Tate Branch


Born February 12, 1962.  At an early age, Tate’s dream was to become a professional race car driver.  

  •  1980 Graduated from Artesia High School

  •  1980-1984 Attended college at Lubbock Christian University and ENMU in Portales.

  •  1984 Started working at Navajo Refining Company along with following his racing dream

  •  1992 Became a professional race car driver in the NHRA Funny Car Division

  •  2000, 2002, 2003-Three time Funny Car Division 4 Champion, 2002 Driver of the Year Award 

  •  2002 opened Quarter Mile Service Center in Artesia

  •  2005 sold Quarter Mile Service Center


 After Tate’s successful racing career, he became a prominent businessman.  

  •  2006 bought first dealership located in Artesia, known now as Tate Branch Dodge 

  •  2008 purchased second dealership in Hobbs, New Mexico 

  •  2011 purchased third dealership in Carlsbad, New Mexico 

  •  2017 NMBSA Excellence in Student Achievement Award from the Artesia Public Schools 

  •  2019 Trustee of Free Enterprise of Lea County Award from the University of the Southwest.

     Serves on several boards, including University of the Southwest, Artesia Economic Development

     Committee, Lea County Economic Development Committee, President of Changing Lives Coalition,

     President of Artesia Rural Water Coop, past President of Artesia Chamber of Commerce 

Tate feels his success in both racing and business have all been blessings from God.  There have been many people who have touched Tate’s life and helped him to be the successful businessman he is today.  At this point in Tate’s life, his Christian values have led him to focus on giving back to the community and others. He stands by the belief that it is better to be a giver rather than a taker. 


Jesus said: “for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.  Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” Matthew 25: 35-36; 40. 


The spoken words of Jesus are printed in red in the Bible which inspired the naming and formation of The Written In Red Foundation.   It is Tate’s wish to help others by continuing to give through The Written In Red Foundation.  

Tate is married to wife Kandi and they have three children: Houston, Kassidy, and Marleigh. 




The Written in Red Foundation affirms its founder’s vision of striving to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Artesia and Southeast New Mexico. The Written in Red Foundation pursues this vision objectively by promoting education, supporting health care access, providing crisis assistance and offering spiritual guidance.




Dr. Crit Caton - Scholarship Coordinator 

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Crit grew up In Hobbs, New Mexico.  He graduated from Hobbs High School.   He attended NM Junior College, where he earned an Associates degree.  He then attended Texas Tech University and received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Education.  He received his Doctorate from New Mexico State University.   Crit comes from a family of educators.   Crit impacted New Mexico public schools for over three decades as a teacher, coach, athletic director and administrator.


Since his days as a student and basketball player in Hobbs NM, Crit knew the value of teamwork, goal-setting, and determination. He has earned the reputation of a true leader because of his willingness to go the extra mile, whenever, wherever, and for whomever needs his assistance. Examples of his service include mentorships to teachers, guidance to students and a spirit of cooperation and collaboration with his peers.  He has received many awards for his service in education including New Mexico Superintendent of the Year in 2016 and induction into the New Mexico Activities Association Hall of Fame in 2020.  Dr. Caton has also served as the President of the New Mexico Coalition of Educational Leaders and the New Mexico Superintendent’s Association.

Crit and his wife Carrie, a retired educator, have two children who both live in Artesia.  Their daughter Kirstin Wachter (husband Robert) (daughter Kritley Sue) is an 11th grade English teacher at Artesia High School. Their son Koby Caton (wife Faith) (daughter Kaylynn Vivian) is the Director of Sports Medicine for the Artesia Public School District.  

Kandi Branch - Outreach Projects Coordinator

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Kandi was born and raised in Artesia.  She knew from an early age that she wanted to teach and work with children.  She graduated from Artesia High School and attended Eastern New Mexico University in Portales where she received degrees in Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education with Minors in Music Education and Language Arts/English.


Kandi recently retired from Artesia Public Schools where she taught fifth grade, kindergarten, and most recently, first grade at Yeso Elementary.  She’s an accomplished musician and has taught private piano and flute for many years.  She  has also served as a piano accompanist for junior high and high school students during Band Solo and Ensemble competitions.  She is very active in her church where she’s a member of the worship team, playing piano and keyboard.   


Kandi, her husband Tate, have three children.  Houston, is a senior at Texas Tech University majoring in Agriculture Business.   Kassidy is a sophomore at Lubbock Christian University majoring in Early Childhood Education.  Marleigh is a senior at Frenship High School and stays busy with school, church, and community activities.




Tate Branch – President

Vernon Asbill - Vice President

Jerri Shields - Secretary

Johnny Shuman - Treasurer

Robby Ballew

Joel Miller

Terah Sexton

Anna Whitmire