YOU DIDN’T KNOW IT TIL’ NOW! Our exclusive look back on every mayor the key city’s ever had, including the current big three!
ABILENE’S RACE FOR MAYOR INTENSIFIES AS ELECTION DAY DRAWS CLOSERPlus our exclusive look back on EVERY Mayor Abilene’s EVER had!By: Jack WalkerABILENE- The competition for the Key City’s new city leader is heating up with the election-day only one month away. Local Businessman Robert Briley, City Councilman Anthony Williams and Richard Kennedy, a tenured Abilene native known for restoring the lives of the marginalized community have all asserted themselves strongly during Abilene’s race for mayor.[[more]] Debates have drawn progressively more spectators and media attention for week’s now with the most recent forum being televised on ABC affiliate KTXS and held at the Paramount Theatre down town. Each mayoral candidate packs a specific punch with their aptitude to run the show from city hall. Briley is a highly-successful entrepreneur, Williams is a dynamic communicator and experienced civic administrator and Kennedy a frugal chief of revival in the momentum of both people and properties.Abilene’s new municipal principal will have hefty expectations and standards attached to their position in succeeding former mayor Norm Archibald. Archibald built a legacy on securing and expanding the city’s water resources, retaining the economy with more modernized parameters and empowering the missions of the DYES AFB.On May 6th the city will cast ballots for the new mayor. Ex-Offenders will be offered an opportunity to vote as well. Here’s a West Texas Tribune Exclusive look back at some of our friendly frontier’s former fathers D.B. Corley,1883-1885 a 33 year-old attorney from Tennessee, traveled to Abilene to attend a town lot sale and ended up sticking around so he had more time to kick it with his friends. He was elected Abilene’s first mayor in 1883 and served a two-year term.G.A. Kirkland 1885-1886 elected in 1885 was another lawyer from the Southern States. A native of South Carolina, Kirkland codified the city ordinances and created new civic positions. He was in office for just a year after health problems prompted a return to his homeland.D. W. Wristen-1886-1891& 1893-1897 was so nice they brought him back him twice. He served from 1886 to 1891 then retired. Two years passed and he was re-elected again for two more terms–a total of nine years at the city wheel.Henry Alexander Porter 1891-1893- Another yankee from the Midwest came to Abilene to launch one of the region’s first insurance businesses. The Missouri native did a deuce in office and was done.A.M Robertson- 1897-1899 Filled the void in city hall after Wristen’s second term expired. He developed Lytle Lake which bolstered the stability of Abilene’s egregious water supply. Like Porter, he was through after two.John Bowyers 1899-1901 Another attorney, Bowyers ordered the reporting of all contagious diseases to city hall. Perpetrators of the demand were even subjected to a hefty fine. Like his last few predecessors he did a two piece and rode off under the West Texas sunset.F.C. Digby Roberts 1901-1904 Originally came to Abilene to start a Lumber Company where the historic Windsor Hotel is now. He was at the helm for three years, got married and shot down to Fort Worth to kick back and be with his bride.R.W. Ellis 1904-1905 Came to the Big Country from Fort Worth and devoted 20 years of service to the city, three of which spent steering from the mayor position. He was a prosperous merchant and military captain.Morgan Weaver- 1905-1907 was a hardware trader that avidly participated in city affairs and was rumored to have supposedly bartered with General Patton here and there. Perhaps Weaver’s ties to the mighty war hero aided his unrivaled election as Weaver was seemingly anointed the mayor of Abilene after no opponent challenged him in running for office.E.N. Kirby- 1906-1919 A decorated attorney that emerged in the key citycity chasing a lady, moved from Anson with his eventual bride to become Abilene’s most tenured chief. Kirby put in work for 13 years as the mayor. Immortalized with the dedication of Kirby Park, he was a generous humanitarian that loved to hunt.Dallas Scarborough 1919-1923 was a Hardin Simmons graduate and credited with building Lake Abilene. The criminal defense attorney represented over 200 alleged murderers and guided the transition of the sewage system into a city operated standpoint.Charles E. Coombes 1923-1927 A Dallas-born District Judge remembered as the touchstone in leadership for the Jones County Bar. The widely-respected democrat served as mayor for four years and padded his accolades as a free- mason, stenographer and county clerk.Thomas E. Hayden 1927-1931 was another attorney and went on to become a District Attorney. Hayden has a promising pedigree to boast after his four year term spearheading city affairs. His son, Tom Hayden is currently the mayor of Flower Mound.Lee R. York 1931-1933 is synonymous with “Poppy Day”, a memorial designation where he encouraged Abilenians to don legion auxiliary poppy to show reverence to fallen soldiers.C.L. Johnson 1933-1937, the son of a Norwegian immigrant took refuge in West Texas moonlighting as a Café owner. Inaugurated the observances of several of President Roosevelt’s proclamations throughout his terms in the mid-thirties.Will Hair 1937-1947, a UT Grad and long-time attorney Hair served the city with resilience for a decade even while an affliction caused him to lose his eyesight during his term. He never complained and a city park was dedicated to him later.B.R. Blankenship 1947-1949, a long time resident of the Big Country and community activist; Blankenship only served for two years but kept on his community affairs. Ben Roscoe III was a trustee for McMurry University and the Hendrick’s Home for Children where a library is named for him.Hudson Smart 1949-1951, a civic servicemen that assisted in drafting a new city charter for the Abilene League of Women’s Voters. Flight enthusiast, Smart chaired the Abilene Chamber’s Aviation committee while practicing law up and down the Red River region.Ernest Grissom 1951-1953, toted the ultimate politician’s pedigree. The procreation of republican and democrat ancestors, Grissom’s heritage was spawned by the early Anglo-Saxons that were corralled by the Vikings during in the 6th and 7th century.C.E. Gatlin 1953-1957 Led the Key City at the mayor position for four years. Gatlin aroused tension with neighboring city Albany after delegating the Abilene water supply to other bordering locations but delaying nearby Shackleford County towns the same favor. Jesse “T-Bone Winters 1957-1959 was more known for being a promising pitcher in Major League Baseball that lacked control on the mound and wasn’t the least bit shy of a fist fight if you pushed him.. Also nicknamed “Buck”, the temperamental athlete played for the Phillies and Giants before coming to Abilene to begin a tire business. The outspoken, cigar-smokin’ Winters was such a dynamic character they named a West Texas Highway after him. George Minter Jr.1959-1961 was Abilene’s civic leader for just a pair of years and brought the businessman style to the political position. Minter was a cattle-rancher that kept a low-profile outside of town but sported the merchant’s swagger with his inner-city department stores. His grandson Justin proudly facilitates one of the country’s most notorious bar-b-que joints, The Pecan Lodge, named for Minter’s off the grid stomping grounds.C.R. Kinard 1961-1963 steered the city wheel more reserved and quietly but managed sparking a few flames while in office. Kinard flossed a city ordinance regulating the transactions and ignitions of the citizens most savored celebratory combustibles by banning fireworks from city limits with the exception of Independence Day displays of reverence reduced to supervision by qualified officials.W.L. Byrd 1963-1966 left a legacy in City Hall as an industrialist. W.L. gathered the media’s attention for dictating his pride in an over-hyped and highly controversial ceremony that linked Abilene with metropolitan juggernauts Austin and Houston in an aviation-based momentum. The flight aficionado piloted the mayor position for three years.Ralph N. Hooks 1966-1969 , was credited for the groundbreaking construction of the Civic Center. Hooks was popular with the citizens for authorizing their presence in close proximity throughout the erection of the project. Onlookers were allowed to shout their suggestions in nearby range as long as they didn’t wander beyond the current concrete. The ‘sidewalk superintendant’ served just three years.J.C. Hunter Jr. 1969-1975, the local boy and graduate of Abilene High and Hardin Simmons generated his capitol as a rancher and petroleum engineer but left his legacy as a preservationist. Hunter spent six years in office aggressively objectifying a solution to the city’s consistent water problems. Fred Lee Hughes 1975-1978 the charismatic peace ambassador refuted hoopla from protesters that alleged Abilene held unfair elections in terms of minority potential to serve as civic leaders. The prohibition against the sale of Alcohol within city limits ended during Hughes term in the late 70’s. Aerial Shot of DYESS AFB taken 1962Courtesy Earl Coon’s Collection via Raysyth.netOliver Howard 1978-1981 helped convince Senator Lyndon B. Johnson that Abilene could hold down an Armed Forces extension. The West Texas Tribune, barely a year old at the time, published a story by Joe Starkey commemorating the 50th birthday of the Dyess Air Force Base . Howard was as a vessel instrumental in landing the city’s longstanding Military Base. Meanwhile Starkey’s story streamlined the late community activist as thefirst mayor to grace our pages. The column came out in our August issue of 2006.Elbert Hall 1981-1984 remembered for his philanthropic personality. A descendant of entertainment industry benefactors, Hall captivated the citizens for his illustrious spirit. The optimist was elected the initial chairman of the Abilene Community Foundation.David Stubbeman 1984-1987 passed away in perhaps the most patriotic fashion possible putting out flags for the Abilene Rotary Club’s Downtown Remembrance Project in 2010. The Navy officer from Midland was a State Representative in the Texas House and an avid golfer endeared for his emphasis on citizenship and service work.Dale Ferguson 1987-1990 Another soldier and Rotary Club member, the U.S. Army pilot was known for his frugality. Ferguson is considered the most fiscally conservative of all the mayors. He passed away in 2013 at the ripe age of 92.Gary D. McCaleb,1990-1999 currently the vice president and professor of management at Abilene Christian University, McCaleb held down a nine-year post atop the city’s city team and embodied a driven focus on solving society dilemmas with practical approaches. Grady Barr 1999-2004 Another community activist still actively making moves from civic standpoints, Barr served the city for half a decade. He remains in the spectrum serving the Abilene Chamber of Commerce, Hendricks Home for Children and Military Affairs Committee. Norm Archibald 2004-2016 vice-president of the Hendrick Health system declined re-election after winning the majority of the votes in five straight campaigns. Another favorite among the people, Archibald pursued a progress with steadfast enhancements of downtown conventions and growth within the festival district. His youthful movements are still shaking up the city landscape in a positive momentum.