Sunday, January 29, 2023 Jan 29, 2023
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Billy Bob

Five people with the greatest name in Texas.
By David Bauer |

The double name is as classically Texan as the Stetson. And Billy Bob is the classic double name. Statistics are unavailable, but surely Texas accounts for a vast percentage of the world’s Billy Bobs. But even here in Dallas-Fort Worth, Billy Bob is a rare and distinguished name.

The double name is a curious thing. There are no rules as to what names work, but some pairings are acceptable and some definitely are not. Jim Bob, for example, works; Bob Jim does not. Joe Ed works; Ed Joe does not. Certain names can be paired: the Bobs, the Bills, the Eds, the Dons, the Waynes, the Jacks, the Joes. Others cannot: You will never meet a Frank Ron. Last names are important; the double name works best with short, crisp Anglo-Saxon last names: Billy Wayne Bruton or Joe Don Tibbs. You will never meet a Jim Ed Pavarotti or a Bobby Jack Ginsberg. Syllable position matters: Bobby Bill does not work; Billy Bob works best of all.

So what? So nothing. We’d simply like to honor a great Texas name. On these pages, please pay your respects to some people named Billy Bob.

Billy Bob Coffey. Golfer (Stale Amateur Champion 1940. 1941), Fort Worth. Born in 1916 in Fort Worth, Texas. Father’s name: Alden. Mother’s name: Maude Polly.

“My family tree had a lot of Williams and a lot of Roberts, so my parents named me William Robert.

Then one of their friends came along and said, ?William Robert? Hey, that’s a Billy Bob.’ I don’t think my parents ever meant me to be a Billy Bob, but I’ve been hung with it ever since. As a kid, I never liked the name much. Still don’t, for that matter. I tried to just be a Bill, but it didn’t stick. In golf tournaments, I’d sign my entry card Bill, and then sure enough, up on the score-board they’d put Billy Bob Coffey. I’m just hung with it. My son’s William Robert Jr., but I guess he didn’t want to be a Billy Bob any more than I did-he goes by Bob. If I could choose any other name? Oh, just plain Bill, 1 guess. It is awful dull, though, isn’t it?”

Billy Bob Barnett. Beer distributor, Fort Worth and Dallas. Born in 1946 in Lampasas, Texas. Father’s name: Joe Elvin. Mother’s name: Vallie Pearl. Sister’s name: Wynona.

“I was named by my Dad-and I’m a real Billy Bob, not a William Robert. My dad was an ex-rodeo pro and he wanted his son to be an athlete, wanted me to be a football player. He figured that in case I didn’t have enough talent to get noticed, he’d at least give me a name that the coaches would remember. It worked for a while-I played four years of basketball and a year of football at A&M, then dabbled in pro football with Kansas City and Chicago; then I guess my talent caught up with my name. People always remember it, which can be both good and bad. In fact, I’m surprised some of these other Billy Bobs haven’t ended up in jail by mistake. In some situations the name can be a little loo easy to remember, so I adopt an alias: Herbie Schwebitz. If I ever have a son, I wouldn’t name him Billy Bob; I’d want him to have his own individuality. What would I name my son ? Probably Herbie Schwebitz.”

Billy Bob Harris. Stockbroker, Dallas. Born in 1939 in Amarillo, Texas. Father’s name: J. C. Mother’s name: Willie. Secretary’s name: Tootie.

“One of my granddads was a William, the other granddad was a Robert. But I’m not a William Robert like a lot of Billy Bobs; I’m a pure Billy Bob. I was the first and only child. I’m not going to say I was a disappointment to J. C.

and Willie, but they didn’t try again. As a kid I was not aware that it was an unusual name; maybe that’s because I was raised in Gruver, Texas. There were a lot of double names in Gruver; I got called Bobby Jack a lot. I’ve always been known only as Billy Bob; I don 7 identify at alt with ’Billy’-you might as well call me Ralph. It’s definitely a name people remember; I don’t ever get mistaken for somebody else. The name does cause some problems sometimes, though, particularly with northerners. Recently I was at a party with a lot of New Yorkers. The same thing kept happening. They’d ask, ’ What’s your name?’ ’Billy Bob Harris,’ I’d reply. ’Oh,’ they’d say, ’well, what do they call you?’ I guess if I were to rename myself, I’d go with Maurice Levon Bannister III. Or perhaps Porgy. “

Billy Bob Watt. President-manager, Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show, Fort Worth. Born in 1934 in Fort Worth, Texas. Father’s name: William Robert “Billy Bob” Watt Sr. Mother’s name: Helen. Son’s name: William Robert “Trey” Watt III.

“My father’s name was Billy Bob, so I’ve never really thought much about it. My mother always called my father Bill, so she’s always called me Bob. People always ask me, ’Well, what do you wanna be called?’ I tell them they can call me whatever they wanna call me. Some people call me Bob; a few people try to call me Bill; mostly they call me Billy Bob. I’ve never wanted another name; I’ve always been pleased that my name was an unusual one. My son goes by Trey now, but 1 have a feeling when he gets a little older, he ’II be a Billy Bob, too. The only time I’ve ever been called anything else was when I was in high school in Pennsylvania-they called me Tex.”

Billie Bob Compton. Payroll clerk. Garland. Born in 1921 in Rockwall, Texas. Father’s name: Oscar. Mother’s name: Alyne. Sons’ names: David and Dale. Daughter’s name: Donna.

“I’ve never liked my name. I just can’t imagine a female being named that. But I was the first born. My father, he wanted a boy in the worst way. When he saw I was a girl, he just broke down and cried like a baby. Then he named me Billie Bob anyway. Two years later he finally got his son-named him Charles. I was a daddy’s girl, though, really partial to him, so I never held it against him. Maybe Daddy knew what he was doing, though, ’cause I was always big-boned, always the biggest kid in the class. In fact, I’ve really always wished I were a boy; I’ve always wished I could play football and hitchhike and steal watermelons. But since I’m not, I’ve always \ wished I could have a feminine name. I’ve tried to drop the Bob part. Even my husband Ray-he’s a retired okra farmer-he just calls me Billie. If I had the choice, I’d rather be a Martha.”

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