September 3, 2019

First Woman Mayor of San Antonio, Lila Cockrell, dies at age 97


Lila Cockrell, San Antonio’s first woman mayor, passed away on August 29th at the age of 97.  Service arrangements have been confirmed.  A memorial service will be held Thursday at 10 am at the Laurel Heights United Methodist Church located at 227 W. Woodlawn Ave.  A public tribute is also planned for later that day, Thursday, which will begin at 2 pm being held at the most fitting location- the Lila Cockrell Theatre.  The legacy of Cockrell will be honored at this time and will also be livestreamed on TVSA and the City of San Antonio’s Facebook Page.


From an early childhood age, Lila was surrounded by public service.  Cockrell’s father and mother were very involved in their community.  While her mother enjoyed more nonpolitical initiatives, her father enjoyed the government political side.  Cockrell sat down and shared her story in 1984 with Esther MacMillian of the Institute of Texan Cultures, Oral History Program.  You may read the full transcript HERE.  Cockrell loved her mother and her mother’s strength as a woman (see transcript HERE), we see the strength she speaks of in her monumental accomplishments.  Her tenure in city government in San Antonio began with serving 9 years on the San Antonio City Council.  Cockrell was deeply involved and led many initiatives to include serving as the chairman of the Alamo Area Council of Governments, chairman of the Firemen’s and Policemen’s Fund Board of Trustees, and member of the city’s public service, transit and water boards.  She also led the charge that established the first Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women.  Cockrell served on many levels in many ways, she loved San Antonio. 


(Photo: Lila Cockrell, Dr. Adena Loston, Artemisia Bowden, Nettie Hinton; ACCD)


Cockrell was very active in the League of Women Voters and served as president of the Dallas Chapter and president of the San Antonio chapter respectively.  She was also elected the first woman to preside as president of the Texas Municipal League.  Cockrell was a woman who defied odds and broke barriers for all women as she paved the way by being the city’s first woman mayor in 1975. Behind her would be the city’s first African American woman mayor Ivy Taylor in 2014.


Honoring 3 wonderful woman, the San Antonio Woman’s Chamber of Commerce’s Gala in 2018, included the ‘triple-feature’ special event honoring the best-of-the-best woman who have assisted in shaping the city of San Antonio over its 300-year 1718-2018 timeline.  Cockrell’s honest and genuine influence in shaping San Antonio put her at the top of the list sharing the ‘triple-feature’ with the great Saint and President Emeritus Artemisia Bowden and 1957 outstanding alumna The Honorable Nettie Hinton.  The San Antonio Woman’s Chamber of Commerce honored the late Cockrell stating:


“2014 honorary college alumna The Honorable Lila Cockrell, Mayor Emeritus, City of San Antonio is observing in 2018 the fifth anniversary of St. Philip’s College conferring an honorary degree to the Armed Forces Veteran in 2014, and the fifth anniversary of the popular long-term exhibition from The Lila Cockrell African American Art Collection in the Bowden Art Gallery of the G. J. Sutton Learning Center at St. Philip's College.”


These 3 women “reflect the inspiring breadth and depth of St. Philip’s College as the pillar of education in the city”. 


Cockrell accomplished so much in her long life.  Her legacy is cemented in her spirit and the work she has done which has paved the way for so many women. 


Rest in Heaven Mrs. Cockrell, San Antonio loves you too.



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