Feelings of love and gratitude surrounded outgoing Mayor Barbara Bass on Tuesday night as friends, family and colleagues reflected on her as a person and community leader.
Guests gathered inside the Rose Garden Center for a farewell program that prompted multiple standing ovations.
Mayor Bass, Tyler’s first female mayor, will finish her third and final term on May 21. On that day, she will swear in her successor, Martin Heines.
Former Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce President Herb Buie referenced all of the years Mayor Bass has given the community through volunteer positions, such as mayor, chairwoman of the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce and chairwoman of the Tyler Economic Development Council.
“What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and our community remains immortal,” Buie said.
He said Mayor Bass “gave her all,” and prepares herself each day physically and spiritually.
He also announced more than $28,000 has been raised for the Barbara Bass Early College Scholarship.
Following Buie was U.S. Rep. Louie Gohmert, who presented Mayor Bass with a flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol in her honor.
Tyler Economic Development Council Chairman Tom Ellis then addressed Tuesday’s audience, saying he has enjoyed working with Mayor Bass, and knew when she was elected mayor that she would be a strong partner for economic development.
Among other things, he cited her cutting the ribbon on Earl Campbell Parkway and leading the effort to develop the Industrial Growth Initiative economic strategic plan, which he said “will guide and direct Tyler’s growth for many years to come.”
“You have us well-positioned to compete for future economic growth,” Ellis said.
The Rev. Ralph Caraway Sr., a former city council member, described Mayor Bass as “a person that has magnetism that’s able to touch people’s lives.”
He said the mayor did not let race or color interfere with her ability to be the best mayor she could be, and her purpose always has been to make Tyler the best city possible.
“I believe she purposed it in her heart,” he said.
City Manager Mark McDaniel then presented Mayor Bass with a flag from state Sen. Kevin Eltife.
He also presented her with an engraved crystal gavel, which to city staff, he said, symbolizes “path finder,” “community builder” and “might of character.”
McDaniel said Mayor Bass is “warm-hearted, but can also close a deal.” She also “takes a stand for what is right despite adverse criticism,” he said.
McDaniel went on to cite the mayor’s faith, saying that when she is insulted, she “turns the other cheek and forgives.”
Additionally, he said, she is a model for others, a leader and a friend.
U.S. Army Retired Lt. Col. Jim Snow, president of the Rose Capital Chapter of the Military Officers Association of America, then presented Mayor Bass with a clock, and audience members heard from the mayor’s sister, Bonnie Tincher.
Ms. Tincher told audience members that her sister was a great student growing up and “set the bar high” for her siblings.
She said her sister also plays piano and is a great sewer.
She said Mayor Bass also bought a brand new orange Corolla when she was 19 years old, and let her use it to take her driver’s test. Then she said her sister continued to allow her to drive it.
“It was the envy of all my friends,” she said.
Ms. Tincher said her sister also shared her first job with her and sang with her for church.
Toward the end of the evening, a video chronicling Mayor Bass’ time as mayor was shown, and Mayor Bass addressed the guests, saying, “It’s been a wonderful ride, and I can’t say ‘thank you’ enough for what each of you have done. … Let’s continue to keep Tyler great.”