By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer
On Cap Chesser’s long list of charitable giving and volunteer work, Reba’s Ranch House stands out for reasons that go back a long, long way…
In third grade, Cap was growing up in east central Oklahoma, near Prague, when his family needed to make an emergency trip to the hospital in Oklahoma City. Cap’s mother was in a bad way during her third pregnancy and they didn’t know if she would survive it.
During those worrisome days, Cap’s father rented an apartment a full mile from the hospital for the family to stay in during the ordeal.
Mom was okay, and still is at 93-years-old. But when Cap walked the halls of Reba’s Ranch House, he knew the difference a home away from home, so close to the hospital, would have made for his family back then.
“I was struck with the mission of Texoma Health Foundation and what they do, and then with Reba’s Ranch House,” Cap says. “I started giving annually, but got more active when I felt there was a need. In 2008, I really started stepping into the waters there.”
Among Cap’s many charitable contributions, scholarship establishments, and volunteer activities—he was the Paul Kisel Volunteer of the Year 2021 through the Denison Chamber—one of them is the “Leadership Denison” program. Cap helps organize the different areas of focus—from government to tourism—and he puts the ranch house on the agenda to tour during the medical focus day.
Though someone else guides the leadership group tour, Cap is always there with them to go through the house. They see the footprints Cap and his wife, Jacqueline Vandiver Chesser, have made through the years. It started when the couple sponsored the laundry room, because just like any house—it piles up.
But it’s the quality of the house that captures people’s heart and attention.
“It’s an eye opener from the standpoint of how nice the facility is,” Cap says. “They thought it was going to be like a hotel, but it’s not. It’s a completely encapsulated home for the people who are going to be there awhile.”
After Christmas each year, Cap asks for the ranch house’s leftover wish list for the Denison Rotary Club to take care of. He makes shopping trips to make sure everything is checked off, even if it’s non-glamorous items like dishwashers and vacuum cleaners.
“There are things that people don’t think about,” Cap says. “One year, the thing that jumped out at me was that they needed a whole stack of trash cans. It’s one of the less beautiful gifts I’ve ever given.”
But one of his most beautiful gifts was after his wife passed in 2020. Cap set out to keep her memory as part of the places they both loved and admired.
One of those was Reba’s Ranch House, and Cap sponsored what he calls the, “I miss you, Mommy,” room. It has a crib, rocker, and a fridge—everything to make a mother feel at home when undergoing a medical crisis.
It’s the kind of room his wife would have appreciated, and his own mother as well. The impact of their family’s medical crisis early in his life is one reason why the ranch house holds a special place in his heart, and always will.