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2011 - 2016 Oral histories

Gerald Adams, born in 1937, shares his philosophy of life and the importance he places on being with and getting to know people different from himself.  He tells his experiences of growing up in East Austin, his career as an FBI agent, followed by his work after retirement to improve public safety, relations between people, educational opportunities, and bringing solace to those who suffer.

Jay Joseph Hoyland Arnette, II was born December 19, 1938 in Austin. With humor and sentiment, he tells about his life growing up in the Rosedale neighborhood, his youth in sports, his experience winning a gold medal with the U.S. Basketball team at the Rome Olympics, his professional life in baseball and basketball, and his transition to a career as an orthodontist.

As President of Franklin Savings, native Austinite Charlie Betts preserved many historic buildings for the bank’s headquarters and branches, including the beautiful Tipps building on Congress Avenue. His stories reflect an outstanding civic leader, family man, former banker, and presently Executive Director of the Downtown Austin Alliance.   


Terrell Blodgett, long time public servant in municipal, state and educational areas in Austin shares insights of a lengthy time period from the 1940’s to present day. Joining city government in 1947, he served in city and then state positions, becoming known as an expert in public service, and evolving into a professorship at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.


Arriving in Austin with his family at two-years-old, Dr. R. Dan Burck grew up wishing he could go to U.T. After graduation, he worked all over the world for Getty Oil, returning in 1984, joining U.T. administration in 1988 and eventually becoming Chancellor of the U.T. System. He is presently Chairman of the Board of American Campus Communities.

Three descendants, Meta Butler, Russ Butler and Helen Butler Young, tell the history of Michael Butler, founder of the Elgin Butler Brick Company and the evolvement of the brick industry.  A prominent Austin family going back five generations, they tell of family connections, family homes and family stories over the years.

Mayor Lee Cooke tells about where he grew up, his time in the Air Force, his move to Austin, employment at Texas Instruments, and subsequent involvement in public service with the Austin City Council, Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, Mayor of Austin and far ranging post-mayoral organizations and activities.

Frank Cloud Cooksey, attorney, served as Mayor of Austin from 1985 - 1988. Cooksey describes his childhood, education, and early professional career in the US Department of Justice.  Known for his environmental concern, he discusses his accomplishments, those that worked with him during his time in office, as well as his activities after his term as mayor was completed.

Moton Crockett tells us about his lifetime in Austin. He shares his experience of being in the band and orchestra at UT, enlistment during WWII, enjoyment  flying a twin-engine plane, love for the UT Longhorns, experience in real estate, memberships and leaderships roles in various civic groups, and longtime membership at Central Presbyterian Church.

John Davol, CPA (1917-2016) visited his grandparents and relatives in Austin during his youth, many of whom lived in the Judges Hill neighborhood.  After working briefly, he moved his family to Austin, working for many years as an accountant for Calcasieu Lumber Company. In this interview, he reminisces about his history and family homes on Rio Grande Street and Balcones.

Gustavo “Gus” Garcia discusses his childhood in Zapata and Laredo through his term as Mayor of the City of Austin. He includes his family history, education, military duty, marriage and family, business career, membership on Austin’s first Human Relations Commission, election to the Austin School Board, election to the City Council, and term as Mayor from 2001 to 2003.

From a family beginning in Austin in the 1840’s, present descendant Judge Joe Hart shares memories of growing up here in the 1950’s, attending U.T. where he met his wife Kay, and providing details on his extended Drake and Hart families. After a private law practice, he became a District Judge for many years and still serves as a visiting judge in Texas.

Andrew Heller met and married Mary Ann in New York, eventually coming to Austin during a long career at IBM. They share memories of their life together as business owners and philanthropists and their special involvement in the arts, helping kids know what the human mind is capable of, whether it’s music or other forms of the arts.

Roger Joseph shares his family history and his grandfather’s, father’s, and his own influence on Austin development.  He provides stories of his experiences growing up under his father’s guidance, with plenty of information about bygone Austin. Mr. Joseph also tells of his time in southern California, his travels abroad and discusses some of his philanthropy.

Carol Keeton, first and only female Austin Mayor to date, tells of growing up in an exceptional family, her experiences on the A.I.S.D. Board of Trustees, serving as Mayor of Austin and the issues confronted during this time, her later political service, and her most proud accomplishment, her 4 sons and 9 grandchildren.

Robert “Bob” King was born in 1918 “where you could sit on the front porch and look across the Red River into Oklahoma, then Indian territory”. After an advenure filled “secret”career working around the world, he moved in 1960 to Austin and recalls many details and stories of Judges Hill residents over the years.

Ken Koock, Austin native, shares the story of his parents buying the Cedar Ridge Chicken Farm where his mother, Mary Faulk Koock grew up. He describes Mary’s evolution as a gourmet cook and hostess and the creation of what became the Austin landmark, Green Pastures restaurant and venue. He talks of family and his own career in the hospitality field.

Mayor Lee Leffingwell tells of growing up in Austin, his time as a pilot in the military and civilian airline industry, and subsequent involvement in public Service with the City Council and as Mayor, along with the issues faced during that time.

Having an work ethic based on growing up seeing how it is to struggle, Mayor Ron Mullen became a policeman at age 21, followed by establishing an insurance business and moving to Austin. Becoming interested in politics, he served on the City Council and as Mayor. Mullen shares his life before, during and after city government, with some insider stories thrown in.

Oldest but "runt of the litter," philanthropist Dick Rathgeber was blessed with a good brain. He shares his family history, past and present and addresses his great success in business, with the added talents of problem solving, fund raising and getting things done for community groups in Austin. He’s a great storyteller, too!

Dr. Jack Schneider recalls his family history in Austin, growing up when there were streetcars and trolleys. Known for using new medicines and technology in the medical field, he talks about his schooling from elementary through college and medical school, as well as his experiences as a doctor at Brackenridge, Austin State Hospital, Mayo’s and in his own practice.

Jane Sibley tells of her time coming to the University of Texas in 1941 to study art and her life in when she moved back in the early 60’s. Known for her exquisite fashion sense, she was a very active member of the art and music community and recognized as the backbone of the Austin Symphony.

Native Austinite George Shelley spent both his childhood and adulthood living in the same house in old central Austin. He is a passionate bridge player and lover of limericks. Known for his memory as the ‘wizard” of Judges Hill, he recollects families, houses, and stories of this area over the years.

Centenarian Fannie Sneed Simnacher talks about being born, raised and living her lifetime on the MacArthur and Hergotz homesteads along the Colorado River in the Montopolis area, loving to eat watercress, and of her paternal grandparent’s homestead, the Sneed Home on Comal Bluff, a hospital station in the Civil War.

Suzy Lindeman Snyder tells of her lifetime spent in Austin, her extensive volunteering and involvement throughout the community, especially in the education field and international hospitality, her family, her designation as Outstanding Hostess of Austin, and her input into the life of Westminster Facility.

Working his way with court jobs through U.T., Mayor Bruce Todd became an accountant, was elected Travis County Commissioner, and left that job to become Mayor in 1991. Todd talks about the issues faced during his time in public service and what he considers the priority issues for Austin today.


Will Wynn had ancestral roots in the area, often visiting family here. Obtaining an architectural degree from A&M, he interned locally, graduated, worked in real estate, attended graduate school, began his Austin career renovating First City Center, and was elected to the City Council and Mayor. He presently is a consultant in renewable energy and sustainability internationally. ***(Session 2)

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