For his first State of the City presentation since his election almost a year ago, Friendswood Mayor Mike Foreman not only shared the progress that’s been made on multiple projects, ranging from drainage to development to transparency to future goals, but also introduced a new component, “Friendswood Legends.”
He reminded the 250 people in attendance, “Since our community was founded in 1895, Friendswood has been the home of people who have made a positive impact in our community, around the world, and even in orbit. I want to call them ‘Friendswood Legends.’ These are people who excelled in a particular field and have a great connection to our city. I want to honor them for their contributions,” Foreman said before introducing the five honorees.
Born April 25, 1928, Ms. Whitehead was a longtime Friendswood resident. Her art was displayed in galleries all over the U.S. and Europe. Later, one of her paintings, “Quinto Centenario” was presented to Pope John Paul II. Her work, “One Nation Under God” was brought to the attention of President George H.W. Bush. She later presented that work to them in their Houston home. Her watercolors captured a wide spectrum of subjects, from real-life contemporary and historical heroes, to characters she brought to life, such as clowns. Ms. Whitehead’s creations were even more remarkable when placed in the context of her life; one that overcame personal obstacles including tragic events and chronic illness.
Her work is on display in many public buildings in Friendswood. Laurie Whitehead passed away on Dec. 1, 2018. She was represented at the State of the City luncheon by her daughter-in-law, Nora Whitehead.
Friendswood was founded 124 years ago. Joyce Baker has lived 90 of those; most of them in Friendswood. Her love for Friendswood has been interwoven with her careers as a family business owner, newspaper editor, school teacher, and author. This is literally true: Joyce Baker “wrote the book” on Friendswood entitled “Friendswood, A Settlement of Friendly Folks.” She is the Official Historian of the city.
Mary Booker Perroni began her career with the City of Friendswood in 1985 as a Reference Librarian. It’s probably not a coincidence that as her responsibilities grew, the library grew. Mary became the Library Director in 1995, the same year there was the addition of a reference area, expanded juvenile area, study rooms, and new office and storage space. In 2015, over five-thousand square feet of library space was added including a new children’s area, meeting and computer spaces, snack bar and a covered courtyard. Mary’s leadership exemplified award-winning customer service and built the Library of the future, now in Friendswood. After 32 years of outstanding and dedicated service to the City of Friendswood, 23 of those years as Library Director, Mary retired last August.
A sixth generation Texan with more than 50 years of public service, Terry Byrd joined the Houston Fire Department in 1968 and worked there for 20 years. He served the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office and other positions before joining the City of Friendswood in 1995. Terry has guided the city through the hurricanes and other crises as an award-winning Emergency Manager. He’s been instrumental in acquiring grants for the city in excess of $2 million. He retired in February after 24 years with the City of Friendswood.
With “just” 40 years of experience in finance and management in a variety of industries, Roger Roecker joined the City of Friendswood in 1989 as the Director of Finance. In 1992, he assumed additional responsibilities and was named the Director of Administrative Services. Roger served as Interim City Manager in 2006 and again in 2008. After serving in that role for more than a year, he became Friendswood’s City Manager in August 2009. The city and the area grew rapidly during Roger’s tenure, presenting new opportunities to be innovative. Roger led a staff that rose to the challenges, making the city, and the community of Friendswood, what it is today. After 29 years with the city, he retired last April.
The State of the City video is at https://youtu.be/7j-rOQTJf8w.