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Lila Cockrell, first female mayor of San Antonio, passes away at 97

Written by on August 29, 2019

Lila Cockrell, first female mayor of San Antonio, passes away at 97 |

SAN ANTONIO — Lila Cockrell, San Antonio’s first female mayor and an icon in the Alamo City, has passed away at the age of 97.

“If there were a Mount Rushmore for our city, Lila Cockrell would be on it. She was a great San Antonian,” the city’s’ current mayor, Ron Nirenberg, wrote in a statement Thursday.

Cockrell was first elected in 1975 and served three terms before running again in 1989 and serving another term. Prior to serving as the city’s mayor, she served for a decade on San Antonio City Council.

She also served as president of the San Antonio Parks Foundation from 1998 until 2013.

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KENS 5 anchor Deborah Knapp caught up with Cockrell in January at the San Antonio Women’s Hall of Fame. 

That same month, she released a memoir entitled Love Deeper Than a River: My Life in San Antonio. 

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It is clear that Lila Cockrell left her mark on the Alamo City. There is a theater in the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in downtown San Antonio that bears her name.

Read Nirenberg’s full statement below:

If there were a Mount Rushmore for our city, Lila Cockrell would be on it. She was a great San Antonian.

I deeply valued our friendship, which started through a mutual appreciation for jazz music, the arts and our environment. Lila’s generosity with her time, knowledge and insight was incredibly helpful.

She was a consummate statesman. She exuded class and never involved herself in the pettiness of politics despite all of the years that she was in the center of political life in San Antonio. She was a stellar role model for young women and young men.

I don’t think she gets proper credit for ushering in an era of equal representation. She really did bridge the gap into the single-member district era. There would be no modern San Antonio without her leadership through that transition.

In addition to serving on City Council and two separate stints as mayor, Lila continued to dedicate her life to public service as president as of the San Antonio Parks Foundation for 15 years in addition to numerous other roles. She was a towering example of civic engagement at its finest. Her quiet but powerful service-oriented activism throughout her life was truly an inspiration to all who care about San Antonio and admire true leadership.


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