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Former OKC Mayor Patience Latting lies in repose at city hall Thursday

Unprecedented memorial reflects the pioneer spirit of Patience Latting, the first woman to sit on the city council and the first elected mayor of a major U.S. city, her children said.
BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD Published: January 3, 2013

Even in death, Patience Latting is proving a pioneer in Oklahoma City government.

On Thursday, the former mayor became the first to lie in repose at city hall.

Surrounded by friends, family and an honor guard of fire and police department personnel, Latting's casket stood on display in the middle of the building's entry-level foyer. Groups of people gathered, spending time remembering her.

“Your mother is such an inspiration to so many people,” city Councilman David Greenwell told the three Latting children in attendance. “It's a good thing her name was Patience because it would take a lot of patience to do that.”

Greenwell's condolences to the former mayor's children were reflective of what people had to say as they stopped in on Thursday: Latting's bold service in a man's world of city politics was an important shift in the city's history.

“We all stand on the shoulders of those who came before us, and she was a pretty impressive person,” said Mayor Mick Cornett. “This morning I heard the new Congress has 20 women senators, and in a certain way, she was at the forefront of that. I never heard her specifically champion those causes, but she was certainly a role model.”

Latting was 94 when she died Saturday. Elected to the city council in 1967 and then as mayor from 1971-1983, she is considered the first woman elected to serve a major U.S. city.

Her son, Jim Latting, attributed her years of success as a public servant and volunteer in the city to her diligence.

He said a story shared earlier in the day by her former co-worker was typical of most people's experiences with his mother.

“She said after the council meeting Mom would read every single page of every document, and she would point at one typo in the middle of the page and refuse to sign it until it was corrected,” he said, laughing.

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