The Louise Fund


Clara Louise Porter was born in 1949 in Houston and moved with her parents, Betty and Wayne Porter, and sister Susan (Porter) Miller to the Wilhelm Ranch, Pecan Spring, in 1963, a Texas Century Ranch still in the family today. After graduating from Brady High, Clara earned a degree in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin in 1971. 
She moved to Washington D.C. and was employed by American Airlines after college. During this time she also launched what would become a lifelong culinary career, completing workshops at La Varenne in Paris and Le Cordon Bleu London, eventually assisting local classes in the DC area. After moving back to Austin, she assisted at La Bonne Cuisine School and ultimately began her own catering business, which she ran for three decades.
Clara was inducted into the Dallas chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, an honorary guild for women in the food and wine industry, in 1987.  She enjoyed a multi-decade relationship with the group, serving on many committees and helping with countless events over the years.  During her professional career, she also hosted her own cooking school on occasion and also taught and assisted classes at Central Market in San Antonio.  
In addition to overseeing the operation of Pecan Spring Ranch since 2000, Clara was involved in many agricultural endeavors, sitting on the Mohair Council’s board of directors for eight years and teaching and judging 4-H cooking for decades.  She was a Menard Public Library board member and sat on the board of the Chamber of Commerce in Brady and the Food & Wine Festival in Austin.  She was a member of the International Assn. of Culinary Professionals, earning Certified Culinary Professional status, the only multidisciplinary credentialing designation in the industry and one of only 350 people to do so, at that time, in the world.
An avid student of horticulture, Clara earned the certification of Master Gardener through the Texas AgriLife Extension Service and for years was active with the Central Texas Master Gardeners Association, volunteering in the Brady and Menard communities and with Jr. Master Gardener groups.  Clara served several years on the Texas Forts Trail board of directors and was poised to serve a second three-year term having been reelected to her position in 2012. She was a member of several committees within this regional heritage tourism organization, and was a steadfast ambassador for Menard, Brady and the Hill Country and Forts Trail region as a whole. 

Clara loved all things involving travel and food. Most importantly, she loved to learn and to spread knowledge. This scholarship was created by Clara's daughter after her mother's sudden, tragic death in 2012. The other founders of and contributors to this foundation, along with Clara's friends and family, believe she would have been thrilled to help interested students in Texas achieve a career in a culinary or hospitality field. 


Do you wonder if this kind of career is right for you?

​Do you think a "desk job" sounds boring? Do you like to cook? Do you think working in a big hotel chain sounds exciting? Do you like watching shows like Top Chef or Master Chef and imagine that you'd like to learn how to do what they do? Are you interested in a degree program that will be as practical as it is interesting? Have you participated in 4-H food classes or food shows? Have you raised and/or shown livestock with 4-H or FFA? Do you like the notion of working in a fast paced environment that changes day by day? Do you think perhaps a traditional, 4-year college degree program might not be the best path for you?

An education in the culinary arts, be your focus hospitality or hotel/restaurant management, pastry, food, or wine, can be a rewarding and exciting career path. Learn more about earning a degree by exploring our RESOURCES section. 

Please contact us with any further questions at

​If you're a scholarship candidate and have no extra questions, please send your application to by April 15th of your graduation year. Scholarship recipients will be named by May 1st of each year.  

Louise Fund Officers
Founder & President - Caroline Starry LeBlanc
Secretary - Sarah Starry de Mendoza 
Treasurer - Catherine Kraft