Bill Gart may be our neighborhood’s busiest retiree. He left his career in the retail and wholesale business in 1994, but now the 87-year-old Army veteran volunteers with the Senior Affairs Commission, among other philanthropic endeavors. “I don’t let any grass grow under my feet,” he says.
How did you start volunteering?
When Lee Kleinman got voted in as councilman for District 11, he asked me if I would like to be on the Senior Affairs Commission. Until then, I didn’t know what this type of volunteering was. Four years ago, I took over housing. It bothered me that the people who qualified [for home repair] were falling through the cracks. I’ll never forget it. This one lady said, “Well, that’s the system.” I said, “Well, I’ll tell you what we’re going to do. We’re going to change the system.” This past fiscal year, nobody fell through the cracks. That was a major accomplishment for me.
How much time do you dedicate to the commission?
I have a great job. I have meetings about meetings. I’m working about 25 hours a week or more, depending on the amount of meetings I have. If you’re going to do it properly and you’re going to be able to accomplish something, you’ve got to put your heart and soul in it. I always joke it’s the job I’m retired to.
I can’t speak enough about the people who have been doing this for 40, 50 years. If I was a lot younger — and I’m not political — but I think I would’ve run for City Council, because you can really get things done.
If you were hypothetically on Dallas City Council, what are three things on your to-do list?
I’d be very, very concerned about the homeless. I’d be very, very concerned about affordable housing. The third thing would be — there’s so many things. Transportation would be another area I think I would be focused on.
What else are you up to?
My homeowner’s association has been collecting food and taking it to Vickery Meadow. Three years ago, we started collecting clothes. As I go around to homes, I always say to somebody, “Can you use clothes?” We have 50 or 60 huge bags that our association donates.
I have an idea, but it’s in its bare infancy. I want to get the various crime watch committees together to donate food. I figure if we can raise 8 to 10,000 pounds of food, what can we do with 30 or 40 crime watch groups?
Interview edited for clarity and brevity.
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