Thinking about what he would say Tuesday morning, former Brownwood City Council member Jerry DeHay prepared Monday night for his visit to the council chambers.
DeHay was scheduled to receive a plaque at the council meeting honoring his 12 years of council service.
Realizing he still possessed a lapel pin with the city logo, DeHay decided he’d give the pin to Walker Willey, the man who defeated him in the May municipal election.
“I thought ‘I’m going to give it to Walker, as a show of support for him,’” DeHay recalled after the council meeting.
As Mayor Stephen Haynes prepared to present the plaque to DeHay, Haynes said DeHay was an “exceptionally diligent” councilman who brought insight and was a consistent and calming voice.
DeHay said it had been “an incredible privilege — I think the greatest privilege of my life — to serve on this council … I’ve developed an enormous appreciation for the leadership in this community and all of our departments, and throughout this entire city operation.
“ Like most citizens, I took for granted all the things that the city does, without ever considering the magnitude and the complexity of the city operations.”
DeHay went on to deliver accolades to former and current council members, City Manager Emily Crawford and her predecessor, Bobby Rountree, City Attorney Pat Chesser and Finance Director Walter Middleton.
DeHay then stood in front of Willey, his neighbor who defeated him as the younger man made his first try for an elected office.
“And Walker, I don’t know whether they got around to giving you a lapel pin or not,” DeHay told Willey as Willey stood to accept the pin and thank DeHay.
DeHay said later he appreciated how Willey stood to pay him respect. “I think he’s going to do a good job,” DeHay said. “He’s a fast learner, he’s listening, he’s paying attention.
“He stood up out of respect. That meant a lot to me. That tells me something about his character.”