During his nearly 30 years in Arlington, former City Council member and pediatrician Theron Brooks III was a diligent advocate for indigent children and adults.
He was instrumental in setting up the first clinic for poor children in Arlington, and through an organization Dr. Brooks helped found, he led efforts that established the homeless shelter, Teen Court and after-school programs in the city.
“That was his heart. He was going to take care of those children who weren’t going to be healthy,” said Tillie Burgin, founder and executive director of Mission Arlington. “That’s what Theron did.”
Dr. Brooks, 76, died Dec. 31. He was preceded in death a day earlier by another former councilman, Bill McFadin.
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Dr. Brooks, who moved to Arlington and opened his pediatrics practice in 1968, served on the City Council from 1989 to 1993 and on the Arlington Sports Facilities Development Corp., which oversaw the funding and construction of what is now Globe Life Park in Arlington, from 1991 to 1997.
After Brooks and his wife, Joan, retired in 1997, they moved to Horseshoe Bay and later to Marble Falls, where he lived the rest of his life.
Despite that separation from Arlington, his imprint on the city’s community and social services hasn’t faded, former colleagues said.
“Theron was the consummate public servant in his personal and private life,” said former Mayor Richard Greene. “Community service was a passion that he had. Long before he was a member of the City Council, he was doing things in the community … to reach out beyond his own medical practice to help others.”
Dr. Brooks had other pet projects as a councilman. Former state Rep. Paula Pierson, a council colleague also elected in 1989, said that Dr. Brooks was a staunch supporter of recycling and gives him much of the credit for the city’s current program that runs alongside garbage collection.
“Recycling was beginning to get popular in the country,” said Pierson, who also served with Dr. Brooks on the sports authority. “We knew that there is only so much life in a landfill. We wanted to save the landfill for needed items.”
His concern for children influenced him in other policy deliberations, especially limits on guns.
“His being a pediatrician, he cared a lot about guns and children,” Pierson said. “He wanted to outlaw gun shows in Arlington.”
That one was not successful.
Theron Edgar Brooks III, who was born May 20, 1938, in Fort Worth, served as an Air Force physician in Washington state for two years before moving to Arlington.
Among his accolades, Dr. Brooks was named citizen or member of the year by several Arlington organizations, including Arlington Boys & Girls Clubs in 1986, Rotary Club in 1987 and the Arlington Chamber of Commerce in 1989. The Arlington Medical Society named him Physician of the Year in 1990.
In 1993, the Star-Telegram Editorial Board wrote, “It’s no mistake that both the Star-Telegram and Arlington Boys and Girls Club have, at different times, designated Brooks as citizen of the year.”
Brooks’ volunteerism in Arlington dates to 1970, when he organized the Arlington drive to distribute a new vaccine against German measles.
In 1985, after tenacious lobbying by Brooks, the Tarrant County Hospital District selected Arlington for its first satellite clinic for indigent care. Brooks joined the clinic’s volunteer staff.
In 1995, the Arlington clinic served 9,880 people, according to a Star-Telegram report.
Brooks co-founded the Arlington Human Services Planners, an agency funded by the United Way and the city that identifies the needs of struggling families in the community and designs strategies to address them. Established in 1985, the agency, which he chaired, laid the groundwork for several Arlington services, including the homeless shelter, Teen Court and after-school care.
Mayor Robert Cluck, who came to office long after Brooks’ council tenure ended, said he worked alongside Brooks in their related medical practices for 25 years.
“I was the obstetrician and he was the pediatrician,” Cluck said. “I delivered the babies, and he took care of them.”
This story includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.
Robert Cadwallader, 817-390-7641
Bill McFadin, 1932-2014
Fiery oratory wasn’t former Councilman Bill McFadin’s strong suit. He went about his public service deliberately, well prepared and outside the spotlight as much as possible.
“He definitely was quiet,” Mayor Robert Cluck said. “But when he had something he wanted to say, he could say it very forcefully.”
Cluck was among many who have been remembering Mr. McFadin since his death Dec. 30 at age 82.
Mr. McFadin served three terms on the council in two stints a decade apart. But his career in public service began well before, when he joined the Arlington Fire Department in 1957. He retired 31 years later as assistant fire chief.
After retirement he decided to try his hand at elected office. Voters gave him two terms, from 1989 to 1993. Then, after several years away from Arlington, he returned and ran successfully in 2003 to fill the vacancy left when Councilwoman Sheri Capehart stepped down from her District 2 council seat to run for mayor.
After that unsuccessful bid, Capehart defeated Mr. McFadin in 2004 to reclaim her place on the council.
“He was a conscientious, focused council member who never really got into the nitty-gritty in the debate over policies,” said Chuck Kiefer, Arlington’s city manager from 1999 to 2005 who had worked for the city since 1978. He said Mr. McFadin had a passion for “making sure that the city delivered on its promise to deliver basic service in a cost-effective way.”
Mr. McFadin was known also for doing his homework, Cluck said.
“He was always prepared for each council meeting,” he said. The council agenda packets “were all paper back then. It would take a good three hours to go through it all.”
Mr. McFadin did that, Cluck said, and would routinely visit the properties where zoning changes were requested “and draw his own conclusions.”
Mr. McFadin also was a strong supporter of the court of record and several public safety issues, including funding for warning sirens. He also lobbied the Veterans Affairs Department — unsuccessfully — to build a veterans cemetery in Mansfield. It was established in Dallas instead.
Billy Ray McFadin was born Aug. 13, 1932, in Arlington. He volunteered for service in the Army during in the Korean War, where he received two Purple Hearts.
Mr. McFadin would recall his battle experience when he faced an armed robber in December 2007, as he and his wife, Betty Jo, walked at Allan Saxe Park in southwest Arlington, in the district he had represented on the council.
The assailant brandished a .44-caliber handgun and demanded Brooks’ wallet, he told the Star-Telegram after the incident. He said he didn’t remember his response to the threat, but added, “Whatever I said startled him.”
The gunman fired a shot in the air and demanded the wallet again. McFadin again refused, and the robber fled. Police caught him shortly afterward, thanks in part to the couple’s son, who was nearby and wrote down the license plate of the gunman’s car.
“The last time someone pointed a weapon at me like that,” he said, “I was on top of a mountain in Korea.”
— Robert Cadwallader