Oral histories are among the AHCA's most important annual projects. Each year our volunteers conduct videotaped interviews with 15-30 people who are Austin history-makers. The interview videos and transcripts are donated to the Austin History Center for future analysis by historians, researchers, and authors who are investigating Austin's past. If you know someone who is important to Austin's history, submit an Oral History nomination form.  

Oral History

Learn more about the Oral History project from chair, Cynthia O'Keeffe.

2019-2020 Oral History Interviewees

Dr. Pat Beckham is a proud graduate of Baylor University and Baylor Medical School. He practiced plastic and reconstructive surgery in Austin for more than 48 years but he is perhaps best known as one of the founders of Austin Smiles, a nonprofit organization, which has made over 100 trips to Mexico and Central America providing free cleft lip and palate surgery for more than 6000 children.

Sinclair Black, widely recognized expert in urban design, architecture, and community advocacy projects, added to his oral history interview by sharing his “private conspiracies” for making Austin a better place through his work. Projects and developments Black references include the Academy House, the Bicentennial Commission’s Austin Creeks book, the AMLI building (one of the first successful revitalization projects of downtown), the first Central Market, and the Seaholm project.

A sixth-generation Texan and running back for the University of Texas, Terry Boothe had the good fortune to grow up on a farm along Onion Creek with a view of McKinney Falls. His lifelong love for Texas began there. He collected Texas antiques from the time he was a young man, eventually purchasing five buildings on East Sixth St. He was an early participant in the effort to revitalize downtown Austin and helped establish the Texas Heritage Songwriter’s Association. Boothe now lives in Bee Cave on the land once owned by his great aunt. His interview was filmed in the "Lonesome Dove Saloon" on the property.

Carrielu Byram Christensen attended Austin High School, Hollins College, and completed her B.A. in English and French at UT. She began doing volunteer work for the Junior League by giving art lectures in public schools and has continued volunteering on boards of many organizations, including Friends of the Governor’s Mansion, the Texas Historical Commission, and the Austin Heritage Society. After years of advising friends on home décor, Christensen set up an interior design business in 1990.

Wilhelmina Delco, her husband, and four children settled in Austin in 1952. She remembers how segregationist customs complicated everyday life, including the seemingly simple act of buying her children’s shoes. Her desire to make life better for her children motivated her career in public service. Delco rose from PTA president, to school trustee as the first African American elected to office in Austin. She served 10 terms in the House of Representatives as the first African American elected at-large in Travis County. Since her retirement, she remains an active force in education.

Betty Dunkerley was in her late 40s when she came to Austin, but she quickly made her mark, first as finance director for the City of Austin, then later as a member of the Austin City Council. She was known as the go- to person, the “finagler” who could take what officials dreamed up and figure out a way to make it happen. In retirement now, Betty stays busy in her adopted home of Bastrop, gardening and volunteering in myriad organizations.

Growing up in the early days of school bussing, Harrison Eppright developed a love for books that fed his life-long learning, which was enhanced through his career with the library. He has an amazing memory and recalls prolific details of his life, the history of East Austin, and the world from the 1950s to the present. For the past 27 years, Harrison has been the face of the Austin Visitor’s Center and Visit Austin. 

Whit Hanks comes from a family that’s been in Austin almost as long as it has existed. He recalls Sunday dinners (and sherry) at Sunny Ridge, a family home now the site of Hancock Center. He tells of his ancestors, childhood, being trained by his father in real estate investment, his days as a real estate developer, his architectural antique business, and his career evolving to the hospitality industry.

Mike Edgar spent his youth in the Deep Eddy neighborhood and Deep Eddy pool. He recalls watching Lorena Carver, dressed in a scarlet bathing suit, and her horses, Snow and Lightning, slide off a 40-foot tower into an 11-foot pool to the wonder and amusement of the crowds. Edgar shares memories of his career as a dentist, the wonders of golf, and his views on the changes affecting Austin.

Margaret Moore, currently Travis County District Attorney, has deep Texas roots. She describes her involvement in politics, beginning in childhood, through the key events in her political career, including her re-election campaign for District Attorney in 2020. Moore also has a history of involvement with the Austin music scene. She shares memories of Kenneth Threadgill and Janis Joplin and describes present gigs with her band.

After finishing college and landing an advanced-technology job, Ronny Mack arrived in Austin in 1984. He went on to create a large portion of the city’s telecommunications infrastructure, the foundation for the major tech hub the city has become. Mack also was instrumental in creating the Austin Music Network and “The Live Music Capital of The World” brand that’s now recognized worldwide.

Ladd Pattillo grew up a country boy. He descended from German families that emigrated to the hill country in Texas during the mid-1800s and settled in the areas we now know as River Place, Avery Ranch, Spicewood Springs Road and Anderson Lane. Pattillo became involved in the military during the Vietnam era and rose to become deputy assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. With a distinguished military, public and community service career, he considers his most important job in life being a father.

Sam Sparks, judge of the U.S. District Court for Western District of Texas, is an Austin native and was an athlete, scholar, and campus leader at UT. On finishing law school, he moved to El Paso and successfully practiced law for many years, returning to Austin as a federal judge to cap his legal career. Well known for carrying heavy dockets of cases, Judge Sparks states, “God's first, family second, and the third is doing what you wanna do.”

Roy Spence is cofounder and chairman of GSD&M, a leading marketing communications and advertising company. Spence and three of his friends at UT started the agency, which has helped grow some of the world's most successful brands. GSD&M has evolved into a visionary company with core values that go beyond making money. Presently, “Reverend Roy” is also cofounder and CEO of the Purpose Institute, a consulting firm that helps people and organizations discover and live their purpose.

Growing up on New York Ave. in East Austin, Thomas Clifton Van Dyke was surrounded by family and neighbors that inspired his love of education and music. He remembers the many landmarks and favorite neighborhood spots, now gone, as well lessons he learned from his childhood mentors and role-models. He also movingly expresses his love for his wife, children and grandchildren. Van Dyke has a lifetime of distinguished service to the Austin community, including as the first African American to hold the positions of Travis County Deputy District Clerk and UT Assistant Director of Admissions.

2018-2019 Oral History Interviewees

Mary Arnold spent her youth in Dallas and shares stories of her University of Texas years, followed by her contributions to Austin civic efforts—integration, Lions Municipal Golf Course, and the environment. She provides insight to help others shape the city as she has since the 1960s.

 

Sinclair Black, an expert in urban design, architecture, and community advocacy projects, began his longtime teaching at UT in 1967 and has received recognitions for his work in private practice (member of the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows, Director Emeritus of Congress for New Urbanism Central Texas, winner of CNU Athena Medal in 2008, and Texas Society of Architects Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016).

 

The Late Roberta Reed Crenshaw, interviewed in the 1980s, talks about her civic contributions: a founder of the Austin Environmental Council and Texas Nature Conservancy, helped beautify the city through her work on the Austin Parks Board and as a member of the National Recreation and Parks Association; as a donator of parkland; and as a founder of numerous cultural organizations including Ballet Austin, Preservation Austin, Austin History Center, Symphony Orchestra Society and Women’s Symphony League, Laguna Gloria, and Umlauf Sculpture Garden.  

 

Travis Eckert talks about life growing up in Hyde Park in the 1930s through 1950s and shares humorous stories of the simpler life then; playing baseball at UT and professionally with the Chicago Cubs; his own successful insurance business; and distinctions (the oldest living member of First Methodist Church, key member of Young Men’s Business League Sunshine Camp and Sunshine Foundation).

Ted Lee Eubanks shares his family history dating from their time in McKinney, Texas during the Civil War, through his birth in Plano, Texas; his University of Houston studies and writing for the Daily Cougar; his interpretive work in Austin including work on the first state birding trails with Texas Parks and Wildlife; and working worldwide through his company, Fermata.

 

David B. Gracy II, Ph.D., expressively recalls his boyhood interest in history and his relative, George Littlefield, who became the subject of his latest work. He talks about his career as a nationally-known archivist in Georgia, as the state archivist of Texas, and professor of Archival Enterprise at UT, with stories from his work on the Southern Labor Archives, Texas State Library and Archives, and the Daughters of the Republic of Texas archives. 

Russell Gregory grew up in West Austin in the 1940s and talks about his musical family, his UT years (possibly the only UT Cowboy to major in sacred music), his involvement in Christian Ashram over the decades, and his careers as an organist and a vocalist while working his day job at Prudential Insurance. During the taping, Gregory sings a cappella as Tevye in an excerpt from the musical Fiddler on the Roof.

Keith Harrell comes from a family with deep roots in Austin & Round Rock. He tells of how his Harrell, Simms, and Landfere ancestors helped shape the area. Harrell talks about growing up in the family’s moving and storage business, interactions he had with the tech companies who moved to Austin, and his role in establishing the Eanes Independent School District and Westlake High School.

Thomas M. (Tom) Hatfield, Ph.D., is an academic, lecturer, writer, and historian who became the first president of Austin Community College, nurturing it into a regional community college, until becoming the UT Dean of Continuing Education and founder of popular lifelong learning programs and tours of World War II battlefields.

 

Nick Kralj vividly describes his “wide open” hometown of Galveston in the 1940s and ‘50s; his entry into the Austin political scene while at UT in the 1960s (friendship with Frank Erwin and working for Governor Connally and Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes); his work as proprietor of The Quorum Club and Nick’s (where Texas politicians socialized in the 1970s and ‘80s); his view of the gambling world; and his current work as lobbyist and consultant with Kralj Consulting, Inc.

La Lotería Mural Artists Felipe "Flip" Garza & Oscar Cortez, longtime artists and leaders in La Lotería Mural Artists, discuss how the East Austin mural by the same name, originally painted in the 1980s, was painted over by SXSW music festival officials. As one of the original artists of the mural, Garza teamed up with Cortez and others to restore it in 2016, securing its valued place in the Austin economic and cultural landscape.

Hans Mark, Ph.D. & Marion Mark, Ph.D., came to Austin as adults. Hans fled Nazi-controlled Germany and Austria to the U.S. where he became Secretary of the Air Force, Deputy Administrator at NASA, and UT System Chancellor. Meanwhile Marion, originally born in Hayward, California, became a curriculum specialist, working in education for fifty-one years. The couple retired in West Austin’s Tarrytown. They share their lively memories of Austin and life in the UT System Bauer House. 

Jose Agustin Martinez, M.D., escaped with his parents and siblings from Castro’s Cuba in 1960 and enjoyed an idyllic childhood in Houston, college life at UT and UT medical schools, and family life and medical practice in Austin as an ophthalmologist at Austin Retina. 

Jean Mather shares her recollections of life in Travis Heights and abroad with husband, architect and professor Bob Mather, and their family. Having earned a master’s degree from Harvard in landscape architecture, Jean broke ground in the field of socially-aware design. Always active in neighborhood design and protection, she co-organized one of the earliest neighborhood associations, South River City Citizens in 1972. 

Wendell W. Mayes Jr. was born on March 2nd, Texas Independence Day, in San Antonio, about a half a mile from the Alamo. He followed in the family broadcasting business, which brought him to Austin as station manager of KNOW in 1970. His career included roles in state and national broadcasting associations. A World War II veteran, Mays currently advocates for veterans and for local, state, national, and international diabetes organizations. 

Anuradha Naimpally was born in Mumbai and raised mainly in Canada, grew to be a modern guru of Indian Classical Dance; performing, teaching, mentoring and collaborating with others at the forefront of dance, cultural, and social causes in Austin since 1989. She recalls the development of Austin Dance India and communicating through dance. 

The Honorable Elliott Naishtat, born in New York, wound up in Texas by accident, having joined President Lyndon Johnson’s anti-poverty program VISTA as a community organizer, before becoming a member of the Texas House of Representatives, where he passed 330 bills during his 26-year tenure. He now serves on the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission. 

 

Mark & J’Net Pratz, discuss their family background timelines in Texas, college experiences at UT, and mutual education careers before their eventual takeover as proprietors of Liberty Lunch, the iconic Austin music venue. 

 

Vonnye Margaret Rice-Gardner lived at same address on East 7th St. for 71 years and dedicated her life to family, friends, education, and community service, especially ACC, Travis County Historical Commission, and Austin Resource Center for Independent Living. 

 

John Oscar Robinson, a fifth-generation Austinite, was interviewed by his cousin Ann Dolce. He shares special memories of school, family gatherings, and history of his family’s business—the Austin White Lime Company—as well as the products, history, and property acquisitions from many family ranches for limestone quarries. Robinson also discusses his involvement in numerous local and state civic organizations.

 

Robert “Bob” Rutishauser explains how, in 1983, Microelectronics and Computer Technology Corporation chose Austin to be its home, including insight regarding how MCC functioned  and affected Austin, changing it into the technology center it is today. Rutishauser also talks about his involvement in community projects that help disadvantaged people obtain education and work opportunities. 

Marc Seriff, an Austin native, was a pioneer in the evolution of technology and is best known for his start up that became America Online, as well as being a civic volunteer and ardent supporter of the arts in Austin. He and his wife Carolyn also produce Broadway plays in New York. 

Joe Stewart recounts his entry into the Air Force and his long and distinguished career there in the Air Police, SAC Elite Guard, and Air Force Intelligence. He talks about his contributions in civilian life that followed as an Austin public school teacher and U.S. census supervisor, as well as his service as deacon of the historic Kincheonville Zion Rest Missionary Baptist Church. Stewart also shares a few of his experiences with prejudice and discrimination. 

Harry Swinney, Ph.D., was born in Louisiana and moved with his family to Austin while his father attended Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Harry studied at Rhodes College and he earned a Ph.D. in physics at Johns Hopkins before returning to Austin in 1978 for a career at UT (researching instabilities chaos theory, collective behavior, the study of non-equilibrium systems, such as turbulence, vortices, ocean energy, and much more) as the S.W. Richardson Foundation Regents Chair of Physics and the Director of the Center for Non-Linear Dynamics. 

 

Jo Betsy Lewallen Szebehely grew up in West Austin, graduated from the UT Law School, and had a long career as an officer of the court; first as an Assistant Attorney General from 1967 to 1972; until retiring from the law in 1999. She recalls stories of being married to Victor Szebehely, a renowned astrophysicist and professor at UT, and talks about her life now at Westminster. 

 

Connie Todd descends from Virginia and Tennessee ancestors who sought refuge in Texas from the Civil War and built homes in the oldest section of Travis Heights. She and her brother grew up with history and artifacts that contribute to her fascinating stories of family, schools, fads, styles, friends, social concerns work in academia, volunteer and socially-responsible activities—including her direct involvement in the movie business and living in her family’s historic home on South Congress. 

 

Glenn West talks about his time as Austin Chamber of Commerce president in the late 1980s and 1990s, during which time Austin built a new international airport, a new convention center, and developed the economy that sustains the Austin region today. He also discusses his involvement with UT, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and his work as a community volunteer.  

 

Delano Womack happily reminisces with four old friends about his student leadership at Austin High School, and the football success he enjoyed there and at UT during the 1950s, leading to his induction into the Texas Athletics Hall of Honor and the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame. 

Margaret Wright talks about growing up in East Austin, the social dynamics she experienced and observed, her formal education, and learning to read music and play piano. For more than 50 years she was an educator and entertainer—teaching by day and entertaining by night—singing and playing piano at clubs, restaurants, churches and events. Now retired from teaching, Wright still entertains audiences two evenings a week at the Skylark Club. 


Peck Young started a career in politics as a child pushing campaign cards outside the Piccadilly Cafeteria on Congress Ave. Later, he led the effort to allow students to register and vote in the city in which their university was located, which changed the dynamics of the Austin City Council in the 1970s. He offers rich insight on local politics, starting from the 1960s.

2016-2017 Oral History Interviewees

Ada Anderson is a civic leader and philanthropist who is highly acclaimed for her civil rights work. She was born October 2, 1921 in Austin, Texas. In 1937, Anderson graduated from L.C. Anderson High School which remained segregated until 1971. She went on to Tillotson College, graduating with her B.S. degree in home economics in 1941. In 1951, she finished coursework for a M.S. degree in library science. However, due to her race, the school refused to allow her to do required fieldwork at the state library. This experience enforced Anderson’s commitment to civil rights.  Anderson is the recipient of many accolades including her entrance in the Texas Black Women’s Hall of Fame and the African American Women’s Hall of Fame both in 1986. In 1999 she co-chaired the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force for the Austin Independent School District.

 

Gene A. Burd, PhD was born in the Missouri Ozarks, and moved to East Los Angeles with his siblings and father after his mother passed away during childbirth. He attended one of the highest rated high schools in Southern California and shares with us his path in higher education and the opportunities he had along the way, from majoring in political science at UCLA, to getting his masters in journalism at UCLA through a scholarship from the Los Angeles Times, all before being drafted to Germany for the Korean War. Dr. Burd obtained his PhD while working at iconic newspapers like The Kansas Star and The Houston Chronicle. His career, and the economy, led him to Austin, where for the next 30-40 years he taught journalism with an interdisciplinary mindset, pushing his students outside of their educational comfort limits. Dr. Burd was also a major proponent of minority rights, especially on campus. 

 

Caswell Family/ Claire Caswell Cunningham reminisces about the Caswell family in Austin and their homes in the Judges’ Hill area. Daniel Haskell Caswell Sr., at age sixty, brought his entire family to Austin in 1895.  He built homes for his children and expanded his already successful cottonseed oil manufacturing business.  Claire, Daniel’s great granddaughter reflects on the five generations of Caswells as she identifies family members in photographs from the late 1800s until the present.

B. Brooks Goldsmith, DDS was born in 1934 and has spent over eighty years of his life in Austin. Brooks shares his memories of a fortunate life: growing up in Aldridge Place, youthful experiences at Wooldridge School and Austin High School, his dental practice of 50 years, his leadership of Young Men’s Business Association and other civic activities, good times at his cabin at the Pearl Lakes Trout Fishing Club in Colorado, his retirement years, and his family. He is currently an At-Large Board Member of the Austin History Center Association.

 

East Austin Breakfast Club / Three Hispanic men, Richard Arzola, Tony Castillo, and David Ruiz Villasana Sr., recount their youth in East Austin, their education and their families. East Avenue, Spanish Village Restaurant, 6th Street, Pan Am Rec Center - this was the neighborhood in which they grew up, played sports, discovered art, worked their first jobs, and formed life-long friendships held together even now with breakfast and family gatherings.  They talk about the changes in the Hispanic culture, politics, social influences, and the gentrification changes to East Austin.

 

Dr. Pat Hayes spent her childhood in New York, attended St. Rose college in Albany NY and graduate school at Georgetown University in Washington DC. She went on to work at St. Rose, moving to Texas when she became President of St. Edwards University. Her accomplishments include Main Building restoration, a recreation facility, and nurture of the migrant farm worker program and the Dallas Cowboys summer training camp.   After 14 years, she went to Seton Hospital Administration and greatly expanded hospital sites and satellite offices during her time there. Pat, long known for participating in civic activities, since retiring has been busy with her family, her Maine property and volunteering at Foundation Community.

Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby recalls highlights during his 24 years serving as lieutenant governor, as well as early memories of Austin. He comments on his relationships during his time in Texas state government and what each of those relationships meant to him, along with a few stories on each. Hobby comments on his advocacy for public education and healthcare, as well as higher education. Guests included in the speaking list shared their favorite memories of Bill Hobby while in office.

Mary Morris Hornsby, born in New York City, moved to Austin where her parents, both from well-known families, originated. Her father, Dr. Morris, delivered thousands of babies over a sixty-year period. Mary grew up in Austin, attended Austin High, married Michael Hornsby, a Navy pilot and had two children. The Hornsbys, original settlers of the Austin area, helped create and settle Waterloo, later Austin. Hornsby Bend is named after their land on the Colorado River. Mary’s mother, the Drakes, founded Calcasieu Lumber Company, her aunt, Katherine Drake Hart, helped found the Austin History Center. She has contributed all her life through the Junior League, the Austin Settlement Home, Special Olympics and other activities and philanthropy.

 

Dr. Emma Lou Linn talks about her public and private life, interests and impact on Austin. She was born in Rocksprings TX and attended UT Austin, where later she got a doctorate degree. Her involvement in historical preservation, as well as women’s movements, led to being elected to the Austin City Council in 1975, where she embraced and supported human rights for all peoples. Since, she has been a full-time faculty member at St. Edwards University, contributing to preservation of the historical Main Building, women’s athletics and the psychology department.

Ramiro “Ray” Martinez provides animated memories of growing up in Texas and northern Mexico, and his college years in Austin in the late 1950’s, his time in the military and his experiences with discrimination in searching for a job upon his return to Austin. He describes his early duty with the Austin Police Department and then recounts his historic participation in the Tower sniper event of 1960. Ray also tells about his important work as a Texas Ranger fighting graft in south Texas.

 

Ada McElhenney takes us through the decades of her life, with memories as colorful and bright as her paintings, from age 5 to the present, encompassing downtown Austin, her arts education, her youth and marriage to Austin’s first allergist, their collection of Latin American art, her involvement with the Austin arts scene, Laguna Gloria Museum of Art and the University of Texas. She tells about her garden and her friendship with Lady Bird Johnson. Ada talks about her time in New York City, her paintings, the arts, her travels and her children and grandchildren.

Clift Price M.D. arrived in Austin with his mother and siblings in 1940 to begin his freshman year at U.T., attended medical school, and returned in 1953 to practice as a beloved pediatrician and serve in various medical positions until his retirement in the nineties. He shares memories of family and early years in Austin, his medical career, his crucial role in introducing fluoridation, his thoughts on and about practicing medicine, his involvement in childrens’ organizations, his retirement and children and grandchildren. 

Joseph Pearson Quander, Jr. M.D. was born in Washington D.C. in 1934. After Yale and Howard Medical School, he served as an Air Force surgeon. He was the first Black physician at the University of Texas Health Center and had his own OB-GYN practice. Very involved in the community since he moved here in 1969, he includes interesting information about the effects of the Roe versus Wade Supreme Court Case in Austin, as well as the gaining for African-Americans to live where they chose in Austin of the 1970’s.

Julian Read, public relations guru, was literally an “Eyewitness to History” as he rode in the White House press bus behind President John F. Kennedy’s limousine in Dallas that fateful day in 1963. He had more than a passing interest since his long-time client, popular Texas Governor John Connally, was in that same car.  Connally survived and Read became the man to tell the world that the President had not.  Representing a wide variety of public relations clients from Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus to the Las Vegas spectacle of illusionists Siegfried and Roy, Read cut a wide swath in Texas politics and show business as he adroitly presented his clients to the world.

Connie Wilson Roberts was born to a family with strong Central Texas roots, moved to Austin when she was very small, and after observing her mother and grandmother in the family wholesale produce business, she majored in business at the University of Texas, where she met her husband. They moved to Washington, D.C. in 1942, and while they visited her parents in Austin often, Connie did not move back here until almost seventy years later. Connie and her brother were main child characters in a 1930 second-grade reader, the first to use photographs; this book and her information about the homes and people in the photos is an unique resource about Austin’s past. With her two children, her wonderful memory, and her precious laugh, she shared many memories of her youth and life in Austin in the early 20th century.

 

Neal Spelce’s childhood education and love of books propelled him to the University of Texas at a young age, resulting in three Bachelor of Arts degrees. He spent most of his life in Austin, where he delivered news from the original television station, was co-owner of radio stations, had a successful advertising and public relations firm, was involved in television production and contributed to Austin in his civic activities. He is also well known for his association with LBJ and the Johnson family. Neal shares all of that and more about famous people he had the opportunity to meet and know.

Walter Timberlake was born and raised in Austin, and thanks to his gift of an amazing memory, he is able to share with us a wealth of detail about the Austin of his youth and about his work and life experiences from a very early age. Mr. Timberlake has been heavily involved in unions and in Austin, Travis County, and Texas politics.  Likewise, he has dedicated time to helping the disadvantaged, his church, and various nonprofit projects. He passes away in 2019.

George Wunderlick grew up in Dallas developing a life-long love for tennis. He volunteered for the Army in his junior year of college at A&M and served in WWII in the Pacific Arena. His multifaceted career led him back to Austin, and in retirement he assists veterans with PTSD, is “Mr. Somebody” with the Boys and Girls Club, serves his church, St. Ignatius Martyr, in many of their outreach services, and has been a part of a prayer group named Carmelite for over seventy years.

2015-2016 Oral History Interviewees

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 Mary grew up and her evolution as a gourmet cook and hostess in what became an Austin landmark, Green Pastures, in the venue and restaurant business. 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 área 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 área, 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 área, 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.

O. Henry Room
Austin History Center
810 Guadalupe
Austin, TX 78701

Mailing: 
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Austin, TX  78768-2287   

 

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512-270-0132

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