Terri Hoover, owner of the Artistik Edge, has often been called the “Mayor of the Lake Highlands Town Center” because she was the first, and for a while only, business owner to take a chance on the development at the southeast corner of Skillman and Walnut Hill. Bill Blaydes also deserves a great deal of credit. Years before construction began there — years before crews demolished apartments with some of the neighborhood’s highest crime rates — former councilman Blaydes worked behind the scenes to recruit respected developers and investors to bring a mixed-use blend of retail, restaurants and high-end residential to our neighborhood.
“Because of what we celebrate today,” Blaydes said at a 2008 groundbreaking ceremony, “Lake Highlands will not become stagnant for our children.”
Blaydes died Wednesday night after a lengthy illness. He was 77 years old.
Blaydes spent his early childhood in Gilmer, 30 miles north of Tyler, Texas. His family moved to Fort Stockton, then Houston, then Dallas, and by the time he enrolled at Hillcrest High, he was 6-foot-3 and 195 pounds. He played football and baseball, threw the discus and ran the quarter mile, and only a broken collarbone during his freshman year at Texas Tech ended his dreams of playing football in college.
After graduation, Blaydes married Sara Petet, his high school sweetheart, and they moved to Lake Highlands to raise daughters Erin, Jennifer and Rachael. The girls brought home countless friends over the years, including many who considered themselves members of the family and were given keys to the front door. During a toast at Erin’s wedding rehearsal, Blaydes stood up and asked party-goers to raise their hands if they had a key to his home. More than a dozen hands shot up.
Blaydes never gave up his passion for football, so he adopted a Pee-Wee team and took on coaching duties. In 1983, he earned a national championship with the Casa View Knights.
“One of my biggest thrills now is when one of my old players comes around and calls me ‘coach’,” he said in 1992. “I’ve always loved working with kids, and I’ve always loved coaching football.”
In 1987, Lake Highlands High School needed an announcer for Wildcat football games. The coach asked his varsity players for ideas, and several shouted out the name of their Pee-Wee coach with the booming voice. He became “The Voice of Lake Highlands,” and folks recall hearing him announce touchdowns for the Cats, even from their homes around the neighborhood. He was succeeded later by Bob Johnston, who currently calls games from the press box at Wildcat Stadium.
“I’ll announce for as long as they’ll let me,” he told Advocate back then. “Besides, my wife told me that she’d rather I announce anyway, so she doesn’t have to sit by me. I guess that I’ve been known to get a little loud sometimes.”
Blaydes was elected to the Dallas city council in 2003 and served four years between the terms of Alan Walne and Jerry Allen. Before that, he was a member of the city plan commission. He was an active member of Park Cities Baptist Church and the Lake Highlands Exchange Club.
“Dad loved this community with every ounce of his heart,” said Erin Blaydes Anderson. “The 4th of July parade was the highlight of his year. He called it his ‘gauge for monitoring the health of LH.’ It thrilled his soul to watch all the young families streaming by.”
Working as a commercial real estate broker, he sometimes spoke of the double-edged sword of empty nesters, like himself, who enjoy Lake Highlands so much, they never want to sell their home and make room for young families to move in.
“We love our hills and we love our trees and we’ve raised our children here,” he said. “It’s just like a small town.”
Blaydes is survived by his wife, daughters, grandchildren and other beloved family members. Services will be held at 11 a.m. Oct. 9 at Park Cities Baptist Church in the Ellis Chapel.