ABILENE, Texas - Billie Sol Estes, who came from the small West Texas town of Pecos and went on to become a household name in the 60's, died Tuesday morning in Granbury.
Billie Sol was called by some the "king of Texas wheeler-dealers." Others knew him as a con-man who made and lost millions and spent several years in prison.
Billie Sol was friends with Texas politicians and, at one time, a close associate of Lyndon B Johnson, but to his family he was known as "Uncle Bill."
"Uncle Bill is the most colorful person in our family," Jane Estes Weatherbee, Billie Sol's niece, said.
The Estes family has deep roots in the Abilene area.
"He was always in the forefront of anything, he always had an answer, if he met anybody, if he didn't see them for 10 or 20 years, he knew exactly who they were, what they did and basically how much money they had," said Diehlman Word Estes
"My favorite things to remember about him were family reunions and just telling stories and always teasing us to stay out of trouble because he couldn't," said Weatherbee.
Billie Sol's troubles became national news in the early 60's when he was convicted of a scam involving phantom fertilizer tanks which he used to obtain millions in government loans. Billie Sol was sentenced in 1965 to 6 years in federal prison. He served his time in Leavenworth.
"He is the bench mark of swindlers I think he'll always go down as the consummate con artist of all time," said Abilene attorney Bob Lindsey who represented Billie Sol in the 80's in a rape case that was later dropped.
Lindsey held onto something he said Billie Sol gave him when he represented him, a box of files that he opened for the first time today.
"It's been back there 30 years I've never went through it I don't know what's in it," said Lindsey.
Billie Sol's family said they always remember the good times with him and never focus on the bad.
"We know there's going to be a lot of negative things that are said about Uncle Bill. A lot of people have animosity, but people didn't really know Uncle Bill. He was a great man," said Weatherbee.
Billie Sol Estes was 88.
A visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at Acton United Methodist Church in Granbury. The funeral will be held Saturday at 2 p.m. at Acton. Wiley Funeral Home in Granbury is in charge of arrangements
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