Frances T. Farenthold, Liberal Force in Texas and Beyond, Dies at 94

Frances T. Farenthold, Liberal Force in Texas and Beyond, Dies at 94

(The winner was Thomas F. Eagleton, who would step down as George S. McGovern’s running mate after it was learned that he had been treated for depression. He was replaced by R. Sargent Shriver Jr.)

Ms. Farenthold left electoral politics after her 1974 gubernatorial loss.

“What I discovered,” she told The Texas Observer in 2007, “was that political office was a life of constant moral compromise. And I didn’t enter politics with the purpose of compromising my morality.”

In 1976 she became the first woman to serve as president of Wells College, a small liberal-arts college, then for women only, in Aurora, N.Y. During her four-year tenure, she balanced its budget, expanded student recruitment and founded the Public Leadership Education Network, a national organization that prepares women for vital public-policy roles.

As if in fealty to her Texas roots, Ms. Farenthold also studied the feasibility of enriching Wells’s coffers by tapping the vast reserves of natural gas that lay beneath the campus. In late 1980, after she had left, Wells College heeded her recommendation: It drilled — and struck gas.

Returning to Texas, she practiced law in Houston and taught at the University of Houston and at Texas Southern University, a historically Black institution in the city.

In 1989, her youngest child, Jimmy, disappeared, at 33. Jimmy, who was Vincent’s identical twin, was said never to have gotten over his brother’s death; by the time he was a young man he was addicted to drugs and drifting around Texas. Despite extensive searches, he was never found and is presumed dead. (The family held a funeral for him in 2005.)

Ms. Farenthold’s marriage ended in divorce. She is survived by her son George Farenthold II, who said the cause of death was Parkinson’s disease; another son, Dudley; a daughter, Emilie C. Farenthold; a sister, Genevieve Hearon; three grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and a step-grandson, Blake, the son of Randy Farenthold. A younger brother, Dudley Tarlton, was killed in a helicopter crash in 2003.

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