City Council recognizes Local Legends

Vera and Joe Bloomer, Jim Boles and El Amistad selected by Historic Preservation Commission

The Historic Preservation Commission announced three Local Legend Award honorees at the City Council meeting on Thursday, Nov. 9.

Vera and Joe Bloomer, Jim Boles, and El Amistad were honored for their contributions to the culture, development, and history of the community.

As in the past, Local Legends were awarded a certificate of recognition. Recipients are also recognized on a plaque that lists all past honorees since the program’s inception.

Historic Preservation Commission Chair Pamela Sue Anderson presented the awards and highlighted some of the accomplishments of each of the award recipients.

Vera and Joe Bloomer

Vera and Joe Bloomer

Vera and Joe Bloomer moved to Round Rock shortly before Joe retired with 30 years of military service. They were married after he returned from World War II as a POW. Soon after establishing roots here, Vera observed that so many families needed help satisfying basic needs (food, clothing, etc.) so began their journey to founding the Round Rock Area Serving Center in 1986. Vera solicited assistance from local churches and began helping families using the trunk of her car, their family garage, and even the basement of the American Legion as distribution sites. 48,491 people from 12,385 households were provided these essentials in 2015 alone. Joe and Vera were also among the founders of St. John Vianney Catholic Church.

Joe Bloomer was selected by El Amistad to be recognized as a veteran in 2017. He landed on Omaha Beach six days after D-day, was captured by the Germans and eventually liberated by Russian troops. Joe also served in a supply role in Vietnam after joining the Air Force.  Among his awards are the Bronze Star and recognition as a POW. Joe was also a 4th degree member of the Knights of Columbus, toastmaster and the 15th Commander of the Capitol City Chapter of American ex-POWs. Vera passed away July 22, 2012, followed by Joe on July 16, 2016.

Jim Boles

Jim Boles

Jim and his wife, Monti, moved to Round Rock in the mid-70s when its population was less than 6,000 and tax base was $13.7 million.  Today Round Rock’s population is almost 110,000 with a tax base of $12.5 billion. Jim’s leadership during this time produced much of this positive growth.

Jim chaired the Round Rock Economic Development Committee for many years and started Momentum, a civic/city partnership that today oversees hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. He has helped recruit several Fortune 500 companies and others such as Toppan Photomask, Dell, Farmers Insurance, Emerson, Round Rock Express, and most recently Kalahari.

Jim is credited with initiating the drive that brought the first hospital to Round Rock, the St. David’s Round Rock Medical Center. Today Round Rock and the surrounding area have five hospitals, nearly all of which he played some role in locating here.

In the late 1970s, Jim and good friend Nancy Rabb helped start the Williamson County YMCA and it has grown today with an annual budget of over $26 million.

Jim is a founding member of the Round Rock Community Foundation, and has served as Chair and Vice-chair. The Foundation has made grants exceeding $5.8 million over the past 13 years and its asset base has grown to over $16.9 million in charitable funds.

In the area of higher education, Jim was a founding member of the PAC that brought Austin Community College to Round Rock followed by Texas State University among others.

For many years the Williamson County Historical Commission has sought to establish a museum branch in Round Rock. When the historic William M. Warren/ Thomas C. Oats complex, 8 Chisholm Trial, became available in 2016, the Commission turned to Jim Boles for support and more importantly to negotiate the purchase of the buildings. Jim succeeded in acquiring the site and donated his fee to the Commission. Since then he has volunteered to serve as campaign co-chair to raise one million dollars to furnish the museum.

El Amistad

Members of El Amistad

El Amistad is a diverse organization consisting of business owners, education professionals, and retirees all working together to provide scholarships for the future educational endeavors of our local youth.

The club was founded in 1968 to develop leadership in Round Rock’s Hispanic Community. Its members were encouraged to volunteer and become members of boards, task forces, and input groups. Currently its members serve in organizations including CASA advocates for children in the foster care system, United Way, PTA, Neighborhood Conference Committee Truancy Diversion, city commission and board volunteers, and as mentors and tutors of area youth.

The first Fiesta Amistad was Memorial Day weekend of 1969. Every Memorial Day since the club has honored Round Rock citizens individually for their military service.

Education has always been a priority for El Amistad. It awarded its first scholarship in 1970, and has sponsored tutorial programs, bilingual programs, and Literacy Council scholarships. Members representing the organization have volunteered at numerous other community and fundraising opportunities such as Kutz4Kidz, School supply drives, Stuff the Bus, Chalk Walk, and the Club’s golf tournament to raise funds for local area youth scholarships.  In its 50 years the Club has awarded over one and one half million dollars in scholarships which were made possible due to the untiring efforts of the membership in the fundraising events.

The Local Legend Awards program was established in 1990. To date, 70 recipients have been honored. Award recipients in the past have included not only people, but organizations, places like Lone Star Bakery, and a book, “Historical Round Rock Texas”, written by local authors. Award recipients are selected based on the following criteria:

  • Importance to the City’s founding or growth;
  • Association with an historic place or event;
  • Impact of service to the community’s history, development or culture;
  • Achievements that have brought honor and distinction to the City of Round Rock.

This year’s nomination and selection process was assisted by a citizen volunteer committee that included Kami Barron, Jesus Franco, Jennifer Henderson, Rufus Honeycutt, Dale Ricklefs, Audrey Simmons and Tina Steiner. After reviewing nominations, the committee made its recommendation to the Round Rock Historic Preservation Commission in September.

Local Legend Award nominations are accepted throughout the year by the Planning and Development Services Department of the City of Round Rock.  For more information, contact Joelle Jordan at 512-218-5422 or jjordan@roundrocktexas.gov. Additional information on this year’s recipients, past recipients and photos are available on the City’s website at roundrocktexas.gov/locallegends.                

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