As 2019 draws to a close, it will likely be remembered as a year that took a great deal of leadership from the Texoma area. The year also saw the loss of retired State District Court Judge Lloyd Perkins, Denison statesman Bill Lindsey, former Grayson County Tax Assessor Collector John Ramsey and in March, the death of legendary Congressman Ralph Hall, 95, who had been returned to his post in 17 elections before he was unseated in 2014 to current U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe.
Ralph Hall, Congressman
“He didn’t really care what your policy was. He didn’t care if you were liberal or moderate, conservative, Democrat or Republican or Indian chief,” said Sherman attorney Bob Slagle of Hall at the time of Hall’s death. “If you got a problem and you were in his district, and you asked him for help, you were going to get it.”
Slagle had worked for Hall in the past and had known him since he was a was a freshman senator. Slagle had once been the Texas Democratic Party Chairman and Hall, who was a Republican when he left office, was once a Democrat. He switched parties his last decade in office. The former Navy pilot went on to hold sway on the Energy and Commerce Committee, where he championed oil and gas concerns, and on the Science Committee where he championed the space program.
Stepping up for programs and businesses that were important for his district was par for the course to Hall, according to Retired Grayson County Judge Horace Groff.
“My recollection is that he was the most accessible state or national elected official I worked with. If he could not take your call at that time, you would get a prompt return and a later response to your inquiry,” Groff, who served as Grayson County Judge for 21 years, said of Hall at the time of his death. “Constituent service was his hallmark, whether it was a local government issue, contact on your behalf with a federal agency or accommodating visitors in Washington.”
Lloyd Perkins, Judge
Hall was not the only long-time leader the Texoma area lost in 2019. Judge Lloyd Perkins also died in March. Perkins, retired judge of the 59th state district court from 1989 to 1996, helped create the local Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA). Perkins’ career in public service began in 1956 as an assistant city attorney for Fort Worth. In 1959, he became an assistant United States District Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas and served in that capacity until 1963. From 1973 to 1976, he was in private practice in Sherman. In 1976, he became judge in the Grayson County Court-at-law No. 2 and stayed there through 1989. In 1989, he became the judge of the 59th State District Court in Grayson County.
“He loved people and often found ways that he could enrich their lives through his Christian faith, youth organizations, service clubs and fraternal relationships,” Groff said at the time of Perkins’ death. “As an attorney, Judge Perkins often gave his time and talent to provide legal assistance to non-profit groups that were being formed to meet human needs. As a Judge he worked hard to dispense justice, treat those who came before him with respect and apply the law equally, regardless of the persons social or economic status. As a new County Judge he mentored me on many occasions with good counsel and sound legal advice. He was a great friend who could be trusted on any matter.”
William “Bill” Lindsay, Former Denison Mayor
In October, the area lost Colonel William “Bill” Lindsay, USMC Ret., a former mayor of Denison from 1999 to 2006.
Robert Brady, who succeeded Lindsay as Denison mayor, said Lindsay was “a passionate lover of Denison. There was no doubt about that. He was a true Denisonian. He bled black and gold.”
Brady said Lindsay was the town’s chief cheerleader — but he didn’t just cheer for the city. He served as the board president of Texoma Council of Governments, board president of Small Business Commissioners, past president of the Association of Mayors, Council Members and Commissioners and the Texas Department of Transportation Commissioner for Highway Land Acquisition and also served on TML’s General Government Committee. Appointed by the Governor, Col. Lindsay additionally served on the board of the State of Texas Small Business and Industrial Development Corporation.
John Ramsey, Grayson Co. Tax Assessor Collector
The year started out with the loss of John Ramsey, who served as Grayson County Tax Assessor Collector for seven terms. He worked to modernize the office, taking it from the time of bound books to computer terminals. He consolidated all 30 taxing entities in the county to one pay location. He also championed the opening of satellite offices in Denison, Whitesboro and Van Alstyne. Outside of political office, Ramsey stayed involved. His interests were varied and he gave of himself to area organizations that supported those interests, from the local Lions Club to the Grayson County Historical Society. He was also interested in HAM radios and got his license to operate them. He was an active Hella Shriner and a member of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry. He was the current president of the Sherman Noon Lions Club, with 27 years of participation and was the past president of the Bells Lions Club. He was the current president of the Grayson County Historical Commission and was a current member of the Bells City Council. He also remained an active member of the local Democratic Party.
Jim Andrews, Former Sherman City Manager
Former Sherman City Manager Jim Andrews died in October at 83 years old. He served the city of Sherman for more than 37 years before retiring in 2001. He was first hired as an assistant building official but went on to lead the Building and Zoning Department, Engineering and Planning and the City Manager’s offices. After he retired, he worked in real estate. His community service included stints on the boards of the Boys and Girls Club, Grayson County Builders Association, Choctaw Water District, Sherman Chamber of Commerce and several others.