A Lifetime of Service

By Lisa Sciortino

In a 2006 Frisco STYLE article lauding him as the magazine’s inaugural Person of the Year honoree, former three-term Frisco Mayor Bob Warren, reflecting on his career in public office, said, “It was one of the greatest experiences of my life to be a part of directing the path of Frisco.”
That certainly was saying something given that during the native Frisco son’s lifetime he had been valedictorian of Frisco High School’s class of 1938, graduated tenth in his class at Texas A&M University, bravely defended the nation as an Army Air Corps pilot during World War II (followed by 22 years of service in the Air Force Reserves), enjoyed a successful, decades-long career in the oil-and-gas industry and raised five children with Ann, his beloved wife of 64 years.
During his 13 years on the Frisco City Council (six of those as mayor), Warren worked tirelessly to bring premiere development and infrastructure projects to the area — Stonebriar Centre and the Dallas North Tollway extension among them — thus helping to secure Frisco’s responsible and successful transformation from a farming community into one of the nation’s fastest-growing cities.
 In ensuing years, “Mayor Bob” (as he was fondly called by many here) became a keeper of Frisco’s history, helping to establish the Heritage Association of Frisco.
The namesake of Frisco’s Warren Parkway and Warren Sports Complex, and to whom a clock on Main Street is dedicated for his decades of service to the community, he wrote extensively, sharing facts alongside personal recollections about the city that he loved in a trio of local history books that he authored as well as his witty Now and Then columns that were published for numerous years in Frisco STYLE.
On March 13, several weeks following his 102nd birthday, Bob Warren passed away surrounded by loved ones at the San Antonio-area home of his youngest daughter, Tami Marlin.
 In honor of his lifetime of service to our community, Frisco STYLE asked local leaders as well as friends and loved ones of Mayor Bob to share their thoughts about his lasting impact on Frisco as well as their personal memories of a man whose legacy will impact generations of residents to come.
(Editor’s note: Responses were edited for clarity.)

George Purefoy

Former Frisco City Manager (1987-2022)
“Mr. Warren was on the Frisco City Council when I had the great fortune of being named the city manager starting on November 1, 1987. Bob served as a city council member until 1990. At that time, then-mayor Randy Elliott resigned in order to go to a new job opportunity in a different city. Frisco went for several months without a mayor. I suggested to then-Mayor Pro Tem Van Nichols and Bob, the longest tenured city council member at the time, `One of you needs to step up and become mayor.’ Without hesitation, Van spoke up and said, `I nominate Bob,’ and the rest is history.
Mayor Warren was the right person at the right time for Frisco’s transformation from a small farming-oriented community to what was published many times over the coming decades as the `fastest-growing city in the country.”
Mayor Warren was born in Frisco and while he went off to fight for our country in World War II and then had a long career with Humble/Exxon, came back home when he retired. He and Ann built their home in front of his Frisco childhood home. So, he had a deep-rooted love for Frisco and its citizens, but also the business experience for working for one of the most successful companies in the world. The perfect blend of hometown roots and a keen business mind.
During Mayor Warren’s tenure as mayor, Frisco positioned itself for the future and the coming growth by first taking care of the fundamentals, such as getting the roads improved, putting in place master plans for development, water, wastewater, parks, securing water supply and the road network. In addition, the 300-plus acres of right of way for the extension of the Dallas North Tollway into Frisco was acquired and an agreement reached with the North Texas Tollway Authority for the extension of the DNT. Agreements were put in place with Collin County to assist in funding the service roads from State Highway 121 to U.S. 380. Frisco established both the Frisco Economic and Community Development Corporations and the ½ percent sales tax for each corporation. The primary work or the Economic Development Corporation today can be seen in the major business developments which have literally transformed the city. The primary work of the Community Development Corporation can be seen in the acquisition of land for the major parks in Frisco along with the development of those parks and the rave reviews of the new Frisco Library are rooted in the corporation purchasing the former Beal Rocket building when it came up for sale almost 20 years ago. Bob was also suggested sending roses to the wife of the decision maker at General Growth Properties for the location of Stonebriar Centre after he and his wife toured the different sites vying for the mall. It was the personal touch which help win the day for Frisco and provide evidence that Frisco was a coming force in the economic development world.
Without the genuine caring nature of Mayor Warren, Frisco would not be the city that it is today.  He was the best of the best. He coined the phrase, “There’s no pride in having the lowest property tax rate, if your city looks like it has the lowest property tax rate.”  One time, when we were at a Texas Municipal League conference in Corpus Christi, I was walking with him outside the conference center when he noticed a large water fountain was dry.  While raising both arms he said, `Why isn’t this beautiful fountain working?’ and literally while raising his arms and saying those words, the fountain started flowing. Mayor Warren had the gift for getting things done for the common good.”

Tony Felker

Frisco Chamber of Commerce president/CEO
“Frisco has been blessed to have many incredible leaders over the years — recent leaders and leaders going back more than 60 years. But I don’t believe there has been one like Bob Warren who has left so many of his fingerprints are all over the community — from his service in the military to his service on city council and as mayor. From the creation of the Frisco EDC and his role with the Frisco Chamber — and of course securing the site for the mall here in Frisco, to open space and parks — his prints are all over Frisco! However, what I will remember the most about Bob was his smile. This is a man who did so much for this community, but it was his smile and his gentle nature that I will miss the most — and what I think so many who knew him will miss the most. He was credited with saying that `Frisco was a city with the heart of a town.’  Well, Bob was a pioneering community leader with the smile and personality of a servant.
In addition, over the past few decades, our Leadership Frisco classes always looked forward to hearing from Bob Warren during the day set aside to learn about economic development. Bob was instrumental in the early days of economic growth in Frisco and loved to tell entertaining stories to the classes. Over the years, I think the favorite was the `bulldozer story,’ where the plan was to move dirt back and forth just north of 121 to make it look like development was happening in Frisco. Again, a leader, but done so with a smile and gentle humor. Bob Warren will be missed, but his legacy will live on.”

Tracie Reveal Shipman

COE (Chair of Everything), Many Voices
“I have two favorite memories. One is from 2004, when I performed a Christmas `concert’ locally and my then-10-year-old son, Zach, sang one of the songs with me. Bob and Ann came to listen and after the concert, she took her program over to Zach and asked him to autograph it for her. They were always so kind and supportive of me and my family. One of the boys needed an interview for some project and Bob invited us over to their house to do the interview. Of course, the place was wall-to-wall Aggie memorabilia and he had to show off everything, including (if I remember correctly) an old corncob in the Aggie bathroom that may have had a little sign on it for `Aggie TP.’ He had such an incredible wit.
Which brings me to my second story: I was in the Walmart on Preston Road one day shopping and I saw Mayor Bob wandering the aisles with a big cart looking lost. (This was after Ann had passed away, but before he remarried.) I saw him looking up and down the aisle and I stopped him to ask what he was looking for. Without missing a beat, he said, `A new wife. Are you available?’ I busted out in laughter and helped him find the lightbulbs he was actually looking for, but I will never forget his sense of humor, humility and love of life.
Frisco is a better place because of that man and his legacy remains in every corner of our community.”

Rick Fletcher

President of Frisco Land Company, managing editor of Frisco Talk, Frisco STYLE contributor
“Local historians will tell you that the `origin’ of Frisco was Francis Emerson’s cotton fields, which were transformed into the first dozen or so blocks of the new town of Frisco. But I will add that the `true heart’ of Frisco lies further east, at 7601 Williams Ave. That third of an acre was the longest home of Mayor Bob Warren, the man who was not only my Frisco history mentor, but also led Frisco’s growth from a tiny rural town into the thriving city that we know today.
I do find it somewhat poetic that Bob, after being away from Frisco for almost four decades during his decorated World War II military pilot career and his long Exxon management career, that he would come back to that same homesite. Preserving his parents’ mid-1920s wooden house by relocating it to the backyard (yes, it’s still there!) and building his 1981 brick house in its place. With Bob picking right back up with Frisco community service as if he had never left!
Many Frisco residents, when asked about their memories about Bob, will speak first of his crucial leadership role in Frisco’s long-term development. But when I think of Bob, the first thing that comes to mind is his role as our lead historian in chronicling much of Frisco’s 20th century.
Bob and I became friends over our mutual love of Frisco’s history. Bob is without a doubt the most prolific writer of Frisco history topics ever, a feat that will likely never be replicated. With his experience writing more than 130 history articles over the last four decades, mostly for Frisco STYLE, plus his Frisco history books, Bob became my mentor.
As I, too, began to write history articles for Frisco STYLE, Bob always graciously helped me research and verify the true facts. With our collective adage being that history needs to be accurately recorded with validated facts, and that our articles should never just be based on family lore that all too often changes over many generations as it’s verbally being passed down the family tree. With today’s digital content and virtually no storage limitations in the cloud, I believe that historians will be reading the articles in this month’s Frisco STYLE Magazine hundreds of years from now as they research Frisco history. So, Bob said it was very important for us to be accurate.
In our meetings over the years, my favorite stories told by Bob include him taking short cuts on his tricycle in the 1920s through the service bays at the `Ford House’ (the Carpenter Brothers Ford dealership at the northwest corner of Main and 5th Streets; the building still standing),   `racing that trike at top speeds on that smooth cement,’ as he told it, and terrorizing the mechanics working on Model Ts. His dad and uncle were our town’s barbers and Bob world routinely ride his tricycle up and down Main Street to their barber shop. Beginning at the age of 5, they’d pay Bob a dime to sweep their floors. He also picked cotton during harvest time. Bob later continued his Main Street `career’ with the highly coveted job of being a soda jerk at Curtsinger’s Drug Store.
Other stories include his first `barnstormer’ ride at age 9 flying over Frisco with a purchased carnival ticket. Bob said that’s the moment that he knew he wanted to be a pilot. And he also told me about his many adventures at Frisco Lake. Simpler times for sure.
Bob’s memories growing up here are so vividly described in his history articles, that you feel like you were actually there yourself during Frisco’s early days. To quote James Earl Jones in Fields of Dreams, when people read Bob’s articles `the memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces.’
One of the first times I met him, Bob said, `Almost weekly the FHS class of 1938 holds a class reunion at a Frisco area restaurant.’ I naturally said, `How can that be? You must be a very close group.’ Bob replied, with a slight grin, `Well, I’m the last member left from the class of ‘38, so every time I go out dining, it’s officially a class reunion.’ I think there were about 17 students in the FHS class of 1938. (FISD students graduated in the 11th grade back then; 12th grade was added in 1943.) Speaking of dining, whenever I couldn’t reach Bob to fact-check a story that I was writing, I could always find him at The Depot Cafe every Friday night.
I’ve read every book and article written by Bob and keep them within an arm’s length from my desk. Whenever I need to fact-check Frisco history, more times than often than not Bob had written articles about that subject. The body of work that Bob left behind is really that vast.
My favorite project working with Bob (and the fantastic Susanne Kerley) was building an accurate `down-to-the-inch’ replica of the 1912 Frisco calaboose, our town’s first jail.  Some of you are aware of the Heritage Association’s attempts to move the two-room calaboose from its original location on 1st Street. The landowner needed it removed for future development. Due to the use of wagon wheel rims and old horseshoes instead of more expensive rebar at the time, the concrete would crumble in our attempts to lift and relocate it to Heritage Village. So, we raised funds to build the replica now located directly behind the Heritage Museum.
Bob’s whip-sharp memory came in handy many times throughout the replica construction. For example, when the original iron door was lost and no photos could be found, Bob drew a diagram of the design of the door from memory and we had it recreated. Susanne and I then hosted a `Bob Warren Roast’ where we presented Bob with a plaque for his many contributions in preserving Frisco’s history. It was a great dinner where many leaders such as George Purefoy, Maher Maso and Mike Simpson shared their `Bob memories,’ followed by Bob, too, sharing his many interesting Frisco memories, which was definitely the highlight of the evening.”

Judy Roach

Wife of the late Sam Roach (former Frisco Economic Development Corporation president, 1991-2000)
“Most of my memories of Bob include my late husband, Sam (Roach). Bob and Sam were both born in Frisco, when there were about 600 people. They both had wonderful memories of growing up in a small country town and neither ever dreamed it would grow as fast as it has. They both played a big part in that growth.
When Frisco began growing, they were instrumental in forming the Economic
Development Corporation. They gave what they called their `dog and pony show’ for almost 30 years to the Leadership Frisco classes. They also took it to schools and other organizations. It was informative as well as entertaining. Bob was a wonderful man who lived a long, exceptional life of love and service.”

Mack Borchardt

Special assistant to the Frisco City Manager
“As a small child, I first heard of Bob Warren from my mother, Ruth Borchardt. She was born in 1906 and knew and loved the entire Warren family. My wife, Allison, pointed out to me that Mom had a trailblazer spirit herself, getting a college degree in the early 1930s. I didn’t recognize that. I just saw her as my mother and enjoyed listening to her stories of Bob centered around him as a child growing up in our small town. She was so proud this young Frisco High School graduate who had gone `off to college’ in faraway College Station, joined the military, served his country in the military as a pilot in World War II and, upon returning to the States, had a successful career in Houston with Humble Oil/Exxon.
There’s no doubt that Mom used her Bob Warren stories to inspire her students in the Frisco ISD to dream big and get that higher education. When word came that Bob had retired and he and Ann were returning to Frisco (population about 3,000 in 1981), it seemed the entire town was excited. A Hometown Hero from a beloved family was coming back to Frisco.
Meeting Bob Warren for the first time, he seemed very humble, smart and genuine. There was no pretense. Frisco had started to sense that growth was coming our way and he was soon enlisted to serve on the city council to help guide the community. Bob’s time on the city council saw growth begin and he provided calm wisdom needed. While not the mayor, he still led by example during those times. As an employee of the city, I was thrilled to have him on board.
Soon Bob was enlisted to take on the mayor’s position when the current mayor relocated due to business reasons. During his six years as mayor, he set the bar for future mayors, he set it high and that has served us well until this very day. His commitment was to the community and the people who lived here, but he knew growth was opportunity and inevitable. His interest in, and love for, Frisco and its people spanned 102 years. He was a humble man who deserves every accolade he has received.”

Kathy Seei

Former Frisco mayor (1996-2002)
“Bob Warren was an exceptional man. I loved the way he would tilt his head and smile.  He cared greatly for Frisco and the people he served. He will always be remembered by those who were blessed to know him and serve with him.”

Mike Simpson

Former Frisco Mayor (2002-2008)
“Mayor Bob Warren is considered an icon of Frisco and the best mayor we have had because he was mayor at one of our most critical periods, when our city had just started to grow. Many will probably talk about his growing up in Frisco, his time at Texas A&M, his courage and leadership as a pilot in World War II and his successful business career with Humble/Exxon Oil companies. All of this helped him become a great mayor, but I feel he was successful because of his intelligence, dedication, his great smile and congenial personality, leadership and his desire to do what was best for Frisco citizens for the seven years he was mayor.
Under his leadership, we saw the (city’s) first comprehensive plan, getting Stonebriar Centre Mall, obtaining the Right of Way for the Dallas North Tollway, which enabled our early growth north, and getting the Collin College Preston Ridge campus, as well as creating the Frisco Economic Development and Community Development Corporations.
Mayor Bob was considered a mentor to many people and he was certainly mine.  My wife, Sandy, and I met with Bob and his wife, Ann, when I first decided to run for mayor. His advice to always communicate with your citizens, be transparent, calm, concerned, to listen and to have a goal to make this city the best place for families and businesses to call their home, was the ultimate goal.
After his retirement, he took his energy and love for Frisco history and helped co-ound the Heritage Association of Frisco, worked to get our Heritage Village and Museum, and wrote books and articles for Frisco STYLE Magazine, capturing the Now and Then of the city he loved.
I was honored when his children — Don, Kay, Phil, Van, and Tami — asked me to do his eulogy and to honor a true gentleman and great friend, who loved his city and its people for 102 plus years.”

Maher Maso

Former Frisco Mayor (2008-2017)
“It has been an honor to be able to call Mayor Warren a friend, a mentor and a trusted advisor. I had the pleasure of meeting Bob in 1995 at a city council meeting.
I think I may be one of a very small handful of people that ever had the opportunity to see him raise his voice. It was during a council meeting a speaker refused to keep things civil or follow any requests the mayor made. At some point, Mayor Warren had to get the situation under control, and he raised his voice. Even that was a learning moment for me as his version of `upset’ was pretty calm compared to most people. His ability to get the situation under control, while remaining true to his calm and thoughtful demeanor, was remarkable.
Over the years, Mayor Warren was always there to freely give advice, which typically was really good advice. As I campaigned for mayor, it was an honor to know he trusted me enough to be by my side.
Bob lived an amazing life and more importantly, a life of faith and a life lived by being a servant leader. He did not need to tell anyone what do, he simply lived life by leading by example.
Mayor Warren will be missed, but I can say that I’m a much better person for having known him.”

Jim Gandy

Former Frisco Economic Development Corporation president (1996 – 2018)
“Mayor Bob Warren was a kind, gentle giant of a man that was a great leader in so many ways.  He was a servant leader, and his legacy will never be forgotten.
Mayor Warren was a visionary that knew how to lead a farm town to become the highly successful city that Frisco is today.
Mayor Warren’s years of service on the Frisco Economic Development board of directors was instrumental in establishing the foundation of Frisco’s economic development program.  Anywhere you go in Frisco you can see Mayor Warren’s work that will live forever.”

Bob Allen

Former Frisco City Council Member, 2002-2009, 2011-2017
“Frisco has lost a true servant leader. Teresa and I had the privilege of meeting Mayor Warren and Miss Ann when we first moved here in 1992. Although the population was only about 6,500 people with a single stop light (flashing four-way red), Mayor Warren waived the flag of pride for this small, growing agricultural community. Today, we tout history about areas like the Rail District, but Frisco was really about the farmers, ranchers and landowners of the area. Mayor Warren never forgot Frisco’s roots.
When Mayor Warren first met our children at City Hall (now the location of School of Rock), he welcomed them to the city, shared his business card, a map of the community and a handshake. His genuine interest and excitement to meet our kids and introduce them to their new town remains to this day as one of my favorite memories. His quick wit and engaging smile always had a way of connecting with us and the entire community.
Mayor Warren and I often discussed how things had changed in the city over the years, especially politically. As he and Ann were helping construct campaign yard signs for my first city council election, he shared the story of his first campaign for mayor which consisted of just one sign. He hand-painted it and nailed it to a post near Preston and Main. Considering how things look these days during an election cycle, I jokingly told him he shouldn’t have started the sign explosion.
I’ll also never forget my first meeting on the Economic Development Corporation Board in 2000.  Mayor Warren had joined the meeting during Citizen Input to provide his own unique wisdom and advice. He shared a story about a person going fishing. In his story he reminded us that everyone wants to catch the biggest fish, but sometimes it’s just as important to keep many small ones if you’re interested in having a good meal tonight. In these days of Frisco’s never-ending focus on the next big economic thing, I’ll always remember his sage wisdom.
I always welcomed and referred to Bob as `Mayor Warren.’  I felt he deserved that respect and I wanted to ensure he always knew how much I appreciated his contributions. He was a proud military veteran and strong supporter for the community of Frisco. When people describe themselves as a true servant leader today, Mayor Bob Warren should always be used as the standard to which all others are compared.
I have so many memories I could share, but I think it’s most important to simply say, rest in peace, Mayor Warren, and thank you for your service.

Don Warren

“I’m the oldest of Bob’s 5 children (Tami, the youngest child, is eight years younger than me).
Dad loved to play golf. When I was still in grade school in Pickton (Texas), I remember his weekly Saturday trips to Sulphur Springs to play golf with work buddies. Sometimes he would take me with him, and I could walk along with the foursome.
One weekend when I was about 10, he told me, `Don, I’m not going to be playing golf anymore on Saturdays. It’s just not fair for me to leave your mother to take care of the house, along with your brothers and your sisters while I go have fun. I plan to stay home on Saturdays and help her with the housekeeping chores and the kids.’
He was true to his word: He didn’t play golf regularly for several years – after all the children were old enough to go play outside with their friends. I never heard him complain about missing his weekly golf game. What a super example he set for me.”

Tami Marlin

“It’s hard to try to explain to people why my siblings and I are the luckiest five kids in the world to have Bob Warren as our dad. We tried to behave, not because we worried about suffering his wrath (I never saw him angry), but because we just didn’t want to disappoint him. The integrity, honesty, fairness, kindness and wittiness that were deeply rooted into everything he did, were displayed throughout his life, both public and private. His strong Christian faith was evident throughout every aspect of his life. He had a servant’s heart, which was displayed in his service to his country, his family, his beloved city of Frisco and his God. He was our cornerstone.”

Lisa Sciortino is managing editor of Frisco STYLE.
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