The Spanish word pampas meaning "plains" comes from the Quechua (kech-oo-uh) word for "plain." Like the Inca, the Quechua are South American Indians who speak the Quechuan language, a branch of Andean-Equatorial stock.
Pampa is the second largest city in the Panhandle of Texas.
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As of the census  of 2000, there were 17,887 people, 7,387 households, and 5,074 families residing in the city. The population density was 2,050.0 people per square mile (791.1/km²). There were 8,785 housing units at an average density of 1,006.8/sq mi (388.5/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 83.69% White , 3.85% African American , 1.07% Native American , 0.41% Asian , 0.03% Pacific Islander , 8.22% from other races , and 2.73% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 13.72% of the population.
There were 7,387 households out of which 30.4% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 55.9% were married couples living together, 9.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.3% were non-families. 28.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 15.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 2.94.
In the city the population was spread out with 25.9% under the age of 18, 7.4% from 18 to 24, 25.4% from 25 to 44, 22.6% from 45 to 64, and 18.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 39 years. For every 100 females there were 91.0 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.8 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $31,213, and the median income for a family was $39,810. Males had a median income of $32,717 versus $20,492 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,791. About 12.1% of families and 14.8% of the population were below the poverty line , including 19.7% of those under age 18 and 9.4% of those age 65 or over.
James H. Ayres (born 1937 and a 1955 graduate of Pampa High School) was a United States Air Force lieutenant colonel whose plane disappeared on January 3 , 1971 , over Laos . His remains were detected through mitochondrial DNA , according to Larry Greer, spokesman for The Pentagon 's POW/MIA Office. His funeral was held on August 10 , 2007 , thirty-six years after his death. Ayres was also a graduate of Texas Tech. His widow, Brenda Ayres , lives in Dallas.
Duane "Dog" Chapman , from Pampa Texas is now a Bounty Hunter and a star of A&E Show "Dog the bounty hunter.
Miles Bateman Ph.D. , originally from Pampa, is a St. Louis -based Christian televangelist/ author and retiree from the United States Air Force who hosts Christian Commentary , which airs internationally.
Joe B. Bowers, Sr. (1871-1935), a rancher , oilman , and Gray County assessor was the wealthiest man in Gray County at the time after oil was discovered on his ranch in 1927. A native of Bell County in central Texas, he first settled in Roberts County . He was married to the former Lizzie Martin (1873-1930).
Warren Chisum , an ally of fellow Republican Speaker Tom Craddick of Midland , represents Pampa in the Texas House of Representatives .
C.E. "Doc" Cornutt (born 1949), president of Dallas -based Argent Property Company, is a 1967 graduate of Pampa High School.
Michael DeWitt , Olympic bicyclist
Gerald J. Ford , most recently the Chairman of the Trustees of Southern Methodist University in Dallas , and former Chairman and CEO of the once NYSE publicly-traded company Liberte Investors, and former Chairman and CEO of the California-based Golden State Bancorp (sold to Citigroup in 2002 for $6.1 Billion), is a graduate of Pampa High School and Southern Methodist University in Dallas. The Gerald J. Ford Stadium on the campus of SMU in Dallas honors Pampa's Gerald Ford after he donated over $20 million of the estimated $42 million to build the on-campus stadium that replaced venerable old Ownby Field.
Woody Guthrie , the songwriter , moved to Pampa with his father Charles Guthrie and attended high school there briefly. He purchased his first guitar in Pampa and painted the Harris Drug Store sign complete with his signature, which was sandblasted away in 1977.
Kenny Hebert (born 1946), an All-American football player at the University of Houston , is a 1964 graduate of Pampa High School .
Timothy Dwight Hobart (1855-1935) was a landowner and rancher , affiliated with the JA Ranch , who was elected mayor of Pampa in 1927.
John Jenkins , former University of Houston head football coach, and former head football coach of the Ottawa Roughriders of the Canadian Football League , is a 1970 graduate of Pampa High School and the University of Arkansas .
Mary Jane Rose Johnson (born 1950), renowned opera star, is a 1968 graduate of Pampa High School and Texas Tech University in Lubbock .
Billie Wayne Lemons (1955-2008), Church of Christ minister in Lubbock and player for Cleveland Browns in 1977
Randy Matson , a former World Champion shot putter , an Olympic Gold (Mexico City-1968) and Olympic Silver (Tokyo-1964) medalist, and James E. Sullivan Award Winner as the nation's top amateur athlete (1967), is a native of Pampa and graduate of Texas A&M University in College Station .
T. Boone Pickens , chairman of the private equity firm BP Capital Management, and former CEO of Mesa Petroleum, currently lives on his ranch north of Pampa.
Robert "Bob" Price (1927-2005), Republican U.S. Representative and State Senator from Pampa, though originally from Kansas , was a Gray County rancher for most of working life.
Zach Thomas , National Football League linebacker. Thomas attended Texas Tech and was inducted into the university Hall of Fame in 2006.