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Shooting the Breeze: Coby D. Shorter III

Lorie and I ran into Coby D. Shorter III at the installation of Gov. Rick Perry‘s portrait at the State Capitol. As a result of working together at the Texas Department of Agriculture, Lorie and I knew Coby’s Colorado County roots. On the spot we asked him to be our fall 2016 “Shooting the Breeze” subject. I’m not sure he knew what he agreed to, but if you know Coby, the only thing bigger than his hugs are his smiles. I phoned him one Thursday morning at his capitol office where he oversees the daily operations of the Secretary of State: elections, business filings, international protocol. Important stuff.

Coby D. Shorter III
Deputy Secretary of State, since 2007
Minister, Rosewood Ave. Baptist Church, Austin, and Providence Baptist Church, Eagle Lake (He does an early-Sunday service at Eagle Lake and then heads to Austin for another.) Eagle Lake native
DOB: July 21, 1966
EDUCATION: Rice Consolidated High School, Texas A&M University, Liberty Theological University
PERSONAL: married to Patricia; father to Coby D. IV (senior at Hyde Park Baptist High School); former president of Texas FFA and former officer of National FFA.

What is your first childhood memory? Going to church . . . such a memorable part of my childhood. (Coby’s father was also a minister, and while they did not live in a parsonage, the church was next door.)

What was your first paying job? Working at the Texas Real Estate Research Center at Texas A&M. That’s actually where I first met Rick Perry—he was on the board at that time.

When I was six, I wanted to be: A preacher. I always wanted to be a preacher.

Deputy Secretary of State Coby D. Shorter III
courtesy photo

Favorite quote? It’s from Revelations 3:8 “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.”

My dad shared that with me. I was out of college, going through some challenges, some transitions. “[A]n open door that no one can shut,” that has been a compass for me. It reminds me to always look for opportunity.

What would I tell a 16-year-old 
Coby Shorter? What you’re doing at 16 will pay off when you’re 50. All that time you are spending in 4-H, FFA and studying—stick with it. It will pay off.

No one has ever said this about me: He’s a sad individual.

Most famous person I’ve ever met: President Ronald Reagan.

Early or Late: Depends. I say I’m right on time. My wife says I’m always early. My mother says I’m late. (Writer’s note: Mrs. Shorter is 83 years old and very active in Wharton and Colorado counties. The day of our interview she had phoned Coby at 5:30 a.m. with a list of things she needed him to do.)

Haven’t been to the grocery store, and dinner time looms: We go to Whataburger.

Favorite vacation spot? Our farm in Wharton County. It’s been in the family for more than 100 years—six generations. My ideal, now mind you I have not done this yet, is to take a week off, head down there and just enjoy the land. Do absolutely nothing.

My favorite teacher is: Ronald Roberts, my high school ag teacher. He wasn’t just an ag teacher—he helped me prepare to be state FFA president and a national FFA officer. We spent much time together. I was best man at his wedding; a scheduling issue was the only reason he wasn’t best man at mine.

What is the biggest compliment you have ever received?(Coby hemmed and hawed. He is a humble man.) Well, I overheard one of the elderly men at our church say: “Our pastor is a good man.” My dad always encouraged me to live my life so that someone might say that about me.

What are you afraid of? Mice. And heights. I’ve tried to work on not being afraid of mice. Hasn’t worked. Patricia and Coby IV know they have to change light bulbs and air filters.

First car? When I served as state FFA president at 17 years of age, I drove a long, blue four-door Crown Victoria. My first trip was from Eagle Lake to Stephenville. I drove a 1981 Oldsmobile Omega all through college. My parents bought it used from someone. It was light brown with a tan top. I kept it until 1995.

What is your dream car? Chevy Duramax with dual wheels, an Alison transmission. Black with tan interior.

Last picture you took with your phone? A receipt from a barbecue place on Tuesday. My family jokes that I could eat barbecue three times a day every day of the week. After the long Fourth of July weekend, Coby IV told me he bet I wouldn’t eat barbecue for a while, but I did—the very next day and have the receipt to prove it.

What famous person do people say you resemble? Uncle Phil from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

Best advice you’ve ever received? From my dad. He said, “Son, read your Bible, and don’t forget to pray every day.”

What is your favorite hymn? 
“Amazing Grace.”

What do you tell people about Eagle Lake? First of all, it’s one of the greatest places in the world to grow up. Don’t die before you visit Eagle Lake—it’s the closest thing to heaven. People are great. Of course, I will always be little Coby in Eagle Lake.

Since this issue of the Register has a recurring theme of perspective, what are your thoughts on the word? Understanding how the experiences you’ve had influence the decisions you make.You are going to hear many voices. I hear many, many voices every day. Your perspective is going to help you figure out which ones to listen to.

article and photos by Katie Dickie Stavinoha

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