A Legacy of Leaping Barriers

blogpic_ashleywI’m sure most of you have noticed that election season is right around the corner. Whether you love it or hate it, political talk and ads are beginning to fill the airwaves and soon we won’t be able to escape their reaches. A trending topic this week has been Hillary Clinton, who officially announced her run for presidency. The announcement of Hillary’s candidacy reminded me of a recent resident profile story I enjoyed working on for a client.

Betty Turner, 83, a resident at Mirador senior living community, has called Corpus Christi home since 1954. She has a long list of accomplishments, but her most cherished achievement was being elected the first female mayor of Corpus Christi, serving from 1987-2001. Previously, she had been the first female mayor pro tem, serving two terms from 1981-1985. Her political career saw many challenges, changes and victories, from politics to education to preserving the arts, but one thing is for sure–she helped open doors for women across the country.

Mrs. Turner was lucky to have a privileged upbringing and a family dedicated to education. Her paternal grandfather founded Barnes & Noble, now the largest retail bookseller in the United States and the leading retailer of content, digital media and educational products. She earned her BA at Vassar College and came to Texas to earn her Masters at Texas A&I University (now Texas A&M).


Betty Turner campaigning in the early 1980s.

Her rise to mayor took both hard work and dedication. Soon, she was named to the boards of multiple banks and hospitals and she was elected the first female CEO and President of the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce.

In 2003, Turner was elected to the prestigious 21-member national AARP board with oversight of its 35 million members. She has since gone on to serve as president and member of dozens of boards of nonprofit organizations, both locally and nationally, and has been recognized with many awards for her service to the city of Corpus Christi. In another true testament to her passion for serving, she was the first Anglo board member elected to the Corpus Christi Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. She is also a lifetime member of the NAACP.

Women like Betty Turner helped pave the way for future women in politics, and their legacy is worthy of celebrating. Whether you’re on the red, blue, conservative or liberal side, we all owe a debt to the political and social pioneers in our communities.

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