Former Warner Robins mayor and council member Henrietta McIntyre died Monday. She was 91.
City Attorney Jim Elliott said McIntyre had been ill for several weeks and died at home under hospice care.
In 1974, she and another woman became the first female council members elected in Warner Robins. She would go on to serve 21 years, including a one-year stint as mayor.
She became the city’s first and only female mayor in 1993. The council appointed her to serve as interim mayor after the previous mayor was forced out of office over a scandal.
Councilwoman Carolyn Robbins worked for the city when McIntyre was in office.
“She was a very dedicated council member and mayor during a time when we needed her,” Robbins said. “Henrietta was just a very kind, loving person and loved our city.”
After she left office, McIntyre continued to regularly attend council meetings until recently. When she was particularly upset, she would shake her cane at the council.
She last attended a council meeting earlier this year with assistance from a caretaker.
In 2012, she became an inaugural member of the Warner Robins Hall of Fame.
In an interview with The Telegraph that year, she said she came to Warner Robins in 1944 on an open bus, which she described as “a cattle car.” She had come to be with her two sisters, who had taken jobs at Robins Air Field, later to be called Robins Air Force Base.
“It was hardly a city when I got here and — this is mean to say — I hated it,” she said. “I cried the first week here.”
But when many base workers left after World War II ended in 1945, McIntyre stayed.
She said that the massive 1953 tornado that tore through Warner Robins united the city. She was working for the telephone company on Commercial Circle when the twister struck.
“It was chaos, just chaos,” she said. “Nobody knew what to do, but we were all trying to help each other ... that really is when people drew together and it started feeling like a community. We’ve grown a lot and maybe it’s not as evident, but still, when people get in trouble in Warner Robins, their neighbors are there for them.”
On serving as the first female council member along with the other woman elected that year, she said “I think we brought a dignity and the men acted a little nicer. But I never shirked my job because I was a woman. If I needed to put on blue jeans and go look at a ditch, I did it.”
In her last interview with the Telegraph a year ago, she talked about being at the council meeting in 2011 when a majority of members voted not to renew Elliott’s contract. The council later reversed that decision after public outcry.
“That’s as mad as I have ever been in my life,” she said. “I was so mad, I was spitting fire.”
Elliott said McIntyre continued to have an impact on the community long after she left office.
She served on the building committee of Sacred Heart Catholic Church near Commercial Circle. A few years ago the church was looking to construct a new building elsewhere, but McIntyre successfully lobbied for it to stay in the same area. Elliott said she believed it was too important to that part of town to move. Now the church is building a large new school on the same property.
Elliott also said she remained an influential voice in city politics.
“When there was an election of any sort, she got tons of phone calls from people,” Elliott said. “Her endorsement was highly sought after. Her putting up a candidate sign in her yard, that was a big deal to her. She didn’t take that lightly, and it was quite an endorsement.”
She was a founding member of the Pilot Club and was involved in many other service organizations and community activities.
McCullough Funeral Home has charge of arrangements. Visitation is set for Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. and the funeral will be at 11 a.m. Thursday at Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
The family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the Sacred Heart Church Building Fund, 251 South Davis Dr., Warner Robins, Ga. 31088.