Civil rights

Civil rights pioneer Frances ‘Sissy’ Farenthold dies in Houston after battling Parkinson’s

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) – Houston buried a pioneer on Tuesday.

Frances “Sissy” Farenthold was a strong advocate for civil rights and women’s rights despite being born into privilege.

Farenthold died in her Houston apartment on Sunday after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease, her son, George Farenthold, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. She was six days away from her 95th birthday, he said.

Farenthold graduated from Vassar College and UT Law School, where she was one of the few women.

In 1968, she was elected to Texas House and was the only woman among 149.

She told AP in 2008 that she remembered shaking hands with a man the next day who said, “I voted for your husband yesterday,” and I said, “It was me. . He said, ‘If I had known that, I wouldn’t have done it.’ It was a descent! “

She was the only woman in the room, but rose to prominence as a member of the reformist “Dirty Thirty” House that kept the Sharpstown stock fraud scandal of 1971-72 alive as a political problem. involved the state’s main elected leaders, all conservative Democrats.

As a result, Farenthold defeated Governor Preston Smith and Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes, both among those involved, in the 1972 Democratic primary before losing in the second round to Dolph Briscoe, who was later elected governor.

That same year, Farenthold’s name was appointed vice-president at the Democratic National Convention by feminist activist Gloria Steinem. She arrived as George McGovern’s running mate.

At nearly 95 years old, friends of Farenthold said she was still fighting for women’s and minority rights, which they said she had learned from her father.

“I don’t know what his policy was, but I do know that he taught him to look to others, to be busy and to pay attention to problems,” Gayle DeGuerin said.

The legendary life of Farenthold is preserved at UT’s Rapaport Center. You can see it all by visiting their website.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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