Log in
Black History Month

Rowls makes Aledo history

First black councilman



It’s a word we don’t use much anymore, but it’s something the ancients thought of incessantly. 

Perhaps it’s something we all should think of more. After all, we’ll all leave one. 

Choosing to leave a legacy of purpose and accomplishment has the ability to fill posterity with confidence and guide them as they strive to etch out a positive legacy of their own. A life lived haphazardly or destructively can often leave generations yet unborn to carry the burden of disappointment and shame. 

Nelson Rowls has sought to live his life as an example from the time he was a young man - an example to his children, an example to his future grandchildren, and an example to any young people in need of one as they seek their own path in life. 

He’s a man who is intentional about the example he lives out for others to see. He is also a man who cares deeply for the legacy he will one day leave behind. 

More than his own legacy

He doesn’t just care about his own legacy. He cares about the legacy of Aledo as well.

Making news headlines around the DFW metroplex and across the Lone Star State is nothing new for Aledo. Bearcat football’s prowess is known far and wide. But in April 2021, Aledo made national news for all the wrong reasons.

A group of students at the Daniel Ninth Grade center decided one fateful evening to host a “slave auction” on Snapchat where their peers could “bid” on several of their black classmates. It was a terrible act that undermined the humanity of those students who were victimized by the horrendous actions of a few of their classmates, for sure.

While that event was not the reason Rowls ultimately decided to throw his hat in the ring for city council in 2022, it certainly was a reason.

“I remember saying at the time, ‘The actions of a few, young teenagers is not how Aledo is,’” Rowls recounted. “One reason I wanted to get involved is because I don’t want people to put a slant on our city like that. Our city is not what the actions of a few immature teenagers did one night at the computer. 

“I think me being an African American, sitting on the park board and getting elected as a city councilman, that should show people - not just in Parker County and Tarrant County and all around - that isn’t the case. I like my city. I want to be here forever. I just don’t want people thinking that’s what we’re about, because it’s not.”

Historical vote

When the time came months later, Rowls’ name appeared on the ballot for city council in this small, yet proud North Texas town. In May of 2022 when all the ballots had been collected and all the votes tallied, he became the first black city councilman in Aledo history. Then, last July he made history again when he was unanimously named the first black mayor pro tem in Aledo by his fellow council members.

“Nelson and I were elected at the same time to serve the City of Aledo and it has been a pleasure to work with him throughout the years,” Mayor Nick Stanley extolled. “Nelson’s election to city council in May of 2022 and later mayor pro tem in July of 2023 was a historical occasion as he was the first African American to hold a place on the Aledo City Council. 

“I believe diversity creates an environment that encourages success, and I was glad to see this diversity achieved in our last city council election. Nelson is a true pillar of this community who embodies positivity and is a dedicated public servant who takes the time to support the city we both call home and the people who live here. He and I both value the ‘Aledo Way of Life’, which puts family, friends, neighbors, and our city’s rich history first. I look forward to continuing in service with him to bring only the best to our residents and visitors.”

Life before 

While Rowls isn’t a native Aledoan, he is a local. Born and raised in Fort Worth by his mother, he’s spent the majority of his life right here in the Metroplex. After graduating from high school in Fort Worth, Nelson headed a couple hours east in pursuit of a college education, which he received at Texas College in Tyler. 

Upon graduating in 1993, he returned back to Fort Worth, taking his first job with the parks and recreation department for the City of Fort Worth. At that time, the parks and recreation department started a new late night program designed to be an intervention and prevention for at-risk youth. 

He fell in love with the work in his first year on the job. Then he decided to stay for 28 more years before retiring in 2022 as the program director.  

Family man

A chance meeting while in traffic on his way to purchase a new pair of basketball shoes at DSW on Hulen changed Rowls’ life for the best. While sitting in the passenger seat of his friend Robert’s car at a red light, he noticed a beautiful woman driving the car in the next lane. As it turned out, Robert knew the young lady and helped persuade her to pull into the parking lot at The Container Store so that Rowls could ask her out. 

A year later Rowls proposed. He and his wife Lisa will celebrate their 22nd wedding anniversary later on this year.

Shortly after getting married, the couple celebrated the birth of their first daughter. Four years later, a second daughter was born.

The family lived on Carswell Military base for 10 years while Lisa worked for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. After her 10-year stint as the unit manager ended, the family began looking around the outskirts of the Metro for a smaller community to call home. They began driving around smaller towns like Haslet, Millsap, Willow Park, and Hudson Oaks in search of a smaller community that was family oriented. 

After a short drive through Aledo, it was clear where they wanted to be. Eight years ago the Rowls family joined the Aledo community, and hopes to call Aledo home for the foreseeable future. 

Their oldest daughter graduated from Aledo High School in 2022. Their youngest is a sophomore at AHS, and is on the school dance team. 

After retiring from the City of Fort Worth in 2022, Rowls is a basketball coach at Harvest Christian School in Keller. He spends a lot of time in Weatherford visiting his mother, who has been diagnosed with dementia, cherishing what time they have left. And in his free time, he’s an avid fisherman. 

It’s a life well-lived, and it didn’t happen by mistake. It happened by faith, belief, and intention with an eye towards being the example future generations could follow.

“Regardless of what society wants you to believe about ethnicity or culture, anything is possible,” Rowls said. “You can do whatever you set your mind to. If you want to be the captain of the Navy, the president, or the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, you can do whatever you set your sights on. I want to be that example for them. I hate to say it, but everything in our society today is about your political affiliation, skin color, if you’re short, fat, or tall. 

“I just want my kids, grandkids, and kids in general to know you can put all that aside, look up to the sky, do the best you can, and let the chips fall where they may. If you keep a positive attitude, things will work out for you.

“Hold yourself accountable to the best you can do. So many times we want to hold everybody else accountable to a high standard, but not ourselves. I want them to know, if you’ll hold yourself accountable, there’s no dream you can’t reach.”


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here