made to feel welcome in China, their accommodations left much to be desired — old and without heat in February! The exception was their time in Beijing, where the group stayed at the Angler’s Rest Guest House (where President Nixon stayed during his visit). The couple returned to China 25 years later and marveled at the dramatic changes that had occurred.

While Warren was busy with the family company and his association work, Lettie devoted herself to keeping their home and raising their son Charlie and daughter Sara. She taught nursery school for a while and became a partner in a catering service called “The Happy Cookers.” Charlie, a contract law attorney, and his wife Cynthia live in Beaumont and have two children — daughter Marti and son Sosh. Sara, a medical doctor, and her husband Zach live in Austin and have two adult daughters Claire and Emily, and a son John Michael who is still in college at Rice University. The couple enjoy being able to visit their children and grandchildren and make trips to Austin and Beaumont often.

Their love of travel has become a family affair with four family trips to Atlantis in the Bahamas, the Galapagos Islands, Iceland and Costa Rica. Lettie says, “We introduced our children and grandchildren to travel believing that it is good to know other cultures and people, and it makes one thankful for our home and the privileges we have here.”

There have also been very special “girls’ trips” with their three granddaughters (two sisters and a cousin), hosted by Lettie, “Gigi” and Warren, “Papa.” “We’ve loved making memories with them on trips to Paris, Chicago, Las Vegas, Montreal, San Francisco, Galveston and Santa Fe,” she says. Warren notes, “Our travel has taken us all over the world, to every continent and most countries. We feel very fortunate to have done this.”

After the family was reared, and over the years, the couple started to assess life in their little town. “It was a wonderful place to raise a family,” says Lettie. But, says Warren, the need to go to the big city of Houston was too frequent, “All the big stores and the variety of good restaurants were there.” In addition, the active couple felt life might get too sedentary. “It was likely we’d get set in our ways and in our chairs. Sitting there wasn’t going to be good for us,” says Lettie. And after 55 years as a resident, Warren had had enough of the Beaumont climate. “The weather and the storms were too much. The humidity was a daily issue; we’d have condensation on our windows most mornings, and mosquitos waiting for us outside the rest of the day.”

As they craved something different in every possible way, they decided to make an unannounced visit to their Houston friends Larry and Melba Ainsworth who had spoken highly of their home in Cordillera Ranch. But to the Goehringer’s disappointment, the Ainsworths weren’t home! Cordillera Ranch Realty stepped in and gave them a half-day tour of the ranch. Since they were living in a garden home in Beaumont, the Di Lusso Villas seemed like the perfect fit for the couple. They liked what they saw and purchased a lot in 2012.

Warren recalls the process, “Before our house was ever started, we were visited by Debbie Pepper, the Membership Director for Cordillera Ranch, who explained all there was to do and how glad the folks who already called this home would be to get us involved. And she wasn’t wrong! Next we had to try out the golf course to see if we could even think about bringing our clubs from the peat lands of southeast Texas to Cordillera. Barry and Kathy Denton were our guides and they gave us one of the most ‘expensive’ lessons we’ve ever gotten. We bought the lot, paid down on the house construction and joined The Club all at the same time! And the Dentons have remained close friends of ours ever since.”

But saying goodbye to friends and the community back home went unexpectedly. “They had a fit,” says Lettie when they announced they were building a home and moving to the Texas Hill Country in Cordillera Ranch. “They said, ‘You’ll miss us, and you won’t find any friends!’” They even asked how the couple could consider relocating at their age.

In 2013 they moved into their Cordillera Ranch home and experienced the opposite of all those misplaced concerns. “You can’t believe how welcoming and nice everyone was,” says Lettie, who credits Carla Northington for setting the appealing tone of the community. Warren agrees, “We love it here in Cordillera Ranch because it is so all-inclusive — it fills our needs and has broadened our interests. We’ve made so many friends. We’re all enjoying each other. Truth is, we don’t have time to sit!” Lettie likes to refer to ranch living as the “Cordillera Cruise Ship.” Warren advises, “If you aren’t doing anything, it’s your own fault. There are so many activities!”

There certainly is a lot to do. Warren has a standing golf date twice a week and both use the equipment at the Fitness Center regularly. “The Fitness Center here is a big part of our lives. As we did in Beaumont, we try to go at least three times a week even though our doctors suggest five or six. Mostly, we just do our own thing, but sometimes we get our trainer Ann-Kristin Allen to help,” says Warren.

Lettie participates in some Bible Studies and the couple belong to First United Methodist Church in Boerne. For the last four years, Lettie has tutored a child in their church’s After School Program as a volunteer once a week, while Warren has helped at Boerne’s Hill Country Daily Bread. Then there are the many clubs on the ranch: Lettie, a Master Gardener, and Warren with his green thumb, enjoy the community’s Garden Club and Nature Club, as well as the Book Club, the Cooking Club and the very favorite Wine Club. Soon after their arrival to Cordillera, they learned of a scheduled wine trip to California. Lettie explains how it was one of the best things that could have happened, “Debbie mentioned to us that a couple had to drop out of the planned Cordillera wine trip and we got to take their place. We had so much fun that now we’ve been on all of Debbie’s trips and we’re signed up for her fifth one next year to Oregon.”

The couple just celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary with friends and family at a dinner party at The Club. After reading about the great explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton in the book Endurance, in true Goehringer fashion, they’ll mark their special occasion with a National Geographic trip to Antarctica this fall.