40 Years & Counting
Fred Arbanas Honored For His Legislative Service
JANUARY 23, 2013 -- Fred Arbanas retired from the Kansas City Chiefs in 1970. He'd had a stellar career, becoming a driving force behind the Chiefs rise as one of the American Football League's greatest teams. He earned a spot as the tight end on the AFL All-Time Team, which was selected January 14, 1970 -- three days after the Chiefs defeated the Minnesota Vikings 23-7 in Super Bowl IV, the last-ever meeting between AFL-NFL rivals before the two leagues merged.
"I've made a lot of friends; I've served with some outstanding people." -- Fred Arbanas
In 1973, Fred Arbanas joined a new team. One he's been a part of ever since.
When the Jackson County Legislature convened for the first time, three years after voters approved a 1970 Charter that transformed their county government from one overseen by "presiding judges" to one featuring executive and legislative branches, Arbanas took his seat as the duly elected 4th District At-Large Legislator. All told, 67 different men and women have served as a Jackson County Legislator. Arbanas has been the one constant.
During the weekly meeting of the Jackson County Legislature on Tuesday, January 22, Arbanas' colleagues presented him with his 40-year service pin. He stated his intentions to run again when County Legislative elections are held again next year.
"I've been proud to be a part of Jackson County Government," Arbanas said. "Forty years has really flown by. When I first got elected, heck, I could still play softball and racquetball and everything else. Now I have a tough time just getting around because of my legs. But my head's OK and my heart's OK. As long as those parts of my body are OK, I'm going to keep running."
Earlier he joked that the decision to seek another term as a County Legislator had already been made for him: "I don't think there's any doubt about it. I've already been told by my wife and my secretary that I'm going to do it."
Voters made Arbanas their 3rd District At-Large representative in 1986, after previously casting ballots to restructure the Legislature by reducing it from 15 members to nine.
Fred Arbanas laughs when his legislative colleague Bob Spence jokes about "being just a baby" when Arbanas first began serving on the County Legislature in 1973.
"This might be as big an honor for me as it is to Fred," said 6th District Legislator Bob Spence as he presented the pin and a Missouri Association of Counties service certificate to Arbanas. "Fred, there is no doubt: You are one of the most beloved people in Jackson County. All of us who sit up here are proud to call you a friend and a colleague."
Spence noted that Arbanas' "most beloved" aspect of his legislative duties as been helping develop Jackson County's parks, especially through his role as the longtime chairman of the Land Use Committee. That system had no recreational programs, Arbanas pointed out, in 1973. Today, Parks + Rec oversees the third largest county parks systems in the nation, showcasing some of the finest public marinas in Missouri, sports programs, an extensive trails network and the Fred Arbanas Golf Course, ranked the No. 1 public or private course in the state according to a golflink.com survey. (The Longview Lake Golf Course's name was changed to honor Arbanas in 1999.)
His feats on the football field made Arbanas a household name in the Kansas City region during the 1960s. Since he hung up his No. 84 Chiefs jersey the last time, he has been repeatedly saluted for his athletic achievements. He was inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 1973, the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 1997 and the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. (Arbanas, a Detroit native, was a star player at Michigan State University.)
The admiration for Arbanas, however, extends beyond what he accomplished in sports, stressed County Executive Mike Sanders.
"Anywhere you go in Jackson County, people know who Fred Arbanas is, and they respect him," Sanders stated. "It's not just because of the football. It's everything he's done for this community."
"I've had a lot of good things happen to me in my lifetime," Arbanas said. "My family is probably A-number-1 that I'm proudest of. After that, believe it or not, is being elected to the County Legislature. To serve your community and be elected by the people you live with is a tremendous honor."
Arbanas has literally worked with them all -- every person to hold the office of County Legislator or County Executive.
"I've served with many, many outstanding people here," he said. "The crew we have right now is as good as any we've had. We have a County Executive who is fantastic and his staff's the same way. I'm just proud to be a team member as a County Legislator."