Steve Wollard, a Dallas political activist who cofounded an influential Fb group known as Reform Dallas, died unexpectedly on Could 4; he was 55.
Wollard was identified for his outspoken, charismatic persona, and his capability to not simply embrace but in addition deliver collectively individuals with opposing views. On the Reform Dallas page, he turned a father determine and ringleader who helped interact native political leaders and steer the dialog in the direction of causes he championed, together with transparency and accountability in Dallas metropolis authorities.
He was additionally irreverent and unfiltered in a approach that made him distinctive in Dallas — and by no means shy about calling out traits or actions that he discovered unjust.
Barry Jacobs, who was an in depth pal, says that Wollard was pushed by his values.
“He did not a lot care about anything: he was content material to let another person make the coverage, however he needed absolute transparency as to how the cash acquired spent,” Jacobs says. “He completely couldn’t abide public corruption.”
Wollard was born on August 3, 1964 and grew up in Waco. He attended UT Austin, then labored in building and roofing.
“Steve was a large number of obvious contradictions,” Jacobs says. “He was a school dropout who went from operating a roofing enterprise to being a pioneer of bitcoin mining. He was a redneck from Waco who cared deeply about racial fairness. He was a surprisingly apolitical man who, by some means, turned a political pressure in our metropolis.”
Wollard additionally had an irreverent, bawdy facet which included salty language and over-the-top pronouncements. For instance, when a pal posted a photograph of a classic Mustang, Wollard’s remark was “So tits.”
The Reform Dallas web page was initially based by a gaggle of downtown Dallas residents, of which Wollard was one. Their efforts began out with a radical vibe that typically bordered on unhinged — however Wollard’s outreach to individuals from totally different neighborhoods remodeled the web page into a spot the place all walks of life might work together, thereby giving it extra credibility.
The web page additionally turned a robust marketing campaign instrument within the 2017 and 2019 Dallas Metropolis Council elections, serving to to highlight candidates similar to Scott Griggs, who ran for mayor in 2019, and Adam Bazaldua, who was elected to town council that very same 12 months.
When a public determine did one thing Wollard authorized of, he would proclaim them to be “a Goddamned American hero,” and made that phrase a recurring motif on the Reform Dallas web page, used any time somebody needed to acknowledge a great deed.
Mark Melton, one other shut pal, described Wollard as “only a common man with charisma to outpace his station.”
A part of that charisma sprang from the truth that he placed on completely no airs, Jacobs says.
“He was a Central Texas cracker who had graduated from the varsity of laborious knocks and completely didn’t give a rattling who knew it,” Jacobs says. “He was additionally wildly imaginative; he all the time had 100 loopy initiatives in thoughts — 99 of which had been batshit loopy, however one in all which might have this little germ of brilliance. Bitcoin was a type of, and it apparently did effectively by him. Reform Dallas was one other, and right here we’re.”
Throughout these polarized instances, Wollard’s strategy was an inspirational instance.
“He was a uncommon ‘cross the aisle’ form of chief,” Melton says. “He yelled loudly to encourage his base, after which went and truly tried to motive along with his opposition. Generally they’d transfer. And typically he would. It is a uncommon set of qualities in trendy politics that I want we might see extra of.”
“Whereas he actually thrived on controversy, his main motivator was merely to get to the suitable reply, no matter that was and in any respect prices,” Melton says. “Like all of us, he was topic to his personal biases and the lens of his personal life experiences, however he genuinely cared about his fellow man. And he spent quite a lot of his time working for the betterment of others, whether or not that was lobbying politicos to maneuver insurance policies he cared about or handing a burger and fries to the homeless man that frolicked on his block.”
CJ Gresh, one other pal, mentioned he admired Wollard as a result of he was not fearful.
“He was a pressure of nature,” Gresh says. “He pushed, cajoled, hell-raised, and delivered probably the most eloquent ‘fuck off’s in a city that champions itself on getting alongside — and he made it work.”
Providers haven’t been introduced.