Everyone in Edgecliff Village knew Chuck Talbot.
For a couple of decades he served the 3,000 people of this enclave community, surrounded by Fort Worth, doing just about everything from public works director to fire chief and city marshal.
Mr. Talbot, 80, also served as associate municipal judge, alderman, mayor pro tem and interim mayor.
And the retired Army command sergeant major was active in programs that honored the community’s military veterans, including the Blue Star Memorial Marker that was dedicated in 2012.
But when he died Friday after battling several illnesses, folks at the Municipal Complex were surprised to learn from Mr. Talbot’s family that he had been awarded the Bronze Star, one of the U.S. military’s highest decorations.
“He didn’t want to talk about himself,” said Mayor Tony Dauphinot, who served with Mr. Talbot on the City Council. “He loved to talk about Edgecliff Village, and how we could make it a better city.”
Mr. Talbot was born Jan. 6, 1934, in Beatrice, Neb., of Native American ancestry, according to his biography provided by the town of Edgecliff.
After graduating from high school, he worked in the natural gas industry, but a stint in the Nebraska Army National Guard pointed him toward a full-time military career, specializing in armor.
He “served two tours of duty in Germany and one combat tour in Vietnam,” the biography says.
The Bronze Star wasn’t Mr. Talbot’s only medal; he also received the Combat Infantry Badge, the Legion of Merit Medal and the Air Medal.
Details of his combat experiences weren’t immediately available last week, and that may have been just fine with him, considering that few people knew he had a Bronze Star.
Mr. Talbot retired from the Army and settled in Edgecliff Village with his wife, Sylvia Sue.
He immediately became active with the workings of the community, but on Friday, employees at the Municipal Complex had a hard time pinning down the dates that he filled each role. Perhaps that’s because, for a lot of them, he had always been on hand.
Dauphinot said that when Mr. Talbot entered city politics, he already had an unusual depth of knowledge, having been an employee in several departments.
“He was just absolutely invaluable,” the mayor said. “He knew where all the sewer lines were and where all the clamps were. Same thing for the Fire Department because he had been our fire chief for many years.”
Dauphinot credited Mr. Talbot with several cost-saving measures, like converting from a city-owned ambulance service to contracting with MedStar Mobile Healthcare.
In the water department, Mr. Talbot helped streamline the door-to-door meter reading with a computer installed in a city vehicle that reads the meters digitally, Dauphinot said.
“It has saved us a tremendous amount of manpower and money,” the mayor said. “Now we got it down to a three-hour drive through the city.”
“I definitely couldn’t have done what I’ve done on the council without him. It has been tough without him.”
Larry and Mary Matl recalled how Mr. Talbot worked with them and the Edgecliff Village Garden Club to create the Blue Star Memorial Marker.
Larry Matl said he, too, was surprised to learn Mr. Talbot had the Bronze Star.
“Chuck was just one of the silent heroes,” he said. “Those are the people who serve their country, but they did not advertise it. We have additional respect for him, now that he has passed with such humility. He was a good person.”
Talbot is survived by his wife, daughter Tanya Lee Williams of Foley, Ala., and several grandchildren, great grandchildren, siblings and cousins. Funeral arrangements are pending.