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UTRGV Digital Exhibits

John H. Shary and Family

John H. Shary

JOHN H. SHARY (1872-1945)

Pioneer, developer, entrepreneur, and “Father of the Texas Citrus Industry,” John H. Shary passed away on November 6, 1945. His funeral was attended by hundreds of people and several newspapers across the country published his obituary.  He was inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame in 1984 and the Texas Citrus and Vegetable Association Produce Hall of Fame in 1988.

John H. Shary invested his time, knowledge, and millions of dollars in order to help make possible his vision of building a citrus empire in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Although, he primarily focused on developing the Sharyland and Mission area, he was instrumental in demonstrating the valuable agricultural potential of the Magic Valley and helped develop it into one of the richest farming areas in Texas.

“John H. Shary was a man of vision…when he came to the Rio Grande Valley in 1912, he looked at brush land and he saw opportunity. When he looked at empty acreage, he saw productive family farms. When he looked at small backyard orchards, he saw an industry. But most of all, when he looked at the Valley, he saw a place he wanted to call home.” –Dr. Miguel A. Navárez, University of Texas Pan American President

Mary Shary

MARY (O'BRIEN) SHARY (1885 - 1959)

Mary O’Brien was born on December 6, 1885, in Keokuk, Iowa. She met John H. Shary while working as the secretary and treasurer for his first land development company, the International Land and Investment Company headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska.

Mary eventually followed Shary down to the Magic Valley and became instrumental in building and maintaining the Shary organization for over 30 years. She actively took part in many social and charitable endeavors throughout her lifetime.

John and Mary married in a civil ceremony at the home of their close friends, Mr. and Mrs. Matlison on November 13, 1922, in Carthage, Missouri.


John and Mary Shary adopted Mary’s niece Marialice Shary Shivers (1910-1996) when she was twenty-one years old. Marialice went to live with them at the age of fifteen and became really close to her aunt and uncle. In 1937, Marialice married Robert Allan Shivers (1907-1985) at the Shary Mansion.

In 1947, Allan Shivers became the 33rd Lieutenant Governor of Texas and served in that capacity for two years. Upon the death of Governor Beauford Jester in 1949, Shivers succeeded him to become the 37th Governor of Texas, a title he would hold until 1957.