The Board of Directors of the Texas Wounded Warrior Foundation deeply mourns the loss of a dear friend and long-time supporter, Pierre de Wet. He will be missed by many.
Pierre de Wet, the founder of the Kiepersol family of farming, winemaking and hospitality enterprises, died Tuesday morning at his home of cardiac arrest.
de Wet came to East Texas in 1984 with his daughters Marnelle and Velmay after having lost his wife to cancer at their native home in South Africa. He began farming land on behalf of other land owners, an endeavor that would lead to his creation of a multi-state farming operation that was run by a company named Agtoprof, Inc., which de Wet founded. At its peak, Agtoprof employed over 2,500 in the management and operation of tree-fruit farms in California, Florida, Arizona and Washington, as well as his own farm in East Texas.
In 1999, having assembled acreage in southern Smith County between Tyler and Bullard, de Wet established Kiepersol Estates as a residential real estate development. At about that time, he opened the Kiepersol Estates Restaurant and B&B, a five-star dining venue with an attached bed and breakfast.
In 2000, Kiepersol released the first wines vinted from grapes that had been planted in 1997 on a portion of the Kiepersol Estates acreage.
Today, Kiepersol Estates produces approximately 15,000 cases of wine annually from vines grown on 67 acres of estate property. Kiepersol wines have been recognized and have received awards in multiple international wine competitions. Kiepersol wines are sold at the Kiepersol Winery and through retailers throughout the state of Texas.
Recently, Kiepersol began making distilled spirits including Texas bourbon, Texas vodka and Texas rum.
Pierre de Wet adopted Texas and the USA as his home country and became an American citizen in 1994. Said longtime friend and spokesman Paul Gleiser, “Pierre once told me that he would write a check for $100,000 if it would buy him a Texas accent. He is a true American success story. He arrived in America expecting only its promise of opportunity and brought life from the Earth while creating a successful, family-oriented and proudly Texan business.”
Some time ago, de Wet created a detailed plan of succession. All of the Kiepersol Enterprises operations will continue without interruption under family management.
Pierre de Wet is survived by his love Kelly Doherty, sisters Suzanne and Wilna, daughters Marnelle de Wet Durrett and her husband Jim, Velmay de Wet Power and her husband Chris, grandchildren Harris, Saundi, Lloyd Pierre, Sendra and a Kiepersol staff of 75.
A public celebration of Pierre de Wet’s life was held Wednesday, February 3 at 3:00 p.m. at the KE Bushman’s Event & Celebration Center, U.S. Highway 69 at FM 2493.
Memorials in honor of Pierre de Wet may be made to the Mane Mission Foundation at any East Texas Southside Bank location.
The mission of the Texas Wounded Warrior Foundation is to raise awareness, to honor, and to empower our Wounded United States Military Warriors who live in Texas and surrounding states, enabling them to assimilate back to daily life upon their return from combat. We seek to provide Wounded Veterans injured from combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan with funding to defray the basic costs of living incurred, as a result of the short and long-term care of those injuries.
The State of Texas is home to one the highest numbers of Wounded Combat Veterans in the United States, second only in casualty incidence to California during Operation Enduring Freedom (www.icasualties.org/OEF/USCasualtiesByState.aspx). Additionally, Texas has the second largest number of active duty military personnel outside Virginia (www.governing.com/gov-data/military-civilian-active-duty-employee-workforce-numbers-by-state.html). We proudly support Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) which is the command element over the San Antonio Medical Military Center (SAMMC), and home to the largest military hospital complex in the U.S. Department of Defense (www.bamc.amedd.army.mil/sammc.asp). This complex services the needs of the wounded from all branches of military service all over the country. Many Warriors from other states who are treated here become adopted Texans, as they often choose to remain in the Lone Star State as their newly found home. The Texas Wounded Warrior Foundation is proud and humbled to claim that we are everyday Texans working for extraordinary heroes, who’ve bravely defended our Nation’s freedom, the most precious of liberties God has given to mankind.
The horrors of combat can only be imagined by those of us who have never had these experiences, yet these imaginations can’t remotely compare with actual realities. Warriors are forced to endure these hardships, not to mention the strain of family separations and multiple deployments. Physical wounds can be widespread, encompassing traumatic brain injury, burns, spinal cord injury, and amputation, just to name a few. Emotional and mental injuries are even more numerous where the incidence of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is alarmingly high with almost one in five Warriors returning from combat being diagnosed with this condition. Additionally, suicides have increased dramatically in the last few years and are significantly higher in Warriors of recent war theaters compared with other veterans from previous wars (www.veteransandptsd.com/PTSD-statistics.html). While there are many government and non-profit institutions that perform wonderful services for these heroes, their needs continue to be paramount—many Wounded Warriors are still falling through the cracks and not receiving the help they deserve, despite widespread efforts. It is the desire of the Texas Wounded Warrior Foundation to seal as many of these cracks as possible and to be a significant resource for those Warriors in need.
2015 Texas Wounded Warrior Foundation Events and Activities:
1st Golf School - March 26-27 at The Cascades Golf Club, Tyler, Texas
2nd Golf School - April 8-9 at Black Horse Golf Club, Houston, Texas
3rd Golf School - June 2-3 at Gentle Creek Golf Club, Prosper, Texas
Texas Wounded Warrior Golf Tournament - July 21-22 at Republic Golf Course, San Antonio, TX
Texas Wounded Warrior Pro-Am - October 2-5 at The Cascades Golf Club, Tyler, TX
Texas Wounded Warrior Pro-Am - Nov. 2, 2015 at Escondido, Horseshoe Bay, Texas