NEW YORK, May 11, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In the Great Hall where immigrants were once processed in the hope of becoming Americans, Texan's Lacy and Dorothy Harber joined the ranks of six former Presidents and Nobel Prize winners as Ellis Island Medal of Honor recipients. This is the first time a couple has been honored with this prestigious award which lauds individuals who "exemplify outstanding qualities in both their personal and professional lives."
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"People think we live the "American Dream" because we came from nowhere," said Dorothy Harber. "Life is short. But, it can be lived wide. This is what we have strived to do for almost 54 years."
The dynamic duo continues to create businesses while quietly giving and championing charitable endeavors. The couple's inspirational story traverses meager working class roots, surviving illness and heartache before building one of America's most successful entrepreneurial empires.
For Lacy, growing up money was scarce or non-existent and by the time he was seven years old, he walked sideways due to scoliosis, which left untreated, would likely rob him of walking as an adult. At the time, the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas was developing new treatments for children who were physically challenged without charging for the service. For nine years, the hospital even mailed Lacy and his mother bus fare to travel to Dallas every six weeks for treatment.
"When you start from behind, you have to run a little bit faster to catch up," said Harber.
And run he has, literally. He took his back brace off in high school for a slot on the track team and has never looked back. After graduation, he went to work for G&L Tool Company earning $220 a month. He later bought the company growing it to 14 locations throughout Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma and into the largest independent oil field service company in the United States. In 1996, he bought Little Mineral Marina on Lake Texoma and today owns numerous marinas from North Texas to the Gulf Coast. From 1999 to 2008, he also owned Aviation EMO which employed over 4000 people. Harber has also bought or built 34 banks and his American Bank of Texas continues to grow and is the largest independent banking organization in the Lone Star State.
"It's amazing what you can accomplish when you don't mind who gets the credit," said Harber.
The Harber's have one son, Terry and one grandson. Their daughter, Dee Ann drowned in a water skiing accident when she was 13.
Their life together is punctuated by a "live to give" philosophy. The couple plans to leave ninety-five percent of their vast fortune to the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital of Dallas.
Reflecting on his career, the man who began selling popcorn for a penny says, "I will never retire. The longer I go and the harder I work, the more I have to give. We have one goal- to leave $1 billion to help children."
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