ST. LOUIS – Former Missouri State Representative Betty Thompson has died.
A cause of death was not made public as of Sunday evening. Thompson was 81.
In 1980, she became the first African-American elected to the University City City Council. Thompson stayed on the council for 18 years until she won a special election to become a state representative for Missouri’s 72nd Congressional District, covering University City, Wellston, and Pagedale.
Thompson served three terms in office and opted not to run again in 2004. She was succeeded in Jan. 2005 by Maria Chappelle-Nadal.
During a 2012 interview with her granddaughter at Webster University, Thompson said she was arrested in Washington, D.C. in 1988 for protesting against South Africa’s apartheid government.
Thompson was born in Mississippi in 1939. She was one of 13 children. Her family moved to St. Louis when Betty was just 3 months old. She grew up in the Carr Square Village and Pruitt-Igoe housing developments.
Thompson graduated from Sumner High School in 1958. Betty Thompson attended Harris-Stowe State University and went on to receive a certificate in management from Washington University.
Former U.S. Congressman William “Lacy” Clay issued the following statement late Sunday evening:
Tonight, I am sending my deepest condolences to the family of my great friend, former State Representative Betty Thompson (D) University City. Betty always stood with me in the fight for jobs, education, healthcare, and voting rights. As she often reminded us… ‘Stand Up, Show Up and Vote Up.’ Her legacy will endure for generations to come. Rest In Power.