Mr. Stovall was best-known for his colorful nickname, but contemporaries say his tenure in public service - one term on the City Council and two as mayor between 1969 - 1975 - covered such critical developments as construction of the airport and a public referendum that led to single-member City Council districts in Fort Worth.
Mr. Stovall was born Aug. 1, 1916, in Tupelo, OK., and moved to Fort Worth when he was 5. The son of a single mother, he went to work as a high school student and later attended night classes at Texas Christian University.
Many friends assumed that his universally used nickname came from his card-playing prowess, but the name actually dated from Mr. Stovall ‘s youthful tenure as an amateur boxer. Mr. Stovall showed such promise that pals started playfully calling him “Sharkey” after Jack Sharkey, a celebrated world heavyweight champion of the 1930s who boxed both Joe Louis and Jack Dempsey. Mr. Stovall ‘s boxing career did not flourish, but the nickname stuck fast.
Mr. Stovall worked not only to help oversee D/FW’s construction but also to persuade federal officials to designate the new airport as a major hub with landing rights for key international flights. Mr. Stovall, who was mayor when ground was broken on the airport in 1973, was also a member of the D/FW Airport Board and several other transportation-oriented boards and commissions.
His tenure as mayor also included the vote by residents to elect their City Council members by geographical districts. The new election plan was approved in 1975, and Fort Worth’s first all-single-member-district council was elected in 1977.
Mr. Stovall also owned Panther City Office Supply, a business he founded in the 1940s. He sold the business after retiring from public life in 1975. But he continued his volunteer service on public boards. He died March 22, 1996 in Fort Worth, Texas.
- Clarke, Doug. “R.M. ‘ Sharkey ‘ Stovall former mayor dies at 79 - The longtime civic leader made Metroplex history as one of the forces behind the construction of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, March 23, 1996. Newsbank (FWST356496).
The provenance of this collection is unknown.
Scope and Contents Note
The Mayor R.M. “Sharkey” Stovall Papers contain correspondences from Mayor Stovall’s terms as mayor. The materials date from 1964 - 1975 and measure 5.2 linear feet (13 boxes). The collection is arranged into four series.
- Series I: Correspondence (1964 - 1975) - Contains letters to and from various City of Fort Worth departments during Stovall’s terms as mayor.
- Series II: Invitations (1969 - 1975) - Comprised of invites and letters to different organizations, people, and dignitaries.
- Series III: Speeches and Welcoming Remarks (1969 - 1974) - Consists of various speeches give at different functions.
- Series IV: Miscellaneous (1969 - 1975) - Contains assorted files and items.
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Last updated: Sept. 17, 2014