Women of the Fort 3

Imbued with strength and grace, these four women embody the spirit of Fort Worth.

 

The Family Business

 

You might not recognize her face, but you’ll certainly recognize her name: Becky Renfro Borbolla, an inheritor of the legacy of Renfro Foods, and the current vice president and co-owner of the iconic Fort Worth company. Since the name “Mrs. Renfro” adorns the labels of a vast as-sortment of salsas, relishes, peppers and sauces, one has to wonder: does Becky get taken as the face of the brand?
“People do ask me if I’m Mrs. Renfro, and I say that I’m her grand-daughter,” says Becky. “We put her picture on the lid, though, and I’m thinking, ‘I don’t look like that!’”

Renfro Foods, founded in the 1940s by Becky’s grandparents, George and Arthurine, has grown and thrived over the past seven decades. A large portion of the company’s success — which first bloomed thanks to the popularity of Dixieland Syrups and Chow Chow — can be attributed to the Renfros’ talent in navigating changes in consumer tastes. Becky cred-its the company’s longevity to another source: family.

“Our success is based largely on having the third-generation of Ren-fros active in the company,” says Becky. “There are three of us involved in daily operations. We’re testing and tasting products, and we’re not going to send something out the door that’s not the quality we expect.”

As for advice for young women just getting started in life, Becky says the following:
“Follow your dreams. If you want to do it, go for it,” says Becky. “I get up every morning and I never know what’s going to happen. I might expect a routine day, but something will come up and we’re suddenly going 90 mph; but I love what I do! I think everyone should follow their passion and work at something they enjoy.”

Heart of the Westside

For many, many residents of Fort Worth, no single person embodies the sense of westside community better than Sharon Chester Walters. Sharon began her career as a dental hygienist back in 1975 in her fa-ther’s practice on Camp Bowie Boulevard. Twenty-two years later, when her father retired, Sharon joined the practice of another dentist and took her father’s sizable clientele with her. To inspire such loyalty bespeaks a unique gift of personality and talent for connection; for Sharon, though, it just exemplifies the bonds that unite westside lifers.

“I’m blessed to have patients who have been coming to me for 40 years,” says Sharon. “There’s one family I’ve seen for four generations now. My favorite story involves a boy whose teeth I’ve cleaned since he was 2 years old. When his brother got married, I was invited to the wedding, and his finacee came up to me. She said, ‘So you’re Miss Sharon; I’ve been told I need to get your approval!”

His finacee later became a patient herself, and it was “Miss Sha-ron” who was the first to learn about her pregnancy. Relationships like these have defined Sharon’s life and career, and are what, to her, make the westside special.

“People stick together here,” says Sharon. “We’re like one big family, and those who move here from elsewhere get surprised when they hear that people live a half-mile from where they were raised. Six people I went to grade school with live within a block-and-a-half of my house.”

When asked how she works to nurture the community that’s been home for so long, Sharon has a simple and elegant answer:
“I just love my family, and I love my patients,” she says. “At the end of the day, they’re one and the same.”

 

Fort Worth’s Defender

As the first female District Attorney to ever serve the people of Tarrant County, Sharen Wilson is used to the “trailblazer” label. Ironically, the histor-ic nature of her election hardly influenced her during the campaign.

“Of course we knew that I could become the first female DA, but it really wasn’t something we thought about or talked about during the campaign,” says Sharen. “Our focus was on who had the ability to do the job and do it well.”

Since she took office in January of 2015, Sharen has quickly come to appreciate the talent of those around her, along with the desire to serve that motivates the talented, driven people in the Criminal District Attorney’s office.

“The absolute most rewarding thing is working with the incred-ibly bright people in this office,” says Sharen. “We have excellent attorneys, staff members and investigators. It’s a big office, and everyone’s at the top of their game.”

As for community service, that’s the name of the game for Sharen Wilson.
“Everyday we try to do right by the people of Tarrant County,” she says. “If someone calls us, it’s likely because something has gone terribly wrong in their lives. The ability to help the people who need you most, that’s what motivates us. Crime victims don’t get to pick another attorney; they only have us.”

Young women would do well to emulate this former prosecu-tor who became a licensed assistant DA at the age of 24.
“My advice for young people is to set goals and work hard,” says Sharen. “An 18-year-old doesn’t have to know exactly what she wants to be at the age of 50, but should have basic principles to live by and a desire to work hard. Keep your priorities in order and always give your employers an honest day of work.”

 

Taste of Elegance

Helen Bowers’s Rose Garden Tearoom, which has locations in Arling-ton and Fort Worth, calls to mind a bygone era of sophisticated ease and delectability. Inspired by the aesthetics of English gardens, these lunch-time havens cater to a loyal clientele that expands with every newcom-er’s first experience of the famous Rose Garden Variety Plate.

“We strive to create a relaxing atmosphere and ensure that the food is wonderful,” says Helen. “We make everything fresh daily, including the pies.”
It’s a testament to the broad nature of Helen’s talents that she never intended to become the proprietor of one of the Metroplex’s favorite lunch-spots. After her graduation from TCU, Helen worked as a teacher, florist and interior designer, started a successful children’s goods busi-ness and owned a dress shop. In the 20 years that she has owned the Rose Garden Tea Room, Helen has seen the business expand to include two of her daughters, along with a second location.

“My daughters have cooked since we first opened. It’s wonderful, and I don’t think I could do it without them,” says Helen. “It’s a family affair. They’re just as invested as I am in the quality, and they haven’t fired me yet.”

For the next generation of TCU graduates, Helen offers some wisdom gained throughout a dynamic life:
“Just embrace every moment,” she says. “Everything you experi-ence serves to lead you toward your passion in life. That’s what life is all about — finding what you really care about.”