Leaving a Legacy of Transformation
As a young City Manager of seven years in Columbus, Texas, George Purefoy began to look for a city with more growth potential to serve. Over the years, the one-time Arlington police officer has often shared how he came to Frisco, Texas. Taking out a map one night in the late 1980s, he followed Preston Road up through the Dallas Metroplex north to Frisco, a town just shy of 6,000 residents. At that time, he decided that he would apply if a City Manager position were to open up in the tiny yet promising town of Frisco. Praying about this decision with his wife Debra on that very same night, it was only one week later that George Purefoy would receive a call from the City of Frisco asking him to apply for the role of City Manager. Many call this fate, and many would call this an answered prayer.
The Rest is History!
In 1986, the City of Frisco had the minimum number of 5,000 residents required by state law to become a home-rule city, which would allow more autonomy and flexibility for growth as its neighboring cities had done. Residents elected a 15-man committee to draft a city charter. Once the charter was approved, a search committee began reviewing candidates to hold the position of Frisco’s first City Manager.
At that time, the City of Frisco had an administrator that would be a likely candidate for this position, but because this new charter required that the City Manager candidate have previous City Manager or Assistant City Manager experience, Mack Borchardt did not qualify for the job. (Spoiler Alert: It all worked out well for Mr. Borchardt, who became the city’s first full-time Fire Chief, leading the Frisco Fire Department to earn one of the nation’s highest ratings.)
When Mr. Purefoy took the job in 1987, the City of Frisco, with just under 50 employees, was financially broke and had trouble paying its bills. “Fortunately, that’s not the case now. The city is in good financial condition, and we don’t have to cash on delivery anymore,” Purefoy shared. The city has now grown to over 1,500 employees.
Humble, kind, gentle, soft-spoken, and servant leader are just a few of the words that can describe Frisco’s City Manager, George Purefoy. In the book “Frisco: The First 100 Years,” life-long resident Sam Roach describes Mr. Purefoy as most people do. “He’s been a godsend to the City of Frisco; he’s a professional manager. He’s very humble; he doesn’t take credit for anything, but a lot of what has happened has happened because of him.”
Purefoy is always quick to credit the many people involved during the critical points and development in Frisco’s transformation over the 34 years since coming to Frisco.
George Purefoy has led Frisco through a significant transformation over that time. Early on, Purefoy recognized the need for infrastructure including an adequate water supply for the growing community and obtaining the right-of-way for the Dallas North Tollway extension.
“We were able to get 320 acres of right of way, which was 300 feet wide from Hwy 121 up to Hwy 380 and present that as a package to the toll road authority to put Frisco on the map for an extension,” Purefoy shared. The right-of-way was obtained at no cost to the City of Frisco.
One major development that was most likely the catalyst to Frisco’s economic growth was securing Stonebriar Centre Mall. “The mall played a key role in having the financial resources to get a lot of the projects that people know Frisco by today; the RoughRiders and Dallas Stars headquarters coming to Frisco, Embassy Suites and the Conference Center, FC Dallas and Toyota Stadium, The Star and the Cowboys, and now the PGA development.”
Once again underscoring the importance of the Dallas North Tollway, Purefoy notes, “without getting the toll road extended up through Frisco, most of those developments, perhaps all of those wouldn’t have happened.”
Purefoy acknowledges that Frisco ISD has been a partner in most of the named developments. Recognizing that the excellent reputation of Frisco ISD is a driver in relocations to Frisco, Purefoy has often been cited as saying, “If it is good for Frisco ISD, then it’s good for the City of Frisco.”
George Purefoy recalls the early days when “We used to call and try to get people to let us come see them about locating a business in Frisco. A lot of times, we wouldn’t even get a call returned. It took getting everything in place to where we could compete for quality developments and quality projects, quality of industry relocations.” Today, even innovative pilot programs are reaching out to Frisco on their own! The City of Frisco has developed a reputation of excellence and innovation under Purefoy’s leadership.
To mention George Purefoy’s accolades and the City Hall building and an elementary school named after him, makes this humble man blush. However, the residents and city employees desired to honor the man that has left a legacy in Frisco and has made many contributions to the future generations that will call Frisco home.
Because of the many, many years of steady leadership of George Purefoy, it is evident that the City of Frisco will continue to transform and remain the best place to live, work, and play!
George Purefoy’s parting words as City Manager once he retires on June 30, 2022? “It has been a real blessing to be here.” Those words indeed come from his heart.
And his advice to our next City Manager? “Be transparent and honest.” Those few words speak to the legacy that Mr. George Purefoy is leaving in Frisco.
This article first appeared in our 2022 Community Guide. In this picture, Mr. Purefoy is being interviewed by Frisco Chamber President, Tony Felker at Leadership Frisco Economic Development Day. Class members always looked forward to hearing George speak.
At the Annual Awards Gala in February of 2022, the Frisco Chamber of Commerce presented George Purefoy with a visionary award.
The Visionary Award is one that is only given on very rare occasions!
This award is given to individuals who have made contributions to Frisco far in excess of any one year, or any one recognition and has only been given to certain individuals whose contributions were ahead of their time and truly changed what Frisco would be and has become. In the past, this award has been given to such noted contributors to Frisco including the late Harold Bacchus and Rich Reedy.