‘Little Red Book’ author dead at 77
Friday, May 8, 2009
DALLAS — Bud Shrake, the co-author of “Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book” who was known to have had drinks with Jack Ruby and was the longtime companion of former Texas Gov. Ann Richards, died Friday. He was 77.
He died of lung cancer at an Austin hospital, son Ben Shrake said.
Sports writer Dan Jenkins, who attended junior high and high school with Shrake and later worked with him at the Fort Worth Press and Sports Illustrated, called Shrake “a closet intellectual and the best-read person I ever knew.”
“He had prepared for this for the last several months,” Jenkins said. “Knowing Bud as I did, he was ready to take on another great adventure.”
Shrake wrote at least 10 novels, including “Blessed McGill” in 1968 and “Custer’s Brother’s Horse” in 2007. He collaborated with Willie Nelson on a biography, and his 1992 golf book with Penick was a best-seller.
Edwin “Bud” Shrake started his journalism career at the Fort Worth Press. He covered police, often from a bar across the street from the station, said Gary Cartwright, a longtime friend who was then covering the same beat for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. A copy boy who monitored police calls would tip them off to stories, and they would race to the scene.
Shrake later worked for the Dallas Times Herald and The Dallas Morning News before moving on to Sports Illustrated.
He was still working in Dallas in November 1963, when he and Cartwright decided to line the motorcade route to catch a glimpse of President John F. Kennedy. Shrake used to tell people that Kennedy winked at him as he rode past, as if to say “You boys stay out of trouble,” Cartwright said.
Shrake and Cartwright were roommates, and their apartment was often the site of parties after the nightclubs closed.
“We knew all the nighttime characters, and Ruby was a guy we knew,” Cartwright said, referring to the killer of Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. “When the bars and clubs would close, all the people would go by our apartment almost every night, and Ruby was there frequently.”
Jenkins called his friend “an easy writer, a fast writer, a creative writer.”
“We were into smoking and drinking and hanging out, like most writers in the old days,” Jenkins said. “I think journalism was a stopover for him. But he was awfully good at it.”
Shrake was married three times, including twice to his wife Joyce. He was also married to Austin real estate agent Doatsy Shrake from 1966 to 1980.
Shrake was close friends with Richards. His son said they were “longtime companions for 17 years” until her death in 2006. He will be buried next to her, Ben Shrake said.
“They were both very mysterious about it and when you would ask them, they said, ‘We intend to grow old together,’” Cartwright said.
Shrake is survived by another son, Alan; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
Funeral services are Tuesday in Austin.