Death of fmr US Rep/Mayor Tommy Joe Vandergriff (D/R-TX) (1926-2010)
- Former Mayor & Congressman Vandergriff died in Arlington,TX on 12/30/2010.
Car Salesman & Father of the Texas Rangers Tom Vandergriff dead at age 84
December 31st, 2010 9:35 am CT.
Fort Worth, Texas (12/31/10) - Tommy Joe Vandergriff, car salesman, passed away in Arlington, Texas on Thursday, December 30, 2010. He was 84 years old. Actually, Tom Vandergriff was much more than a car dealer, he was a politician, a judge, and a public relations expert. He was the long-time County Judge of Tarrant County with his office located in downtown Fort Worth.
In the early years, Little Tommy was born in Carrollton, Texas on January 29, 1926. Eventually, he attended the University of Southern California and U.S.C. would remain his Alma Mater. He returned to the family's business of selling cars through a chain of dealerships begun by his father, Hooker Vandergriff. The dealerships were mostly Chevrolet or Buick, but that relationship with General Motors would have a significant impact in future years for the City of Arlington. Tom Vandergriff's father split the dealerships between Tom and his sister Ginger. As a youngster, I remember driving from Dallas to Fort Worth and seeing all the buildings named "Vandergriff." My dad owned a 1950 Chevy, lime green color, and he would stop there to get an occasional auto part. Today, the Vandergriff dealerships not only include Chevrolet, but also Toyota, Honda, Acura, and Hyundai. It is considered the largest privately owned car dealer network in the United States.
Tom Vandergriff was elected the Mayor of Arlington in April 1951 and served until Jan 1977. One of his major projects was to lure General Motors into building an auto plant in Arlington. Due to his relationship with GM through his Chevrolet dealership, Vandergriff had somewhat of an inside advantage. His other major project was to get a Major League Baseball franchise into the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. He succeded when the Washington Senators moved from our nation's capital, despite objection at every level, including then-President Richard Nixon. The new team moved to Arlington and were re-named the Texas Rangers.
Due to the 1980 US Census, Tarrant County obtained a newly formed US congressional district. Tom Vandergriff won the election to serve in the US Congress from the Texas 26thdistrict as a Democrat. He only served one term, however, due to the Reagan landslide that threw many Democrats out of office. He was replaced by Republican Dick Armey.
In 1990, Tom Vandergriff switched to the Republican party and ran for Tarrant County Judge, He served in the County Seat in Fort Worth for sixteen years, retiring from public service in January 2007. Tommy Joe Vandergriff died in Arlington, Thursday, December 30, 2010, just one month shy of his 85th birthday.
Moore Memorial Gardens Cemetery