Wolfforth to honor Donald Preston at reception on Sunday

At 75 years young, Donald Preston has decided to hang up his judicial robes and retire.

The part-time Wolfforth municipal judge has served Wolfforth in a variety of ways since returning to his hometown just over 40 years ago. He was mayor for nine years and a City Council member for 16 years.

“I’ve been the judge for 18 years,” Preston said.

The city of Wolfforth is honoring Donald Preston with a reception at City Hall at 302 Main St. in Wolfforth on Sunday, Sept. 22, from 2-3:30 p.m.

He joked that he is retiring because he is “tired of it.” But in truth, he said, he has enjoyed being the judge, especially when he has been able to work with youths.

“Hopefully I’ve helped some youth along the way,” he said.

He has a few stories to tell about being a judge.

“When I first started, I had a young man that, he was about as tall as this ceiling,” Preston said, indicating the ceiling above the dining room table in his home in Wolfforth.

When the young man’s name was called, he answered with, “Yo,” Preston said.

“That didn’t go over too well,” Preston said after a pause. He said he gave that youth a 15-minute talk about respect, and never saw him again as a judge.

Sometimes, Preston said, he had to talk to the people who came in about calling him sir.

He and his wife of 58 years, Sylvia, said that saddens them.

“But I’ve enjoyed it,” he said.

As a judge, he said he enjoyed everything about the job — except the continuing education about laws in Austin.

Frankie Pittman, the former city manager of Wolfforth, said she has known the Prestons for a long time.

“He has been completely dedicated to this community. He and his wife both have been pillars of this community,” Pittman said. “He’s a super guy.”

Pittman said Donald Preston was always available when she needed help.

“He was a great mayor, one of my favorites,” she said.

She said she never had the occasion to go before Preston on the bench, but said she could hear him in his office talking to people who did.

“I thought he was always fair, and I thought he did an excellent job with the juveniles,” Pittman said. “He was firm, but always fair.”

The Prestons were sweethearts at Frenship High School, and have made it through farming for 18 years in other West Texas communities, and owning a meat packing business in Wolfforth.

“There’s not very many couples who could own a business and both work in it together for 25 years and survive,” Sylvia Preston said.

Donald Preston joked that they survived because he did what she said to do.

When they came back to Wolfforth in 1972, they got involved in the meat packing business and in civic service. Not only did Donald Preston serve in city government, Sylvia also served on the City Council and as mayor.

Serving as mayor was different in the 1970s and 1980s, Donald Preston said.

“We didn’t have a business manager then. And so, the mayor had it to do, to buy cars and all that,” he said.

He said he also got a lot more chewing out, some related to issues that Wolfforth still has today, such as the manganese in the water.

“I had a lady that called and said, ‘You come clean my commode.’ I said, ‘I don’t even clean my own,’ ” Preston said.

Having a street named after him was a surprise, he said.

“It’s alright,” he said.

Laughing, he said he has told some tales about how that came about.

“I had a youth director that said, ‘You got that name on that street.’ I said, ‘Yeah, it cost me $100,000.’ I never did tell him any different,” Preston said.

He also laughed when asked if he had ever thought he would have a street named after him later in life.

“Shoot, no,” he said.

The biggest change the Prestons said they have seen in Wolfforth since they were teens is the growth of the area.

“Oh, the housing! The growth. And the school, my word. The school has just grown tremendously,” he said.

In retirement, the Prestons say they plan to spend most of their time at their grandchildren’s activities.

The city of Wolfforth is honoring Donald Preston with a reception at City Hall at 302 Main St. in Wolfforth on Sunday, Sept. 22, from 2-3:30 p.m.

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