PHOENIX, ARIZONA: Thelda Marie Williams, a prominent figure in Phoenix politics who served several terms as the city’s mayor and was a member of the City Council for more than two decades, has died at the age of 82 after a battle with cancer.
Williams holds the unique distinction of being the only individual to have held the city’s highest office three times. His tenure on the city council lasted more than two decades.
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According to the current mayor, Kate Gallego, Williams died on the night of Tuesday, November 14. She was born on June 30, 1941.
Thelda Williams ‘cared deeply about the people of Phoenix’
“Thelda Williams’ service to our city has touched and improved the lives of everyone who lives here, from improving Sky Harbor International Airport to strengthening our transit system to ensuring that we use our water wisely,” said Mayor Kate Gallego.
“She cared deeply about the people of Phoenix and its future, and her legacy will endure far beyond our lifetimes. We mourn her loss and her extended city family extends our deepest condolences to her beloved family. ” she added, according to ABC. 15.
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Mandate of Thelda Williams
Williams began her term on the city council in 1989. After a hiatus, she returned to the council in 2007 and served until 2021, when her third consecutive term ended. Following the resignations of Mayors Paul Johnson, Terry Goddard and Greg Stanton, Williams was chosen by her city council colleagues to serve as interim mayor.
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In honor of the former Phoenix mayor, flags at all city facilities will fly at half-staff until sunset Tuesday.
Williams leaves behind a son and a daughter, as well as three grandsons. She was predeceased by her husband, Mel, who was a former Phoenix police officer, and her daughter, Chris.
Tributes pour in for Thelda Williams
“Thelda Williams was a dear friend and colleague,” said Councilwoman Debra Stark, who served with Williams.
“I am deeply saddened by her passing, as she impacted so many lives, as well as my own. She was an ally to the Council, but also a force to be reckoned with. I am comforted to know that she lived a full and accomplished life. We owe a debt of gratitude to Thelda for her many years of public service and contributions to the City of Phoenix. We will miss Thelda so much.
“Thelda Williams leaves behind a legacy for all of Phoenix that cannot be overshadowed,” added Councilwoman Ann O’Brien, who succeeded Williams on the City Council.
“She was a role model, a mentor, a Jeopardy question, the only person to serve as mayor three times, and a friend. She will be greatly missed and leaves behind a pair of shoes that cannot be filled. District 1 and the “All of Phoenix has grown exponentially under Thelda’s leadership. We would not be where we are today as a city without Thelda’s service,” she added.
Before Wednesday’s agenda began, a hush fell over the Phoenix City Council chambers.
Stephen Wamsley, a retired Phoenix police sergeant who had a close relationship with the Williams family, shared, “She’s with her husband. That’s where she wants to be.”
“They were a true service family,” Wamsley said. “That’s what they did. They served the city of Phoenix from start to finish. And his passing is like the closing of a chapter.”
Williams was deeply passionate about improving the city’s public transportation system. In recognition of his efforts, a new transit center at Metrocenter would be named in his honor this Friday.
The Phoenix Police Department posted a heartfelt tribute on Facebook, writing, “We are saddened to learn of the passing of former Phoenix Mayor and Council Member Thelda Williams.”
“Ms. Williams was a strong supporter of #PhoenixPD and left a legacy within our department through her husband and son. Thank you for your service,” the PD added.
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