James Tony Goolsby died on September 4, 2020, in Dallas, Texas, surrounded by his family after a courageous battle against cancer. Born on November 9, 1933, Tony was raised by Thelma and Herman Ross in Longview, Texas. Following his service in the United States Army, Tony earned a Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of North Texas, where he was a member of Theta Chi Fraternity.
Tony met Toppy Tannery at Lovers Lane United Methodist Church, where Tony was an usher, and Toppy was always late to church. Even though Toppy wasn’t exactly sure which usher Tony was when he called her, they went on a first date on February 18, 1971. They were married on September 18, 1971, and together raised three daughters and five female dogs.
A man of many talents, after working as a teacher, coach, principal, and a pharmaceutical rep, he opened an Independent Insurance Agency in the 1980s. He successfully ran his small business in Dallas for over 20 years. In 1988, Tony was elected to the Texas House of Representatives representing North Dallas and Richardson, where he served 20 years. As a legislator, Tony worked to protect victims of sexual assault, strengthen the reach of Amber Alerts, increase accessibility to higher education, protect consumers from unwanted solicitations, cut taxes for small business, and establish identity theft as a state crime.
Tony was a leader in the Texas House of Representatives. He served as Chairman of the Committee on House Administration and as Vice Chairman of the Committee on Higher Education. Tony loved helping Texans and continued to work in Austin as a lobbyist until the time of his death. During his career, he was President of the Independent Insurance Agents of Dallas, on the Board of Directors at Pavillion Bank, and the Head of Political Actions for Independent Insurance Agents of Texas.
Tony received numerous awards, most notably the Longview High School Distinguished Alumni, the North Texas State University Outstanding Greek Alumni, Dallas Police Association Award, Kilgore College Ex-Student of the Year, Distinguished Service Award from the Texas Chamber of Commerce, Texas Realtors Association Award, and Texas Pediatric Society Child Advocacy Award.
Although he never officially “retired,” Tony and Toppy spent the last decade traveling with family and friends, driving through the National Parks, spending Thanksgivings in Hawaii, taking riverboat cruises in Europe, and visiting their granddaughters in California.
Tony was a member of Lovers Lane United Methodist Church for over 50 years and was generous with his time and resources. In 2001, he and Toppy dedicated the Goolsby Chapel at UNT and created the Toppy and Tony Goolsby Family Trust Rangerette Scholarship at Kilgore College.
Tony’s favorite hobby was his friendships. His quick wit and sense of humor always got a laugh, but there was never a more loyal friend than Tony. It didn’t matter if you were on top of the world or down on your luck–you knew you could count on Tony. He made a lasting impact on everyone he called a friend.
Tony is survived by his wife, Toppy Goolsby; his children Mellie Mathis & Chris Duncan and Cherrie & Jay Wysong (all of Dallas, TX); Brooke & Sean Welch and his grandchildren, Delaney and Riley Welch (all of Oakland, CA); his sister Marcia Ross of Longview, TX; and numerous nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his brother Eddie Goolsby. Tony is also survived by his beloved dog, Prissy.
A private burial was held on September 11, 2020, at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas. A celebration of life in Dallas will be planned when all who loved Tony can safely gather.
The Goolsby family would like to give a special thanks to Baylor Scott and White Plano, Faith Presbyterian Hospice, Visiting Angels, and Acappella In-Home Care. Tony was blessed to be in their care. In lieu of flowers, the Goolsby family suggests a donation to the following organizations: Texas Oncology Foundation (www.texasoncologyfoundation.org), Twelfth Step Ministry (twelfthstepministry.org), Shih Tzu Rescue (https://tzuzoorescue.com).
Tony’s legacy is his devotion to family, friends, and faith and his service to the State of Texas. Tony’s life and impact will not be forgotten if we follow Tony’s words, “Always remember to keep your head screwed on straight.”