Bill Waugh, ACU alumnus, former ACU trustee and founder of the Taco Bueno fast food chain, died Tuesday in Dallas where he lived.
Waugh, 79, graduated from ACU in 1959 with a degree in fine arts. It was that same artistic eye and an innovative business sense that led him to launch several successful restaurant chains across the Southwest such as Taco Bueno, Casa Bonita, Casa Viva, Crystal’s Pizza and Burger Street.
“He had a strong belief that folks are affected by beauty even when they don’t recognize it,” said Dr. Jack Griggs, Overton Faubus professor emeritus of business and former COBA dean. Griggs was also business partners with Waugh, opening a bank with him in Dallas.
“He was masterful in planning the facilities, giving it a look of elegance and hospitality,” he said. “He would go to Europe and buy art to put in his Mexican food restaurants. He created a culture that wasn’t like anywhere else.”
Waugh was serving as a trustee at ACU and on the COBA advisory board when plans were being made to build a new business building in the early 1980s. He heavily influenced the design of the new building, sending the architects back to the drawing board twice and explaining to them it needed to be a building that was not dated but had a lasting newness.
When construction began a few years later on a new Bible building, Waugh was asked to be chairman of the construction committee.
“So the Bible building is different than COBA, but it has the same look,” Griggs said. “When the Hunter Welcome Center was built, the same architectural features were added. Bill was the originator of bringing beauty to campus.”
He was inspired by Walt Disney and was always studying Disney to learn about family entertainment. His restaurants “” the first of which was built in Abilene on South 1st Street “” and a $10 million water park in Dallas were marks of his success as an entrepreneur and an artist.
He was involved in a number of charities and served as a trustee or regent of ACU, Pepperdine University, Dallas Christian School, the Hockaday School, the Dallas Salvation Army, Dallas Christian Leadership and Heartbeat Charities.