DALLAS — Former Dallas City Manager John Ware will be remembered Wednesday at Friendship West Baptist Church in South Oak Cliff. Ware, 62, died from blood cancer on Sunday.
He served the city from 1993 to 1998, and the projects he pushed and planned are all around us today.
What Ware did is impossible to miss. Current Dallas City Manager Mary Suhm knows, since Ware promoted her to be an assistant.
"The things he did changed the face of our community," Suhm said. "You can start out with one we all know about, the arena.”
In 1997, Ware cut the deal for the city to build the American Airlines Center along with the Stars and Mavericks. Voters passed the measure.
When Ware left the city within a year to partner with Stars owner Tom Hicks to invest in southern Dallas, critics howled. But the city attorney said Ware broke no ethics laws.
In another big project as city manager, Ware unveiled the Trinity River project that voters approved in 1998.
Former Mayor Ron Kirk, now President Obama's trade ambassador, served with Ware. "We were privileged I think to work with unquestionably one of the most gifted city managers — not only in Dallas, but around the country — and were able to do extraordinary things.”
Ware also led to make improvements people enjoy every day.
The huge 1995 bond package rebuilt streets that had been ignored during the the economic downtown in the 1980s. He negotiated the creation of the Nasher Sculpture Garden and fought for bond money for southern Dallas business parks.
Ware was serving as chair of the Dallas Citizens Council when his cancer returned, and kept it private.
"He had a tough exterior," said DCC president Donna Halstead, "but he could be incredibly compassionate and caring.”
Ware was wounded in Vietnam and awarded the Purple Heart. He later said there was no "rational explanation" for him being alive after that battle.
But in the time he had left, he made it count for his fellow citizens.