Tanya Ragan, Faith Christian School grad and
president of Wildcat Management, a real estate developer in Dallas
Rochester Magazine: It’s TAN-ya?
Tanya Ragan: Yes.
RM: But everyone must call you TAHN-ya.
TR: Tonya, Tanya … I answer to both. My mother liked the name. She liked the name Tanya Tucker.
RM: And your parents are still in Rochester?
TR: My dad is Dale Ragan. My mom is Bonnie. My mom was born and raised in Rochester. She started out working at Mayo and eventually stayed at home. Dale is a developer. He works in real estate and development. For years he owned U.S. Auto and Marine, a popular boat and car dealership.
RM: OK. So this interview came about from the power of the press release. I happened to get a presser saying you received the Preservation Achievement Award from Preservation Dallas.
TR: We bought the Historical Liberty State Bank Building, the oldest commercial building in downtown Dallas, which was slated for demolition to make room for a new highway. It was a few blocks away from the farmers market, which I was helping with the revitalization of. We bought the building for $1. The building was dismantled brick by brick, numbered and archived, and relocated. Today the building looks almost exactly like it did prior, just a new location.
RM: Your dad recently raced a 1972 Sno Jet Thunder Chicken in some sort of vintage snowmobile race. And your brother won a trophy for his 1929 Ford Model A. The historical preservation must run in the family.
TR: Yes. And we were a big car family—one that loves vintage cars.
RM: What do you drive?
TR: Um, I drive a Nissan Xterra.
TR: Well, it has a lot of added accessories—overhead lights, lift kit, running boards. You have to look a little tough when you are working with these guys in Texas.
RM: You went to Faith Christian?
TR: I grew up in Rochester. Went to Faith Christian School, K through 12. I was one of six students graduating in my class. The graduation classes ranged from two to a few more. My class size was considered a large size.
RM: I guess that guaranteed you’d make the basketball team.
TR: It actually did. We had a pretty good basketball team because we played with each other since we were young. But we didn’t have a deep bench.
RM: How was it going to a school with a graduating class of six?
TR: It was all I knew. I started out in nursery school with the church. At that time the school was in an old barn next to the church. I can remember being in the third grade when we piled our school supplies onto our chair and pushed our chairs up the hill to the new building, our new school. If you’ve seen the big “Jesus Saves” sign on Marion Road, that was our new school.
RM: Then what?
TR: I graduated from high school and first attended RCTC. Graduating from a school that was unconventional, like Faith, the colleges didn’t know how to assess me. … I had to go to community college to get a history that a typical college could understand. From there I went to U of W. It was definitely a big change. There were more people in one class than in my entire school.
RM: Favorite restaurant in Rochester?
TR: I love Dairy Queen. I miss Dairy Queen. When I come home and visit and DQ is closed, I’m so upset.
RM: How is your brother doing?
TR: Yes. Todd got a kidney transplant at Mayo Clinic when he was 5 years old …
RM: I read he was the youngest kidney transplant recipient at the Clinic at that time.
TR: Yes. He had his second transplant in 2010 from a kidney from our father. Last year he was transplanted with his third. It gave him his life back again. He’s getting ready to get married this fall.
RM: I’m going to try to guess your perfect day: Smoothie at the farmers market, attend a homelessness commission meeting, work on a preservation project, post on Facebook regarding homelessness, dinner at a taco truck.
TR: I’m a big advocate for the homeless in Dallas. I served on the City of Dallas Commission for Homelessness trying to come up with answers for our growing homeless population. I’m involved in the city and in making downtown a great place to live and work, preserving its history. Downtown Dallas feels like a really small community. I live downtown, I work downtown. … I want to be a part of the progress in downtown Dallas, to make a difference in the community where I live.
RM: Was I right about the smoothie and the taco truck as well?
TR: Sometimes. Mostly I’m a big Diet Coke and coffee fan.
RM: Favorite building in Rochester?
TR: Oh, the Plummer Building. When I’m in Rochester I love to go downtown and I love to walk over to the Plummer Building. I love the architecture. You go inside and see the ornate details. You can’t replicate that. You take the elevator up and see the library and the museum. It’s beautiful and gorgeous. It’s so important for the history of Rochester. I love to walk around downtown Rochester. I can’t believe how much it’s changed. I talk to friends who I grew up with in Rochester and they don’t see it like I do. I love to shop and eat in downtown Rochester.
RM: When you moved to Dallas …
TR: I was thinking about your question on favorite restaurants in Rochester. DQ was a horrible answer. My favorites are Redwood Room (ambience), Moka (seriously love their coffee), and Canadian Honker (their harvest oatmeal is fantastic). I am such a food person … I can’t believe my single answer was DQ.
RM: I liked your first answer. I’m leaving it in.
RM: Top three movies of all-time?
TR: I like action. Love James Bond movies, they are my favorite. My favorite James Bond was definitely Pierce Brosnan. Love the Bourne movies. I’m not a big fan of Tom Cruise, but like his action movies. I love The Fast and The Furious. I miss Paul Walker. I love cool cars.
RM: Which is why you have a Nissan Xterra.
TR: I did mention it was tricked out with over-head lights, lift kit, and running boards, right?
RM: Yes, you did.