Vera Calvin made history as Burleson’s first and only female mayor. Now, the city she loves so much is paying homage to her by constructing a plaza in her honor in its popular Old Town area.
“It’s amazing they chose me to honor. I love Burleson,” Calvin, now 91, said, adding with a laugh. “I feel like it’s a gift for all the headaches I went through on the council.
“It just means the world to me that they think I’m deserving. I’m very honored.”
The design of the plaza will include:
▪ A plush lawn consisting of real hybrid Bermuda grass.
▪ Shade pavilions with seating, ping pong and foosball tables.
▪ Permanent performance stage with lighting and audio/visual capabilities.
▪ Red 411 Parlor Car trolley backdrop and viewing platform.
▪ Children’s play area with small scale play trolley.
▪ Activity area for lawn games.
▪ Public restrooms.
▪ ADA access to both trolley cars.
▪ Movable seating and tables.
Work on the project began in late May 2019. A grand opening event is expected in the fall, city officials said.
The cost of the plaza was $6.6 million and was paid for with tax increment funds collected in the Old Town overlay, officials said.
Calvin moved to Burleson in 1957 with her husband and two daughters. She worked as a registered nurse at the Fort Worth State School from 1976 until 1993.
She was elected to the city council four times for two-year terms and once for one year. In 1988, when Mayor Jerry Boone resigned, Calvin was sworn in as mayor. She was then elected mayor in 1989 for one year, followed by re-election for two years in 1990.
While serving Burleson as a council member and mayor, she was involved in the Comprehensive 20/20 Plan, purchase of the interurban building for a museum and visitor center, recycling center, D.A.R.E. program, and a separate building for the police department and other projects.
“In 1980 someone said we needed a woman to serve on the council, so I said OK, and it was a great decision on my part,” she said.
“My family has known hers forever. She knows me better than I do myself,” current Burleson Mayor Ken Shetter said. “I just have the utmost respect for Vera. She had a big a hand in professionizing our city and how we do our jobs. By the time I came along (2004) and we were facing the kind of growth we were, a big reason we were able to handle it was because of Vera.
“This plaza is going to be a significant part of our city. It’s a great honor. It’s nice to know it’s special to her, too, and that she is here to enjoy it.”