One of Texas’s most admired writers, Bud Shrake, passed away early Friday morning, May 8, at St. David’s Hospital in Austin. Shrake was diagnosed with lung cancer last August, and given only 18 to 24 months to live, he kept busy with a variety of projects, including his stage play “The Friends of Carlos Monzon” scheduled to be performed in Austin in late May. He also committed himself to working on his latest book, what he called a “caper novel,” which will go unfinished. He was 77.
Edwin A. (Bud) Shrake, Jr., journalist, sportswriter, novelist, biographer and screenwriter, was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and he began his career there, covering sports for the Fort Worth Press then the Dallas Times Herald and the Dallas Morning News, before being hired to write for Sports Illustrated.
Shrake published ten novels, including the acclaimed Blessed McGill and Strange Peaches, considered by literary critics to be among the best novels ever to come from Texas. He also wrote celebrity as-told-to autobiographies, beginning with his friend, musician Willie Nelson. He also co-wrote Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book, tips and tales from the accomplished golfer, which became the bestselling sports book in American publishing history.
Shrake’s versatility as a writer extends to screenwriting, and among his film credits are Kid Blue (1973), a comic western starring Dennis Hopper, and Songwriter (1984), a film about the country music business starring Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson.
Shrake began gifting his literary papers to the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University’s Alkek Library in 1987, making him one of the earliest donors to establish major archives here. With UT Press, the Wittliff published Land of the Permanent Wave, an anthology of Shrake’s writings edited by Steve Davis, in their Southwestern Writers Collection Book Series in 2008. Shrake’s archives are currently being processed; more information is online: http://alkek.library.txstate.edu/swwc/archives/writers/shrake.html
Bud Shrake was married twice to his first wife, Joyce, with whom he had two sons, Ben and Creagan, and from 1966 to 1980, he was married to Doatsy Shrake. For the past two decades he was the companion of former Texas Governor Ann Richards, until her death in September of 2006. Bud will be buried next to Ann in the State Cemetery in Austin.