His Early Years
Rex Everett Callicott was born in Lane, Tennessee, on January 23, 1896, to Leonidas and Fannie Fern Callicott. He was the seventh of eight children — five girls and three boys. His family moved to Texas when he was still a young boy. Rex met Maudine Curtis at Wills Point, Texas, and they married on September 21, 1922 (Ancestry, 2019). He began baking cookies in the backyard of his Dallas home the following year. By the end of the year, it was a thriving business that developed into a million-dollar industry by the time he retired as chairman in 1962 (Advocate, 1987).
Jack’s Cookie Corporation
Around 1925 Rex and Maudine moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where their two children were born. After 1935 the family moved to Houston where Rex opened a Jack’s cookie plant. By 1941 the Callicotts were living in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Ancestry, 2019). Rex consolidated his operations into three large plants located in Charlotte, North Carolina; Mobile, Alabama; and Baton Rouge. During a bleak business period during World War II, Rex stopped making his vanilla wafers, which was his best selling cookie. The sugar shortage threatened to cause a substandard dough and he decided it was better to discontinue production than lower the quality. The vanilla wafer was the first cookie back on the market after the sugar shortage ended (Advocate, 1987).
Photos courtesy of the Arkansas-Louisiana conference
The RX Bar Ranch
During his early years in Texas, Rex had developed an interest in cattle ranching that carried over even into his retirement years. He became a member of both the Louisiana and the Texas Cattlemen’s Association (Advocate, 1987). In 1944 he purchased a 6,300-acre ranch in Pointe Coupee and West Baton Rouge parishes along the Mississippi River. Rex ran 3,500 head of Angus and Brangus cattle, along with thirty head of registered quarter horses, on the RX Bar Ranch. Using effective pastureland management led to improvement of his cattle herds creating a very successful business (Sapp, 1980). His ranch was his love and he would go every day during the week, if possible. “He loved to make his daily tour, talk with his ranch hands, or deliver supplies. When he drove up on the levee there was a view…of the cattle grazing and the birds on wing. It was breathtaking” (Leach, 1987).
Contributions for Young People
Rex became a well-known businessman in the south and in the Seventh-day Adventist church. He served on many boards and committees, including the Southwestern Adventist College (now University) board, the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference committee and the Union committee over the years. He was instrumental in getting the Spanish Voice of Prophecy to begin broadcasting in New Orleans in February 1971. He had a strong interest in helping young people get a Christian education and many young people received financial assistance through his generosity. One of his favorite ways to help was the Youth Action Line, operated by B. E. Leach, Wayne Shepherd, and Dick Bendall. Rex was the chief source of income for this life-line that young people could call when they needed help (Leach, 1987). On one occasion when this group was going over names of students who needed financial aid, Rex soon had contributed $20,000 and the Youth Action Line had pledged $7,000 but had no idea how they would get the funds to cover this amount. In a few days they received a check for $7,000 from Rex Callicott, with a note of thanks for helping the needy students (Bendall, 1987). “Before he died, Callicott provided for the same philanthropy to continue through the Callicott Foundation. Many students at Ozark Adventist Academy and Southwestern Adventist University are still helped by grants from the Foundation” (Beeler, 1996).
The Argyle Plantation
Rex Callicott will long be remembered for his accomplishments and his dedication to the Southwestern Union. He and his wife, Maudine, and their two children, Rex P. and Bettye, gave to this church the largest gift in the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. “Argyle Plantation is a name that will be blazed in the eternal Stewardship Hall of Fame. The land alone is worth millions. The value of the mineral rights cannot be estimated. Already a four-mile hole, costing sixteen million dollars, has been drilled; and there they found it — GAS — with the pressure so powerful they have had to order special pipe from Japan to handle it. Approximately 50% of the land and royalties are the property of the Southwestern Union Conference, Southwestern Adventist College, Arkansas-Louisiana Conference, and Ozark [Adventist] Academy. This is a tremendous event — unprecedented and unparalleled in the entire 130-year history of our church. Thank you, Brother Rex, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We’ll never stop thanking you. Praise the Lord! Elder V. L. Roberts (former treasurer, associate secretary and stewardship secretary of the Southwestern Union) is in charge of this project. He is known as landlord of Argyle Plantation. Rex Callicott now works for V. L. Roberts” (Leach, 1981). In the first six years alone, nearly six million dollars flowed into the church, supporting the Lord’s work (Leach, 1987).
Farewell to a Friend
Rex Callicott passed away on February 3, 1987, but he still stands out because of his sincerity, his honesty, his close relationship with Jesus, and his humility. He loved his Lord and he had a great vision of a “land that is fairer than day” (Leach, 1987).
(1987, Feb. 4). Jack’s Cookie Co. founder Callicott dies at age 91. State Time Advocate, p. 36.
(No date). East Carolina University Digital Collections. Retrieved from digital.lib.ecu.edu.
Ancestry Family Trees. (2019, Oct. 2). Rex Everett Callicott. Retrieved from ancestry.com.
Beeler, Charles R. (1996). A History of Seventh-day Adventists in Arkansas and Louisiana 1888-1996. Keene: Arkansas-Louisiana Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, p. 159.
Bendall, Richard W. (1987, Mar. 13). Southwestern Union Record, p. 3.
Leach. B. E. (1981, Mar. 5). Review and Herald, p. 12B.
Ibid. (1987, Mar. 13). Southwestern Union Record, pp. 8, 9.
Saap, Dexter and Latiolais, Donny. (1980, Feb. 24). Effective Pastureland Management. State Times Advocate, p. 40.