Funeral arrangements set for Cavender's founder

Funeral arrangements set for Cavender's founder
James Robert Cavender March 22, 1931-May 29, 2018
Joe, Mike and James Cavender with George Strait in 1986 in Dallas. Also pictured are Whitney, Morgan and McClain Cavender. (Source: Cavenders)
Joe, Mike and James Cavender with George Strait in 1986 in Dallas. Also pictured are Whitney, Morgan and McClain Cavender. (Source: Cavenders)

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - Funeral arrangements have been set for James Cavender, the founder of a western retail chain based in Texas.

A memorial service for Cavender is set for 3 p.m. June 1 at the First Baptist Church in Pittsburg, Texas. Visitation with the family will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at First Baptist Church Family Life Center in Pittsburg, Texas.

Cavender died on May 29 at 87 years old.

The arrangements were announced Wednesday in a company news release that also described Cavender's life and career.

Cavender, who was raised during the post-Depression era, was born in Idabel, Oklahoma in 1931. He grew up in a family of entrepreneurs. His parents Lois "L.O." Otis and Loyce ran an appliance store, a gas station, a distributorship and later a motel.

After completing a tour of duty in Korea with the U.S. Air Force in 1955, he married his college sweetheart Patricia Whitten and had two children.

In 1957, he opened his first business.

"Elvis Presley was king, rock and roll, bobby socks, burgers and milkshakes were booming and so James opened a Dairy Mart franchise," the release states. "A year into the venture, James, tired of paying the $150 annual franchise fee, changed one letter on the sign and the business became the Dairy Hart. It would become a Pittsburg institution for years to come, providing many a school kid root beer, hamburgers and jukebox tunes."

In 1965, after welcoming a daughter, Cavender sold the Dairy Hart and opened his first retails store "Cavender & Smith's."

"Final child Clay was born in 1968. By the 1970s, James and Cavender's had become well-known in East Texas and James continued his expansion and became the largest dealer of Western boots in East Texas. James also began raising peaches. He was a busy man," the release notes.

The retail organization celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2015. Decades after the doors first opened, the company remains family owned.

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