Like many in the borderland and El Paso, Dee Margo’s family roots originated in Texas in the mid-1800s. His great-great-grandfather, Robert Margo came up the Rio Grande River from New Orleans, and settled in Rio Grande City in 1850. Robert married Maria Antonia Saenz from Mexico in 1854, and they had one son, Ruperto Estanisaldo Margo, Dee’s great grandfather. In 1882, Ruperto married Francisca Peña from Ciudad Mier, Tamaulipas. They resided in Rio Grande City, where Dee’s grandfather, Elias Margo, was born and raised. Elias was number 7 of 10 children and did not learn English until he attended The University of Texas at the age of 18. He went to Galveston Medical School and was a general practitioner in the early 1900s, moving to Oklahoma City to specialize in orthopedics. While living in Oklahoma, Elias partnered with other surgeons to establish The Bone and Joint Hospital, which is still in operation today.
Dee’s father, born in Oklahoma City, was a salesman and his mother was a homemaker, who committed her time to raising three boys. Dee and his brothers understood the difficulty of growing up during a time when jobs were hard to hold—their father lost his job in Oklahoma City when Dee was just three years old. They moved to Ardmore, Oklahoma and continued moving every few years to keep up with their father’s changing work opportunities. Dee lived in Oklahoma, Texas, and Mississippi. He attended Huntsville High School in Alabama, where he joined the football team. Attending college was not possible financially, but athletics and his high school football coach helped pave the path for a football scholarship.
Despite the financial obstacles faced by his family, Dee was determined to succeed. He wanted to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather and become an orthopedic surgeon; in February of 1970, he accepted a football scholarship to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. During his senior year at Vanderbilt, he went on a blind date with Adair Wakefield, a sophomore from El Paso, Texas. Not too long after their first date, Dee knew he wanted to build a life with Adair. His degree plan had changed, and he graduated from Vanderbilt in May of 1974 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Economics. Dee’s goal of attending law school was unaffordable at the time, so he took a job as a salesman for John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company, earning $700 a month. After Adair graduated, they married on August 21, 1976.
Adair and Dee moved to El Paso in 1977, and he began working for Adair’s father, Wake Wakefield, at John D. Williams Company (JDW). He was on a commission-based salary and the fifth employee to join the company. Dee became the sole salesman for JDW. In February of 1981, 6 days after his 29th birthday, Dee’s father-in-law suffered a fatal heart attack. His son Wake was two years old, and Adair was pregnant with their second son, Don. In order to ensure his family’s future, and that of the 6 employees, he secured a note to purchase JDW from his mother-in-law and the estate. Dee was determined to make JDW a success and slowly, but surely, he expanded JDW Insurance from 6 employees to 70 in the span of 30 years.
During these years, Dee established the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, joined the Rotary Club, served as Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army at Ft. Bliss, created the local chapter of the Young Presidents Organization, participated in the founding of REDCO (now Borderplex Alliance), became the Chairman of the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce, and gave his time to several non-profits, including Operation Noel. Dee was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2010, where he served on various committees, including the House Appropriations Committee. In 2013 he was appointed President of the EPISD Board of Managers and, together with his fellow board members, led the school district out of a time of uncertainty, back to accreditation, and financial stability. Most recently, Dee was appointed by Governor Greg Abbott to serve on the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) Oversight Committee.
El Paso has been Dee’s home for 40 years, and he is committed to the roots he has established in this community. Adair and Dee have raised their sons in El Paso, and their granddaughters are fifth-generation El Pasoans. They are the reason Dee wants to be Mayor, to assure the education and career opportunities of future generations right here in El Paso.
Operation Noel – 1995-Present
EPISD Board of Managers – President, 2014-2016
The Border Fund – Partner – 1993-2006 over $26 million distributed to local charities.
Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce – Chair, 2005; Executive Committee/Board of Directors,
2005; Chairman, Government Relations, 1997; Chairman, Economic Development Division,
1999; Chairman, Chamber Foundation Board, 2001
REDCO (now Borderplex Alliance) – Founding member; Board of Directors, Executive Committee, 2004 to 2010; Member, 2004 – Present
Paso Del Norte Group – Founding member; Executive Committee, 2004-2006
El Paso Empowerment Zone Corp. – Chairman, 2001; Vice Chair, 2000
Rotary Club of El Paso – Board of Directors, 1983; Member, 1979-Present
United Way of El Paso – Board of Directors, 1991-1995; Giving Campaign Chair, 2016/1017
City/County Board of Health – Member, 1986 to 1989.
Sunturians (Chamber of Commerce) – Lifetime Member, since 1981
Fellowship of Christian Athletes – Founded El Paso Chapter in 1977
Junior Achievement – Member, Board of Directors, (2 terms) 2002-2007; President, 1986 to 1987
Private Industry Council – Board of Directors, 1982 to 1983
UTEP Business School Advisory Council – Chairman, 1999-2001
Leadership El Paso – Participant, Class V
Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas – Appointment, 2015 to Present
State of Texas Representative – District 78, 2011-2013
Defense Economic Adjustment Advisory Board, Texas – Director, 1997
Texas Lyceum – Board of Directors, 1986 to 1989
Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army – Appointment, 1990 to 1998.
Business-Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC)/Business Institute for Political Anlysis – Board of Directors, 1994-2015; Chairman, 2001 to 2003.
Intersure – President, 1993 to 1994; Member, 1985 – 2012
Association of the U.S. Army – Member
Outstanding Civilian Award – 2008
GA Omar N. Bradley Chapter – Association of the United States Army
Del Norte Award – County of El Paso – 2005
Young Presidents Organization Hickok Legacy Honour Award – 2003
Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow – 2001
League of Women Voters BRAVO Award – 2001
Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce Star Award – 2000 and 2015
Junior Achievement-El Paso Business Hall of Fame – 1999
Beta Gamma Sigma Honoree, UTEP – 1999
Department of the Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal – 1998
Association of the U.S. Army Certificate of Achievement – 1991 and 1996
Outstanding Young El Pasoan – Jaycees – 1989
One of Five Outstanding Young Texans-Texas Jaycees – 1989
Million Dollar Roundtable – Life Member
Texas Leaders Roundtable – Life Member