BAYOU VISTA — John McWilliams who became the first mayor of Bayou Vista in 1985 died Tuesday after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 89.
McWilliams was first elected mayor of the new city in April 1985 defeating Howard Melvins Popham. A year later McWilliams was re-elected to a two-year term.
The retired mechanical engineer worked 30 years for Armco and served in the Air Force and Air Force reserves for 25 years including time as a navigator aboard a bomber during World War II.
McWilliams was a part of 50 missions over Italy during the war.
The Rice University graduate also served on the board of the utility district and the Bayou Vista Improvement Committee.
”He was a rare find” former Bayou Vista Mayor Billie Moore said.
She met McWilliams when he was on the improvement committee.
”He was a good public servant. He was smart he was fair and he was very detailed and farsighted. He was the type of public leader you wanted.
”He was an example for me and all of us who followed in his footsteps.”
McWilliams’ wife Ruthie said her late husband was responsible for establishing a police department in Bayou Vista and making sure streetlights were installed.
”I remember us renting a truck and driving up to Houston to get furniture (for the police department) from a business that had gone out of business” Mrs. McWilliams said.
The couple lived in Bayou Vista for 36 years and had it been up to Ruthie would have moved away after Hurricane Ike.
But McWilliams would have none of it his wife said.
”John loved it out here” she said. ”I wanted to move but he said no matter where we would go to there would be tornadoes or floods. So we stayed.”