(VIDEO LINK)Remembering Tommy Poer Video (Historic Photos in Video Courtesy Hays Free Press)
Tommy Poer was a force to be reckoned with. The self-proclaimed “busy body” of Buda, Tommy Poer was civically engaged for 60 years.
“She was at every City Council meeting. Before her health got bad she was there all the time,” said City Manager Kenneth Williams. “Ms. Poer was about accountability and you as an organization had to be accountable and fair to everyone. She was not just there to give you a hard time for the sake of giving you a hard time. She would come because there was a real issue that needed addressing. She would come not only to tell you about it, but she would have some possible solutions.”
Ms. Tommy, as she was affectionally referred to by City staff, came to Buda in 1957 when the population stood at 287. She quickly got involved in the community. She and her husband Jim helped lead the charge for school integration and were instrumental in Hays CISD consolidation. She also fought for desegregation in the district.
“The way I remember it, Tommy came here from Indiana. I think she had lived in Indiana quite some time and she relocated to Texas. Some of the things in Texas were unique to her and how she lived. Some of the stories she told me, she always said that as far as getting together with people of different races and color, was not unique to her. It was what they did in their community.”
Ms. Tommy’s civic involvement reads like a resume and she stood her ground. one time she was even escorted out of a City Council meeting when things got a bit too heated. She also ran for several political positions.
“She had actually served on the Buda City Council at one time for a term and was very involved in the school district. She even worked at the newspaper, the Hays Free Press, at one time.”
She was involved in various Buda City Council committees, including the Women’s Club in 1967 which helped start the City’s first library, and she served as a member on the first Library board. Tommy served on two comprehensive plan steering committees, the 2014 bond committee, Downtown Master Plan committee, Historic Preservation Commission, Buda Economic Development Corporation, and the list goes on. She was also one of the key organizers of the City’s 125th Anniversary celebration and parade in 2006.
“She had a perspective of Buda that few people had. Not only due to her memory,but she had this catalog of information that included written information and newspaper clippings. If we needed something to talk about or research the history on Buda, she could produce the newspaper clippings and discuss it with her.”
One of City Manager Kenneth Williams favorite memories of Tommy was her yearly Halloween visits to the City.
“She would come in on Halloween as a character and one of her favorite ones was a spin-off of a Dolly Parton character. One morning she came in, it was actually the night after the October flood in Buda. She showed up the next morning and we had been working all night. She came in as a character and basically entertained us all and gave us an opportunity to laugh after going through a really difficult night and really difficult period. She was really good at that.”
“At Christmas time she would show up in character and she would give me a lump of coal. She would say give this to one of your employees. And if you know about the lump of coal, it’s not the good thing to do. This one time she recommended giving it to someone. It was a person that she really respected, but in her honesty, she thought they did not have a good year.”
In 2017, Tommy moved from Buda to an assisted living facility in the Austin-area. The City recognized Ms. Tommy with a reception and officially proclaimed February 7 as Tommy Poer day.
“About a year ago I went to visit her there and we had lunch together. We had a really good time, a really good conversation. Tommy Poer is and was Buda. She is one of the first things I saw when I got to Buda. She identified Buda to me and how it was going to work. She will always have a special place in my heart and Cynthia’s heart, my wife’s heart as public servants here in Buda. And we are going to certainly miss her.”
Graveside services will be held at Live Oak Cemetery on Saturday, Oct. 3 at 11 a.m with Reverend Buddy Johnson officiating. A memorial will be held outdoors on Saturday, Oct. 3 at 1 p.m. at 101 S. San Marcos Street in Buda. Due to current health mandates masks are required. Zoom information below.
Graveside at 11:00 a.m. Meeting ID: 595 777 6767 Passcode: 10032020
Memorial at 1:00 p.m. Meeting ID: 595 777 6767 Passcode: 10032020
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the American Heart Association or the American Cancer Society in Tommy's memory.