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"Mr. Arlington", Tom Vandergriff Dies

Former Arlington Mayor, Tom Vandergriff
Former Arlington Mayor, Tom Vandergriff

By BJ Austin, KERA News

Dallas, TX – Friends and colleagues are remembering former Tarrant County Judge and Arlington Mayor Tom Vandergriff. KERA's BJ Austin says the man called "Mr. Arlington" died Thursday afternoon.

Tom Vandergriff was Mayor of Arlington for 26 years; first elected in 1951 at age 25. Former Arlington Mayor Elzie Odom says Vandergriff put Arlington on the map.

Odom: He was solely responsible for bringing the Texas Rangers to Arlington. He was almost solely responsible, I mean without help, for bringing General Motors here. And so many other things I could go on and on and on with. He set the pace for Arlington's growth.

After serving as Mayor, Vandergriff was elected to Congress for one term. He later served 16 years as Tarrant County Judge. Vandergriff worked in the "family" business, a chain of car dealerships, starting with Vandergriff Chevrolet and Vandergriff Buick.

Former Mayor Odom says family was always a priority for Vandergriff.

Odom: Tom was such a good family man. I have a picture of me, my wife, Tom and his wife that I've always cherished, and I'll cherish is forever. I just thought the world of him.

Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief - in a statement - calls Tom Vandergriff a dear friend and a champion for Tarrant County -- a respected statesman who lived a full, complete and meaningful life. Mayor Moncrief adds that it's fitting Vandergriff lived long enough to see his beloved Texas Rangers in the World Series.

In 2004 Tom Vandergriff was was inducted into the Texas Ranger Baseball Hall of Fame, along with baseball legends Buddy Bell and Ferguson Jenkins. His statue stands in Vandergriff Plaza, near center field in the Rangers Ballpark.

Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley served on the commissioners court with Vandergriff and succeeded him as county Judge.

Whitley remembered Vandergriff as a visionary:

Whitley: "He was the youngest mayor of Arlington. He brought General Motors to Arlington and Six Flags. He created and had the idea and was the first head of the Council of Governments. And this is a Council of Governments that is known nationally as one of the best in the country. And thank the Lord he got to see the Rangers in the World Series before he passed away"

Tom Vandergriff was 84.

Email BJ Austin