Keith Maddox, of Bowie, Texas, passed away on September 4, 2019. Keith was born on June 1, 1945 in Weiser, Idaho to Dwight and Majore Maddox as the eldest of three children.
Keith grew up on his family’s ranch and began rodeoing at a young age, much like his father. He took to the bull riding and bareback riding and was competing in professional rodeos well before the age of 18. He graduated from Eastern Oregon University in 1971 and immediately began what would be a very long and successful career in the western industry.
Keith worked with several western companies over the years, including Tony Lama, and was a top-performing icon in all of their history books. This hardworking cowboy was as ambitious as they come and was itching to own his own piece of the western industry and he had just the brand in mind.
He set his sights on American Hat Company in Conroe, Texas. He met with the owners, agreed upon a price, only to later find out that the company had been given to their children. Not one to be discouraged for long though, he had a new plan and didn’t waste any time putting it in motion.
In 1996, Keith and his wife, Susan, opened The Best Hat Store in the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards. He not only sold cowboy hats, he learned how to make the best cowboy hat possible and made them right there in the Fort Worth location. Though they no longer make hats there, the Maddox family still owns the retail store over 20 years later.
Seven years after Keith opened The Best Hat Store, he caught wind that American Hat Company was going bankrupt. He wasted no time in buying the business from the bank and began reviving it to its former glory. His first act was to move the company from Conroe to Bowie, Texas.
A mere two years after Mr. Maddox bought the company, he lost $13 million worth of inventory to a grass fire in 2005. Keith put up everything he had and was prepared to lose it all on this dream he fought so hard for. He borrowed money, took out another mortgage on his house, and even used his retirement to get back to square one. He tirelessly poured his blood, sweat, and tears into something he believed in. He didn’t give up, and five years later, American Hat Company was back on track. Keith persevered in life when many would have thrown in the towel. When asked what he thought during those hard times, he says, “I always knew it would turn out this way, I just never knew it would take this long.”
To know Keith was to love him, and to be in his presence was to be in a fit of laughter. He always had a twinkle in his eye and a mischievous grin on his face. His laugh was infectious could be heard around the world when it rang out. The party didn’t start until he got there and it always seemed to follow him wherever he went. He would say, “I’ve never had a bad day. I had a bad 15 minutes one time, won’t ever do that again!” He only believed in having positive times and he was on a mission for everyone around him to believe that, too.
Keith lived his life to the fullest while loving his family and friends with his whole heart. He worked harder than anyone out there and the proof is surely in his legacy. He’s shaped this industry so much, but that is nothing compared to the amount of lives he touched with his kindness.
Keith was preceded in death by his mother and father. He is survived by his loving wife, Susan; son, Bret; and daughters, Treasure and Mercedes. Keith Maddox was a mentor to many, an icon to the world, and a friend to all. He will be missed by so many, but is always smiling down with that twinkle in his eye and a 1000X halo.
American Hat Company