San Antonio’s first woman mayor, Lila Cockrell, dies at 97

Lila Cockrell, San Antonio’s first woman mayor, has passed away.

Cockrell was elected in 1975 to the first of four two-year terms as Mayor of San Antonio. She is also the first woman in the United States to be elected mayor of a major metropolis.

During World War II she served in the WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) branch of the United States Navy.

She and her husband Sidney Earl Cockrell, Jr. moved to San Antonio in 1956. This is when Cockrell began her political career serving as President of the Dallas, and San Antonio chapters of the League of Women Voters during the 1950s.

Cockrell was reportedly turned away from voting in the San Antonio Mayoral race runoff election after she arrived without proper identification.

Bexar County elections administrator Jacque Callanen said that the officials working recognized Cockrell but had to follow the law when the former mayor did not present identification.

Lila Cockrell also served a total of nine years as a San Antonio City Councilwoman from 1963-1970 and 1973-1975.

Cockrell was a very influential figure in San Antonio, helping to organize Hemisfair ’68. She brought Valero Energy’s headquarters to San Antonio.

After retiring from office, she continued serving on a number of municipal commissions and was president of the San Antonio Parks Foundation for many years.