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Lila Cockrell, first woman to serve as San Antonio mayor, dies at 97

'She was a great San Antonian,' Mayor Ron Nirenberg said.

SAN ANTONIO – Former San Antonio Mayor Lila Cockrell died on Thursday at age 97.

"If there were a Mount Rushmore for our city, Lila Cockrell would be on it," said Mayor Ron Nirenberg in a statement.

Cockrell was the first woman to serve as the city's mayor, when she was sworn into office in 1975 after serving on San Antonio City Council for a decade. She served as mayor until 1981. She also served as mayor from 1989 to 1991.

READ MORE: Tributes pour in for former San Antonio Mayor Lila Cockrell

Cockrell launched Hemisfair '68, when the World's Fair came to San Antonio.

She was inducted into the Texas Woman's Hall of Fame in 1984.

Cockrell served as the president of the San Antonio Parks Foundation from 1998 until she retired in 2013.

"I'm looking at what I'm going to be doing," Cockrell said at age 90. "I'm not going to be sitting in a rocking chair, I can tell you that."

RELATED: Henry Cisneros to deliver 'difficult' eulogy for former San Antonio Mayor Lila Cockrell

The Lila Cockrell Theatre in downtown along the San Antonio River is named in her honor.

Memorial services have not yet been announced.

Related: Flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of former Mayor Lila Cockrell

Her cause of death is yet to be publicized.

More from Nirenberg:

"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."

READ MORE: Lila Cockrell shares advice with Mayor Taylor

"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."


About the Authors:

Kolten Parker

Before starting at KSAT in July 2019, Kolten was the digital editor at the Texas Observer magazine in Austin. Before that he was digital news editor at the San Antonio Express-News. Kolten graduated from Texas State University with a bachelor's degree in journalism and has also reported on politics at the Texas Legislature.

Julie Moreno

Julie Moreno has worked in local television news for more than 20 years. She came to KSAT as a news producer in 2000. After producing thousands of newscasts, she transitioned to the digital team in 2015. She writes on a wide-variety of topics from breaking news to trending stories and manages KSAT’s social media strategy.