By Kevin Thompson :: Photography by Mark Humphries
Seven-year-old Samantha Murray gazed northward off the back porch of the Cordillera Ranch Clubhouse. “I can see the ocean from here!” she told her dad, Ron, a San Diego native. The sun was setting on a mild February evening. A soft haze hung over the smooth hills of the Texas Hill Country. Indeed, the horizon resembled a rolling sea. It took a child to notice.
Oceanfront property is not yet an amenity of Cordillera Ranch. Nevertheless, residents Dawn and Ron Murray traded California’s coastal views for Cordillera’s family-friendly feel four years ago. They also traded crowds, traffic and a state income tax. “We got a 13 percent raise when we moved here!” Ron noted.
The Murrays’ 14-year-old son Connor, didn’t mind the move. The high school freshman plays trumpet in the Boerne High band and ventures to NASA’s space camp each summer. “I like it better here,” Connor said. “We can own guns.”
Connor and his sophomore brother Parker, 15, frequent the Cordillera Ranch Rod & Gun Club to shoot clays and rifle targets. Also a space camp regular, Parker is active in Boerne High’s Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps.
Connor and Parker are known as “The Boys” by their two younger siblings, Samantha (“Sami” for short) and Tyler, 8. The junior two are affectionately referred to as “The Babies” by their older brothers.
The Boys enjoy Cordillera’s Outdoor Pursuits camp each summer, which includes swimming hole trips, tubing and cave adventures, ropes courses and a day at Schlitterbahn® Waterpark.
The Babies, both students at Cibolo Creek Elementary, have attended Cordillera’s horse, nature, swim, golf and tennis camps the last few summers. They plan to return again this year.
Sami and Tyler had just finished a tennis lesson the night I met the Murrays for dinner at The Club. “Tennis was hard work,” Sami disclosed. “It was not hard at all,” clarified Tyler.
Tyler’s favorite Cordillera summer camp is Harry Potter® Camp where participants engage in Wizards chess, Horcrux hunts and Tri-wizard tournaments. “Last year, I found the perfect stick for my wand!” Tyler remembered, proving that little things can bring happiness in Cordillera Ranch. Of course, so can big things.
“I caught the biggest fish in Cordillera Ranch! Tyler helped me reel it in,” the third grader said referring to a namesake camp counselor.
Horse Camp is Sami’s favorite. Bella is her favorite horse. “It’s a girl,” she said. “I like to braid her hair.”
Life on the Ranch offers a certain simplicity to balance the Murrays’ complex work life. When Ron and Dawn founded their technology consulting firm, Cutek, in 2006, they knew travel would be part of the equation. Ron is often on the road serving clients.
“With all of Ron’s travel, we wanted to be able to do things close to home without the need to drive an hour just to go golfing, shooting, fishing or floating down the river,” Dawn explained. “With limited time at home on weekends, the amenities of the Ranch were prime in our decision process.”
Today, Cutek has 23 employees and offices in Boerne and Murrieta, CA. The company helps credit unions and other financial institutions with their accounting software systems. Ron serves as chief executive officer. Dawn oversees business development.
“Cutek is a small, nimble company that can serve its clients in the ways best for them,” Ron described. “We give good service and have great relationships with our clients. When you do that, problems and issues become much smaller. Relationship and reputation are everything in our business.”
The Murrays’ business principles align with their parenting philosophy, which Dawn summarized this way:
“The number one thing we try to teach our kids is to always try your hardest at everything you do. Kids today seem to have fewer expectations placed on them. There is absolutely a direct correlation between effort and positive results and enjoyment. Success is the result you try for, but maximum effort is a requirement.”
I could tell quickly the Murrays give maximum effort to developing decorum in their children. Both high schoolers consistently responded with “yes, sirs” and “no, sirs.”
“With so many forces intent on erasing the importance of good manners, it is a constant battle, but we feel good manners are as important as anything
in life,” Dawn said. “They show respect for yourself and others. Manners — good or bad — say a lot about a person. People might not say it, but they definitely notice.”
As in most families, manners get applied loosely in sibling matters.
“What do your siblings do that gets on your nerves?” I asked.
“Everything,” Connor said.
“The Babies get home from school before we do,” Parker explained. “They take our stuff. Tyler took $5 from me once.”
“That’s not much!” Tyler reasoned.
“How do you like being the only girl?” I asked Sami.
“Not that good,” she offered with a touch of resignation.
“But you have the biggest room!” Parker argued with teenage logic.
Cordillera’s ample room drew Dawn to the Ranch. “In California, we were on a postage stamp lot,” Dawn said. “When we came here, we wanted to have neighbors. We just didn’t want to hear them doing their dishes.”
From the Murrays’ six acres on Falcon Crest near Cordillera’s northwest gate, Ron can see the stars without much light pollution. His observatory is unique to the neighborhood despite the presence of a famous stargazer, professional golfer Jimmy Walker. “Jimmy wanted a full dome like mine, but they wouldn’t let him because he’s on the golf course,” Ron explained in a spirit of friendly competition. “His has a roll-off roof.”
The Murray kids enjoy a backyard game of flashlight “manhunt,” BB gun target practice or a Nerf gun battle. “Our garage is basically a Nerf gun battle station,” Dawn admitted.
The Murrays’ dogs, Rex and Scout, find plenty of action, too. The two canines recently teamed up to kill a 100-pound wild hog. It turns out Scout is a Catahoula, a Louisiana breed traditionally used to hunt wild boars. The Murrays adopted him from a shelter four years ago.
While the Murrays love their guns, they also love their knives. Ron was on the fencing team at the University of Arizona where he studied computer engineering. He never pushed his sons into the sport. They happened upon a class at the Boerne YMCA last year. “Fencing is like chess with knives,” Ron explained. “You have to think four or five moves ahead.”
“I like it because you get to stab each other without legal repercussions,” said Parker thoughtfully. Parker and Connor are presently trying to start a fencing club at Boerne High School.
“We encourage our kids to try lots of things,” Ron said. “The more you do, the more likely you will find something you love.”
“We are proud that our kids are kind, generous and respectful,” Dawn concluded. “They are still kids, and kids can be selfish, rude and mean, but we are proud of the people they are becoming.”
The Murrays don’t just love their lives in Cordillera Ranch. To quote another Cordillera resident, if you’ll buy that I’ll throw the Golden Gate in free.