The politician who put Arlington on the map, made a huge impact on Tarrant County and North Texas, and was pretty much the embodiment of political integrity, will be buried on Friday.
If anyone deserves a huge public turnout it’s Tom Vandergriff.
“He was a unique leader who saw opportunities where others saw obstacles, and who could find solutions when others found problems,” Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley said.
Vandergriff’s fingerprints and DNA are all over the Texas Rangers, General Motors, Arlington Memorial Hospital, Six Flags Over Texas, Interstate 30, University of Texas at Arlington, Tarrant County College, Lake Arlington, North Central Texas Council of Governments, and the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.
Best of all, he remained kind, funny, and optimistic while serving the public all those years.
In Politics of Arlington Texas (2001), author Alan Saxe characterized Vandergriff as the city’s “first real patriarch and political power.”
He was involved in controversial decisions. Nobody serves as mayor, congressman, and county judge for the better part of 50 years without rubbing people the wrong way.
That’s what leaders do. They piss off people. Few decisions are ever clear-cut and simple.
But the best leaders make their choices by relying on common sense, ethics, fairness, and honesty.
And the best leaders, including Vandergriff, deserve a big send-off when they die.
A public visitation is from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Tarrant County Sub-Courthouse, 700 E. Abram St. in Arlington.
A memorial service is at 1 p.m. the next day at Texas Hall, 701 W. Nedderman Dr., on the UT-Arlington campus.