Ruth Jones McClendon, a former state representative who represented Bexar County for 20 years in the Texas House of Representatives and previously served as a San Antonio City Councilwoman, died Tuesday.
McClendon, 74, was perhaps best known locally for representing San Antonio’s East Side throughout her career.
She resigned from the Texas House in 2016 after battling cancer and other health issues for years, but not before spearheading a bill with bipartisan support during her last session establishing a state panel to study wrongful convictions in Texas.
During her time in the House, she focused on improving education and fighting for healthcare for children, the frail and elderly, and authored over 400 bills and 550 resolutions from 1996 to 2015. She received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Capitol Inside, and made Texas Monthly’s list of Best Legislators of 2015, in which TM staff described her bipartisan power saying, “Whenever McClendon brought bills to the floor, Democrats and Republicans alike surrounded her in a show of support.”
Prior to her legislative career, McClendon served as a San Antonio City Councilwoman for District 2 and mayor pro tem from 1993 until 1996, when she was elected for statewide office.
"She wielded power gently but effectively. McClendon was a statewide force on transportation while also working to address the needs of the state's poorest citizens," Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in a statement. "San Antonio is a better city because of her work as a member of City Council and in the Texas House. She will be greatly missed."
In the biography on her personal website, McClendon lists her greatest accomplishments as “being a mother, having a rewarding family life in the midst of the rigors of public service and being able to serve her community as a state representative.”
"Her legacy of public service continues to inspire us to work for causes she championed, including access to healthcare and helping all students fulfill their God-given potential," Congressman Lloyd Doggett said in a statement.