In Memoriam: Frances Tarlton Farenthold, 1926-2021

Frances Tarlton “Sissy” Farenthold, the former president of Wells College in Aurora, New York, died on September 26 at her home in Houston, Texas. She was 94 years old and had suffered from Parkinson’s disease.

A native of Corpus Christi, Texas, Farenthold graduated from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, at the age of 19. She then earned a juris doctorate at the University of Texas at the age of 22.

After practicing law and raising five children, Farenthold was persuaded to enter the political arena. She won a seat in the Texas House of Representatives and when she took office was the only woman in the 150-seat assembly. In 1972 she ran unsuccessfully for governor of Texas and was nominated for vice president at the Democratic National Convention.

In 1973, Farenthold became the first chair of the bipartisan National Women’s Political Caucus, whose mission was to recruit women for public office. She was appointed president of Wells College in 1976. At that time, Wells College did not admit men.

In 1980, Farenthold returned to Houston and joined movements against South African apartheid and nuclear proliferation. She taught at the law schools at Texas Southern University and the University of Houston.

Filed Under: In Memoriam


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