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Robert Eugene Bolen


1926 - 2014 | Obituary Condolences
Robert Eugene Bolen Obituary
Robert Eugene Bolen, 87, former mayor of Fort Worth, died at home on Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, surrounded by his loving family. Funeral: 1 p.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church, 1000 Penn St., Fort Worth, 76102, with Dr. Don Hogg as the officiating minister. Interment: A private family interment will be held at a later time. Visitation: The family will be available from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Friday at Greenwood Funeral Home, 3100 White Settlement Road, Fort Worth, 76107. Memorials: In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the North Central Texas Academy at Happy Hill Farm, 3846 North Highway 144, Granbury, Texas 76048, or online at www.happyhillfarm.org; or to the TCU Bob Bolen Leadership Scholars Program at Texas Christian University, TCU Box 297045, Fort Worth, Texas 76129, or online at www.makeagift.tcu.edu. Pallbearers: Randy Bolen, Ron Bolen, David Manning, Don Cosby, Jeff Bolen, Chad Bolen, Matthew Manning and Tucker Cosby. Bob was born in Chicago, Ill., on April 10, 1926, the oldest son of Milford Louis Bolen and Beatrice Pinkerton Bolen. Bob graduated from Byrd High School in Shreveport, La., in 1943. The day after his graduation, his father drove him to Texas A&M in College Station to begin classes to become an aeronautical engineer. After a year in college, he served in the U.S. Navy as a gunnery officer aboard the USS Iowa. Following his military discharge in 1946, he returned to A&M, changed his major and earned a bachelor of science degree in business administration in 1948. Soon after obtaining his degree, Bob joined McCrory's Variety Store and eventually worked as a store manager in Syracuse, N.Y., from 1949-1951. Bob met Fran Ciborowski, who was a native of Syracuse, while he was working there. Bob and Fran began dating during their mutual employment at McCrory's even though there was a company policy that prohibited employees from fraternizing. According to legend, their socializing included several trips to basketball games where it was necessary for Fran to sit on the floor of Bob's car to avoid detection as his accomplice in exploring the city sights! However, their repeated phone conversations were reported to the store director and, ultimately, cost Fran her job. By the time Bob was transferred to Fort Worth in 1951, they were already engaged. The Bolens were wed in Syracuse on May 3, 1952. For their honeymoon, the newlyweds drove to Fort Worth where they moved into a duplex on McCart Street. Arriving in Cowtown, Fran's most vivid memory was the tiny size of their first home and the intense heat of the summer. After leaving his employment with the variety store, Bob and Fran made a decision to find a permanent location in which to grow their livelihood and their family. In 1953, Bob and Fran began lifelong business ventures that included Bolen's Toy Palace, Bolen's Bike World and, eventually, multiple Hallmark Card Stores throughout the state of Texas. From his earliest entrepreneurial storefront in the Westcliff Shopping Center located near TCU, the children and their moms who supported his business came to know him as Mr. Bob. He loved the interaction with the young patrons of his toy store! During these busy, exciting years, the Bolens' personal family grew to include their children: Ricky, Bobby, Randy, Terrie, Ron and foster son, Don Cosby. After years of community service, mentoring young people and growing his businesses, Bob was "drafted" by local business people to consider serving on the City Council. He began his tenure as a councilman in 1979 and was elected the mayor of Fort Worth in January 1982. With his vision, his consensus-building and his love for this city, he became a transformational leader in city government for the next 3,400 days. During achievement-filled and productive years at City Hall, Bob left a legacy of accomplishments in helping to establish the first Public Improvement District downtown, attracting the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing Plant to our city, and being a champion of the public-private partnership known as the AllianceTexas master planned community that has had an economic impact of more than $43 billion on Fort Worth and the surrounding area. He was also instrumental in the creation of the Fort Worth Sister Cities International program and served as the president of the Texas Municipal League as well as the National League of Cities. Bob was also a faithful member, elder and usher at Westminster Presbyterian Church. Mayor Bolen has received many honors that include The Golden Deeds Award from the Fort Worth Exchange Club, the Royal Purple Award from Texas Christian University, Legends of Texas Award, Bolen Plaza Site at Alliance Airport, North Texas Commission Superhero Award, and the Fort Worth Chamber High Impact Legacy Award. When Bob chose not to run for re-election in 1991, he was offered a position by Texas Christian University to serve as the senior advisor to the chancellor. To the present time, he continued to work at TCU while serving on local business boards, doing occasional classroom teaching, and always enjoying interaction with the university students. Bob and Fran Bolen both have a passion for organizations that support the growth and nurturing of young people. They have been a vital part of the development of Southwest Christian School, The Hill School, and the North Central Texas Academy at Happy Hill Farm since its beginning in 1975. By their presence over the last 61 years, Bob and the love of his life, Fran, have certainly left Fort Worth better than they found it. Bob was preceded in death by his parents; his brother, Jim; his sons, Ricky and Bobby; and his grandson, Josh Bolen. Survivors: His wife, Fran; one daughter, Terrie Manning and her spouse, David; two sons, Randy Bolen and his spouse, Pam, and Ron Bolen; foster son, Don Cosby and his spouse, Kathryn; grandchildren, Jeff Bolen, Chad Bolen, Shannon Young, Matthew Manning, Jamie Manning, Tucker and Anne Claire Cosby; great-grandchildren, Brady, Brennan, Charlie, and Robert Walter; niece, Sandy Bolen; nephew, Brad Bolen; and other extended family members.
Published in Star-Telegram on Jan. 8, 2014
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