In tribute: Restaurant founder remembered for generosity

Argen Duncan

A public memorial service for Cattle Baron restaurant founder Jeffrey Walter Wilson, remembered as a supporter of youth and a good employer, is scheduled for 1-4 p.m. Monday at the Roswell Civic Center.

Wilson died Sunday in Roswell at the age of 57.

“He was a very generous man, helped the community any way he could,” said Cattle Baron Restaurants Inc. accounts payable coordinator Susan Duran, who worked for Wilson six years.

According to a news release from the company, Wilson supported The Assurance Home for Children in Roswell, the Roswell Refuge for Battered Adults and Roosevelt and Chaves County 4-H and FFA programs.

Wilson was a very private person, Duran said, but she knew he came from a long line of farmers.

Duran said Wilson worked in restaurants as a young man, and opened the Portales Cattle Baron, the first restaurant of his own, in 1976.

“From there, it’s like everything he touched turned to gold,” she continued.

All of Wilson’s concepts for restaurants succeeded, even during the economic downturn, Duran said, and he was proud that he never had to lay off an employee.

According to the news release, Wilson opened seven more Cattle Baron locations in New Mexico and Texas, plus three Farley’s Food, Fun and Pub eateries, two Tia Juana’s Mexican Grill and Cantinas, and one Santino’s Italian Restaurant, all in New Mexico.

In addition, Wilson purchased Tinnie Silver Dollar Restaurant in the small New Mexico town of Tinnie and The Snazzy Pig BBQ and Pasta Cafe, both in Roswell.

Duran said Wilson was a good employer.

“He took care of his employees, and he cared about them,” she said.

According to the news release, Wilson said his success came from “a great menu and great service in a great setting — all for an enormous value.” He also believed the people involved in the business made the difference for success.

In addition to his restaurants, Wilson owned two working ranches, one in New Mexico and one in Texas, and kept race horses and a beloved Yorkshire terrier named Tinkerbell.

“Jeff had a positive impact on a great number of people in his life and contributed unselfishly to the communities,” the news release said.