Upon waking up and reading the morning newspaper, many Houstonians discovered Eleanor Tinsley, the first woman elected to an at-large City Council seat, died early Tuesday morning of natural causes. Funeral arrangements have not yet been released.
She was an eight-term veteran of the City Council and only left office in 1995 because of the city’s new term limit laws. Tinsley was elected in 1979 as the first female in citywide office.
Tinsley was known as an honest, hardworking woman. She pioneered the SPARK School Park program, which made use of already available school grounds around Houston and added features such as benches and trails for public use. The program also included local artistry.
Leonard Rejcek, the President and Chief Operations Officer of Manhattan Construction, remembers meeting Tinsley in the early 1980s when he worked with the company she contracted to install the park benches and trails that the SPARK program had put in local low-income schools around Houston.
‘She was a high-energy individual who had a lot of progressive ideas,’ Rejcek said. ‘Her SPARK program was innovative, economical and practical.’
Indeed, she was well ahead of her time when it comes to utilizing available space. She was known to be a pistol when it came to going after what she wanted. Aside from SPARK, Tinsley fought against the abundance of billboards in our city. She felt they negated the visual beauty of Houston.
As a 16-year City Council veteran, she remained true to the people of Houston by working to better their environment and was an active voice for them.
‘She enjoyed getting out there and meeting all of the people,’ Rejcek said.
Tinsley made her mark on Houston and has set a tough path to follow. She will be missed for her passion and dedication; our condolences are extended to her family.
Alana MousaviDin is a political science senior and may be reached at [email protected].