Friends and colleagues of retiring Waco City Manager Dale Fisseler sent him off Monday with custom cowboy boots, good-natured ribbing and a choreographed flash mob dance.

Fisseler, 58, will wrap up his four-year tenure as city manager this week, passing the reins to Deputy City Manager Wiley Stem III.

More than 200 well-wishers at the Waco Convention Center event listened as speakers recalled Fisseler’s hard work, easygoing style and bottomless reserve of dad jokes.

“Dale never ceases to amaze me,” Stem said. “He always manages to get humor and fun into his presentations. He always manages to invite people for a free cup of coffee at City Hall. The way he treats people naturally builds positive relationships. He takes tough situations and turns them to a positive.

“I think everyone can agree, he’s our funniest-ever city manager,” he said, with a nod to Fisseler’s predecessor, Larry Groth. “I was going to say the smartest, but Larry told me not to.”

Before moving back to his native Waco in 2010, Fisseler had a long career with the city of Fort Worth, retiring as its city manager. Groth then hired him on as Waco’s deputy city manager in 2011.

Mayor Kyle Deaver credited Fisseler for his role in making Waco a tourist destination and making progress on riverfront development and a $300 million program of infrastructure upgrades.

“We wouldn’t be close to where we are if not for your leadership,” Deaver said.

Fisseler said he is looking forward to spending more time with his young grandchildren and plying the waters of Lake Waco in his houseboat. He said he also expects to stay involved in civic matters, including through a position on the Cooper Foundation board.

Fisseler said he is leaving the city in good shape and in good hands.

“Waco’s best years are ahead of it,” he said. “I look forward to being a citizen in Waco.”

Dozens of people in the crowd, ranging from city employees to state Rep. Charles “Doc” Anderson, saw Fisseler off with a spirited flash mob dance they had secretly learned from a YouTube video.

Council members showed their appreciation with a pair of handmade boots emblazoned with Waco’s “Flying W” logo, as well as a membership to the Baylor Club — a mischievous gift for a die-hard Aggie.

Councilman Dillon Meek said Fisseler will be missed.

“You’re so excellent at what you do,” Meek said. “Your legacy is to see our town prospering because of your leadership. There’s such decency, humility, integrity and honor in what you do.”

J.B. Smith is the the Tribune-Herald managing editor. A native of Sulphur Springs, he attended Southwestern University and joined the Tribune-Herald in 1997. He and his wife, Bethany, live in Waco and have two children.

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