First black Fort Worth city manager dies after battle with cancer at 74

A public servant whose leadership helped position Fort Worth for a major growth spurt died over the weekend.

Former Fort Worth City Manager Bob Terrell passed away on Saturday after a battle with pancreatic cancer at 74. He remains Fort Worth's longest tenured city manager and the first ever African American to hold the position.

"Fort Worth has been blessed to have some good city managers over the years. There was no one better than Bob Terrell,” said Bob Ray Sanders, retired Star-Telegram columnist.

Sanders said the era through which Terrell served in the 1990s involved the city battling an economics dilemma, a challenging gang violence problem and its own identity crisis.

"He would go to the city council and suggest, ok here's my suggestion. You can do this if you want to or here's what I'm going to do as city manager with police and fire. If you don't want to do it, don't do it. But I'm telling you this is the best way to do it. That's just how he operated,” Sanders said.

At the helm from 1992 to 2000, Terrell's leadership ushered in the ambulance service Medstar, Texas Motor Speedway and a city gang intervention program that enlisted help from former gang members themselves.

Assistant City Manager Fernando Costa has fond memories of Terrell. 

"He was fair. He always listened to all sides of every issue and did his homework before making a decision,” Costa said.

One of Terrell's final decisions was a request that gifts in wake of his passing support his fraternity, the Fort Worth alumni chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi and its nonprofit program to help disadvantaged youth in the community he loved.

Terrell was preceded in death by his wife. He is survived by a daughter, Kelley Carson of Austin. His funeral is Wednesday at Shiloh Baptist Church in Fort Worth at 2 p.m. He will be buried in his home state of Mississippi.

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