A Brief History

“Tyler Sister Cities happened,” recalls former president of The University of Texas at Tyler George Hamm, “because of a providential tour of French universities in 1982.”

One of 20 American university presidents visiting educational facilities on an International Sister Cities Board grant, Hamm learned of Metz, France’ interest in Sister Cities partnerships.  From tours of the city and its educational institutions;  Hamm envisioned a potential relationship. Metz wanted to partner as a Sister City, and Hamm thought Tyler might be ready for such an opportunity!

The awareness of Sister City benefits grew. Attending an International Sister Cities meeting in Florida, Hamm and wife, Janie, were joined by Tyler Mayor Norman Shtofman and Charles and Ann Primer, also enthusiastic about building international community partnerships. Other incorporators and directors included Dr. Hamm, Carol Sinclair, J.R. Borgerding, Gary Gwyn (Tyler City Manager)

The group’s visit to the Tyler City Council and the Tyler Chamber of Commerce, seeking endorsement of a Tyler Sister City program, brought results. While few in Tyler had ever heard of the Sister City concept, “there were some really enthusiastic people who agreed to move forward,” Hamm adds.  

Tyler's Sister Cities:

  1. Metz, France: 1983 – 1986 (Not active)
  2. Yachiyo, Japan: 1992 – present
  3. Jelenia Gora, Poland: 1993 – present
  4. Lo Barnechea, Chile 2001 – present (We are working to re-establish the partnership.)
  5. San Miquel de Allende, Mexico: 2010 – present
  6. Liberia, Costa Rica: 2013 – present
  7. Qujing, China (Currently a “Friendship City”).
Locally, Tyler Sister Cities, Inc., began in 1982-83 through efforts of Dr. George Hamm to offer a global vision for the East Texas/Tyler community.

Dr. George Hamm, Former President, UT-Tyler

Locally, Tyler Sister Cities, Inc., began in 1982-83 through efforts of Dr. George Hamm to offer a global vision for the East Texas/Tyler community.
Tyler Sister City Corporation got a life in 1982 with Mayor Shtofman also serving as its first president.

Tyler Mayor Norman Shtofman

Tyler Sister City Corporation got a life in 1982 with Mayor Shtofman also serving as its first president.

Metz, France, the first sister city

During the Tyler twinning in 1984, French flags flew at Tyler businesses, entertainment for Metz guests included square dancing, country western bands and a Rambling Roses square dance show.

Tyler Sister City efforts earned three Intern awards: Best Overall Program, Best Single Youth Project, and Best 1st Year Program, presented June 28, 1984 at the 24th Annual Sister Cities Conference in Denver, Colorado.

Tyler Police Chief Larry Robinson traveled to Metz for study of French police methods of computerized suspect descriptions. Three Metz students spent a month in Tyler in 1985, hosted by the James Borgerding and John Short families.  Metz/Tyler relationships celebrated their fifth anniversary with a Tyler student travel/study trip to Metz.  In 1986, two Metz students held an internship with undergraduate training at Trane and UT Tyler’s department of technology. Don Garrison, assistant professor of Industrial Education at UT Tyler, coordinated the program.

Initial twinning with Metz, France took place in May, 1982 (with the actual twinning in Tyler in April, 1984), the association launched outreach in travel/study opportunities for Tyler residents, city government, and student/faculty  exchange programs.  

Interest in building closer ties between the two cities grew as Metz Sister Cities members traveled to Tyler in April 1984.  Tyler hosts offered “Texas samplings of food, culture and hospitality.”

Through a radio contest to “send your favorite teacher to France”, Anne LaCroix, Earth science teacher at Hogg Middle School, won the trip, and as a result of a continental dinner at La Serre restaurant in Tyler raised $3,000 for scholarships to bring Metz students to Tyler, the sisterly city ties expanded.

Efforts to showcase the Metz furniture, crystal, ceramics, sculpture, painting and embroidery industries through a Sister City economic trade fair in Tyler in late March of 1984 proved to be less than profitable, however, because of the oil industry slump. Added woe was Metz’ large population disparity to Tyler’s 80 thousand citizenry. Sister Cities collaborations with Metz ended in 1986.

Metz, France

Metz, France

Connecting with Mexico and Japan

Encouraging corporate partnerships with Sister City in 1987, Mayor J. R. Montgomery helped develop membership levels resulting in a $10,000 grant from Sister Cities International to Tyler Sister Cities that allowed six Mexican orphans to enroll at Tyler Junior College, paving the way to establishing a future Sister City in Mexico.

And in early May 1992, Yachiyo City, Japan formalized their interest in Sister City ties to Tyler, prompting twinning events in both cities. A young city emerging in 1967, Yachiyo City, located 18 miles east of Tokyo has an impressive wholesale/retail base, as well as an extensive Rose Garden, which naturally brought the two cities together.

Tyler Sister Cities grew

Since then, Tyler has twinned with four additional sister cities. These include Jelenia Gora, Poland; Lo Barnechea, Chile; San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; and Liberia, Costa Rica. Tyler is in the process of forming our 6th Sister City relationship with the city of Qujing in China.

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A meeting at Tyler City Hall on May 29, 1991, brought discussion about official Sister City twinning ceremonies and the possible hiring of instructors from Tyler who would teach English for a one year term in Yachiyo schools. Yachiyo mayor Hideo Tomioka, commented: “Tyler is a lively, bright town.” Left to right:  Hiroshi Miyazaki, International Sister City committee member;  Tyler Mayor Smith Reynolds; Yachiyo Mayor Tomioka; translator Ray Sullivan; Satoshi Okuyama, Yachiyo deputy chief of planning, and Junichiro Ohira, Yachiyo planning department staff member.

Tyler City Hall

A meeting at Tyler City Hall on May 29, 1991, brought discussion about official Sister City twinning ceremonies and the possible hiring of instructors from Tyler who would teach English for a one year term in Yachiyo schools. Yachiyo mayor Hideo Tomioka, commented: “Tyler is a lively, bright town.” Left to right: Hiroshi Miyazaki, International Sister City committee member; Tyler Mayor Smith Reynolds; Yachiyo Mayor Tomioka; translator Ray Sullivan; Satoshi Okuyama, Yachiyo deputy chief of planning, and Junichiro Ohira, Yachiyo planning department staff member.