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Gus S. Wortham was a good businessman. Among other enterprises, he started a highly successful insurance company, American General, and helped to shape the economic institutions of Houston. Gus Wortham was a civic leader, who worked actively in the Chamber of Commerce to influence the city's economic climate and who left the city a legacy of cultural institutions, including the Wortham Theater Center. Gus Wortham was a rancher and land developer. Land: "They aren't making any more if it", he liked to say. So he bought it, developed it, and built a business with it. In short, he became one of the most influential men in the history of Houston. This is the story of his life, his business, his city. Company records and interviews with Wortham's surviving friends and associates combine to make it a thorough account. "Mr. Wortham had an interesting philosophy about several matters in life", writes his longtime friend and business partner Sterling C. Evans in the Foreword. "One was on dollars. With the business dollar, it was immoral not to make money and one had to make sure to receive full value. With the pleasure dollar, if one could afford it, enjoy it and never look back". This old-school Southwestern gentleman lived a life worthy of a movie, and his company, American General, has shaped a city worthy of a television series of its own. Urban and business historians alike will find this book a fascinating study, and those who know, or want to know, Houston will find it an enlightening chronicle.
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