THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT SAN ANTONIO
2008 Presentation of the Tom C. Frost Award
Helen Kleberg Groves
Helen Groves is a true Texas cowgirl, a mother, grandmother, author and a philanthropist with a heart as big as the King Ranch, her family home.
Groves was born in San Antonio on October 20, 1927, the only child of Robert J. Kleberg Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg. She was reared on the 825,000-acre ranch in South Texas, where she learned about ranching, line breeding, genetics and working cattle from her father.
She is president of the Robert J. Kleberg, Jr. and Helen C. Kleberg Foundation, established in 1950 by her parents. The foundation has funded countless projects in Texas and across the country, particularly in the areas of biomedical research, health services, higher education, and veterinary and wildlife projects.
UTSA has been the grateful recipient of more than $2.5 million from the foundation, and most recently accepted $822,000 for the College of Sciences. UTSA paid a lasting tribute to the Klebergs with the dedication of the Kleberg Commons on the 1604 Campus last March.
In addition to raising five daughters and a son, Groves made time for civic work while spending a lifetime in ranching and livestock. For more than 30 years, from 1956 to 1988, she was on the board of directors of King Ranch, Inc.
Known as the "First Lady of Cutting," Groves has spent decades breeding, raising and riding cutting horses. She began competing in cutting horse events in 1972 and took many championships until she retired from competition. She is a member of the National Cutting Horse Association Hall of Fame, National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame.
She has been called an ambassador to the equine industry for her support of equine research and contributions to the development of the American Quarter Horse.
Groves published her memoirs several years ago in Bob and Helen Kleberg of the King Ranch. A loving tribute to her parents, the book chronicles the history of the ranch and the first family of cattle ranching.
Among her numerous honors is the Order of Australia from the Governor of Australia. She was only the second American to receive this award. She is emeritus director of the U.S. Equestrian Team and the lifetime vice president of the Texas and Southwest Cattle Raisers Association.
She attended King High School in Kingsville; St. Mary's Hall in San Antonio; and Foxcroft School in Middleburg, Va. She also attended Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Groves currently owns several Texas ranches and raises Santa Gertrudis and crossbreed beef cattle. She also raises quarter horses primarily of King Ranch breeding strains that are registered with the American Quarter Horse Association. She still actively breeds and races thoroughbreds individually and with her daughters.
The University community is honored to present the Tom C. Frost Award to Helen Kleberg Groves.