Yet those are not the recollections that come to mind when recalling former Mayor Jesse T. DeRusse Jr., who died Tuesday.
Jesse, only Beeville’s second Hispanic mayor, was elected to office in 1979 at a time of racial discord. Beeville’s Hispanic population had reached critical voting mass and the old, white guard wasn’t sure what to expect.
DeRusse, by nature a quiet and gentle man, landed in the middle of a lot of shouting, finger-pointing and general distrust. In the process, that same quiet, calm demeanor became a soothing balm for an irritated community.
He demonstrated leadership through actions that were fair to all and did so with grace and dignity shown to all. And in the end, isn’t that all any of us want? To be heard. To be considered. And to be treated with respect.
This was not some act. It was just Jesse being Jesse.
When he wasn’t mayor he was just going about his business, working at the post office and later the school district and college. Always with a gentle smile and a sincere greeting. He never asked for preferential treatment. When he left office, he left the spotlight and never sought it out again.
This was a good man.
It would be hyperbole to call him Beeville’s Gandhi, but you get the point.
In a room full of shouting people, sometimes it takes a quiet voice to pull things together. Jesse DeRusse provided that voice.
He was loved and he will be missed by many. But if ever there was a right man for the right time in Beeville, it was Jesse DeRusse.