Former Phoenix mayor Thelda Williams dies after brief bout with cancer

Williams served as interim mayor throughout her career
Thelda Williams served on the Phoenix City Council started in 1989, was interim mayor, as well...
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 11:20 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — Former Mayor and Phoenix City Council member Thelda Williams has died at the age of 82 Tuesday night. Williams had been battling cancer.

“Thelda Williams’s 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 making sure that we use our water wisely,” Mayor Kate Gallego said. “She cared deeply about Phoenix’s people and its future, and her legacy will endure far beyond our lifetimes. We mourn her loss, and her large City family extends our heartfelt condolences to her family who she treasured so much.”

The mayor’s office says it will lower flags to honor the late former mayor from Wednesday through next Tuesday at sunset.

“Thelda Williams was a dear friend and colleague,” Councilwoman Debra Stark, who served with Williams, said. “I am deeply saddened about her passing, as she impacted so many lives, as well as my own. She was an ally on the Council, but also a force to be reckoned with. I take solace in knowing 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. Thelda will be so missed.”

U.S. Representative Greg Stanton said Williams was a rock in the community and will be missed.

Williams first served on the City Council in 1989. She was selected to serve as interim mayor in 1994 following the resignation of Paul Johnson, who decided to run for Arizona governor. She didn’t run for mayor during that year’s special election, opting instead to stay with her City Council position. However, she did run for Phoenix mayor in 1995 but lost the election and couldn’t return to her City Council seat, as she didn’t seek re-election for it.

After being elected back to the council in 2007, she once again served as interim mayor after Greg Stanton resigned to run for U.S. Congress. She has also served as vice mayor throughout her career.

Williams leaves behind her son Murry, daughter Cyndi and three grandsons: Matt Smith, a Phoenix police officer, and Ben and John Williams. Her husband passed previously passed away along with her daughter, Chris.

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