Fort Worth

Former City Manager Bob Terrell was ‘a most remarkable professional.’ He died Saturday

Former Fort Worth City Manager Bob Terrell
Former Fort Worth City Manager Bob Terrell Star-Telegram archive

Mr. Bob Terrell, Fort Worth’s first African-American city manager, died on Saturday night after a fight against pancreatic cancer.

Mr. Terrell, 74, was the longest-serving city manager at the time he left his office and held the job from 1992 until his retirement in 2000.

“He was instrumental in steering Fort Worth’s early burst of growth and Fort Worth’s successful determination to make the community safer while reducing the property tax rate for a record six consecutive years,” former communications director Pat Svacina wrote in Mr. Terrell’s obituary.

Former Mayor Kenneth Barr said Mr. Terrell was “a most remarkable professional who provided the City of Fort Worth with a strong, stable leadership.”

Among his accomplishments was the establishment of a gang intervention program. Mr. Terrell led the city’s team in establishing a 9-1-1 system, established the city’s minority business enterprise program, created an ambulance system now known as MedStar, led the team that facilitated construction of the Texas Motor Speedway racetrack that brought NASCAR racing to the city, implemented a housing program in inner-city neighborhoods, spearheaded implementation of a community policing program and initiated technology upgrades for the city’s telecommunications system.

“If something needed to be done, he tackled it,” said Vernell Sturns, Mr. Terrell’s long-time mentor and retired Dallas/Fort Worth Airport executive director.

Though he didn’t become city manager until 1992, Mr. Terrell’s career with the City of Fort Worth began decades earlier.

After graduating from the University of Kansas, Mr. Terrell moved to Fort Worth to work in the city budget office. After three years there, he moved to become the executive director of a start-up nonprofit, Fort Worth Economic Development Corporation.

He returned to the City of Fort Worth in 1979 as an assistant to the city manager and was promoted to assistant city manager in 1985, with oversight of the police and fire department as one of his main responsibilities. In 1992, the mayor and council named Mr. Terrell city manager when the late City Manager David Ivory retired.


Visitation will be on Tuesday from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Spencer Funeral Home, 4400 Miller Ave.

Funeral services are at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, 2823 N. Houston St.

In honor of Mr. Terrell, donations may be made to the Fort Worth Alumni Chapter Kappa Alpha Psi Foundation, P.O. Box 581, Fort Worth TX 76101, a tax-exempt entity foundation that focuses on furthering the education of African American males with scholarships.

Nichole Manna: 817-390-7684, @NicholeManna
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