Taft to honor former mayor

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Feb. 23—TAFT — Former Mayor Lelia Davis says she feels honored to see a hometown street named for her.

"Most of the time, you hear about it or read about it after someone is gone," she said. "For the Taft city council to think that much of me, it's an honor for them to want to pass a resolution."

The Taft Board of Trustees voted on Tuesday to rename Pine Street between Ottawa Street and Choctaw Street to Lelia Foley Davis Avenue.

The decision honors Davis, who is the first Black woman elected mayor in the United States. She was first elected in 1973. According to Wikipedia, her election predates the election of Mayor Doris A. Davis of Compton, California, later that year.

Vice Mayor Keith Titsworth, who recommended the honor, said Lelia Davis has given a lot to the area.

"When I was growing up, she was mayor," Titsworth said. "She had activities for the kids. She put her heart into this town. When I came on the board of trustees, I felt it was her time to be honored."

Mayor Vernon Curl said street signs with Davis' name will be made, and there will be a dedication ceremony "the day we put the sign up."

Davis first served from 1973 to the mid-1980s. She was elected mayor again in 2000. She now serves on the Board of Trustees.

She said she met with three presidents during her tenure as mayor.

She recalled being among 10 Outstanding Young Women who met with President Gerald Ford in 1974. Ford's golden retriever, Liberty, walked in on the ceremony, she said.

"Everybody was reaching down to pet the dog, and I reached around and said, 'President Ford, I'm Lelia Foley, mayor of Taft, Oklahoma, and I didn't come to Washington to talk to you about a dog.' I said, 'can we talk about some houses in Taft,'" she said. "That's how Taft got the 24 rural houses from the Ford administration."

She later met President Jimmy Carter when she was one of 50 mayors to lunch with him.

In 2011, she met President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at site of the 9/11 crash at the Pentagon. She said she accompanied former MHS teacher Effie Milam, whose son died in the attack.