Jim McReynolds has been named the 2021 Ralph W. Steen Memorial East Texan of the Year.  Former Lufkin Mayor Bob Brown made the announcement Friday during the Annual Membership Meeting of the Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) at the Pitser Garrison Convention Center in Lufkin.

In the 30+ years that I've lived and worked in East Texas, Jim McReynolds has been one of the nicest and most service-oriented persons I have met.  He is always so gracious and even though so many people clamor for his time at events, he always made you feel like you were the most important person in the room.  Quite often we would see each other while being a part of the annual Veteran's Day Celebration at Huntington High School.  He was so genuine in his appreciation of all those that shared their talents in that program, and, of course, he knew exactly what to say to the veterans.  McReynolds is a veteran himself, achieving the rank of sergeant as a member of the US Marine Corps Reserve.

The nomination for McReynolds to receive the award noted that “Jim has been a member of two of the most honorable professions known to man – a Teacher and a Truck Farmer.”  It went on to say that McReynolds has done a lot of other honorable things in his life –

  • Sunday School teacher and Deacon in the Church of Christ
  • Scoutmaster, and recipient of the Faithful Servant Award
  • Board Member of the Samaritan Counseling Center of East Texas
  • Co-Founder and Board Member of East Texas Community Health Services
  • Board Member of Big Brothers & Big Sisters, and Boys & Girls Club
  • He founded Project Belize, a non-profit organization which supplied doctors and support staff to Central America to promote improvement of primary health care.
  • In 1981 he started his own oil and gas company, Chaparral Energy.


According to the DETCOG media release, McReynolds is most recognized for is being a Member of the Texas House of Representatives.  He served for 14 years in the Texas House, representing the citizens of Angelina, Houston, San Augustine, San Jacinto, and Trinity counties.

DETCOG Executive Director Lonnie Hunt said after the presentation: “Even if your county was not within the boundaries of his House District, I can guarantee you he was representing you, too – always looking out for the interests of ALL our Deep East Texas communities.”

McReynolds received many accolades for his service in the Legislature:

  • Freshman of the Year
  • Top Ten Legislator
  • Committee Chairman
  • Multiple Legislator of the Year Awards
  • The Best of Texas Award…. And the list goes on and on….

Jim McReynolds is currently serving on the boards of Burke and the Family Crisis Center of East Texas.

The Ralph W. Steen Memorial East Texan of the Year Award has become one of the most prestigious and longest running, recognitions bestowed in East Texas.  In 1976, Dr. Ralph W. Steen was retiring after 20 years as President of Stephen F. Austin State University.  He had guided SFA from a small college to a large regional university, and in the process, he contributed greatly to the development of the Deep East Texas region.  To honor his legacy DETCOG created this award and presented it to Dr. Steen -- and then named the award after him.

In the picture, Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) President, Sabine County Judge, Daryl Melton (Left) and DETCOG Executive Director Lonnie Hunt (right) present Jim McReynolds with the 2021 Ralph W. Steen Memorial East Texan of the Year Award.


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