Many of the days in the past have settled in the mind, dusty and forgotten, and then there are others still illuminated brightly like the morning sun.
This is one of those that’s still fresh.
It’s July, a week after the Fourth, 1986, Billy Miner’s Saloon, downtown Fort Worth, amid a crowded after-5 p.m. workweek gaggle of beer drinkers, loud and raucous. A difficult time and place for a formal introduction but perfect for conviviality and genuine fun.
That’s when and where I met Arnie Gachman, a man as genuine, sincere, and warmhearted as they come. He was old-line Fort Worth, and I was the new, 39-year-old president and publisher of the Star-Telegram.
We had a friend in common, sadly long-since passed, who offered to fly in from Pennsylvania to introduce me to Arnie, which he did that Friday afternoon. Arnie was literally the first businessperson in the community that I met.
There could not have been a better ambassador for this city. Now, 36 years later, I am still watching him meet and welcome folks. Just last year I met a new banker in town.
“Have you met any other businessmen and women?” I asked over breakfast.
He said he’d met a great guy who had introduced him to several other folks.
“Arnie Gachman,” he said.
I told him Arnie is a one-man welcoming committee and he was in good hands.
The Gachmans have been in business in Fort Worth for decades and decades. Today Arnie owns Gamtex Industries and runs it along with family members. Arnie and his wife, Harriette, are active in a variety of activities, boards and community endeavors.
It’s a strong family. For many years at lunch, you could find Arnie and his father with other generations of Gachmans at lunch at the late Mike Smith’s Paris Coffee Shop on Magnolia.
Fittingly this year, on Nov. 1, Arnold G. Gachman will be honored as Business Executive of the Year at the 52nd Fort Worth Business Hall of Fame event sponsored by Texas Wesleyan University, the Fort Worth Business Press and the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. The event will be held at the Fort Worth Club with proceeds benefiting the Thomas H. Law Scholarship Fund.
It is an honor reserved for Fort Worth’s most notable business leaders.
Arnie has over many years been a quiet but persistent driving force behind many Fort Worth and Tarrant County business and civic initiatives. He’s never sought public recognition or personal glory but has steadily pushed to make this city better.
There is no greater friend to Fort Worth or to fortunate individuals such as me than Arnie Gachman.
On that July night in the crowded bar as well known for the peanut shells strewn on the floor as for its burgers and beer, conversation was difficult but we shouted to one another how great it was to meet and, oh sure, we’d get together soon. Let me know how I can help, he said. Among folks in those circumstances such exchanges often are just words thrown into the air to float away and never to land again.
But in Arnie’s eyes and effortless smile I could see he was sincere. He meant it and we have been friends ever since. We can go months and maybe even a year or so without seeing each other but when we meet the friendship, kindness, welcoming spirit, and sense of humor remain.
I’ve known and appreciated him for a long time. It’s wonderful to know that on Nov. 1 the community at large will get to know, appreciate and celebrate Arnie Gachman.
Richard Connor is president and publisher of the Fort Worth Business Press. Contact him at email@example.com