Former Missouri state lawmaker and educator Yvonne S. Wilson died Monday. The 90-year-old Democrat from Kansas City was remembered by many as a community advocate, especially for children.
Democratic State Sen. Kiki Curls confirmed Wilson’s death to KCUR, and called Wilson a friend and mentor.
“She became my mom away from home in Jefferson City when I first came to Jefferson City. She was an awesome mentor about legislative issues and social issues and other personal things there so I was very close to her,” said Curls, who represents the Senate district that Wilson did from 2004-2010.
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Wilson spent 35 years as a teacher, consultant, principal and Director of Elementary Education in the Kansas City School District before beginning her political career. She served in the Missouri House from 1999-2002 before winning a Senate seat in 2004.
Wilson was deeply involved in the Kansas City community, serving on boards for many local organizations, including the City of Fountains Foundation, Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Heritage Center and Museum Foundation, as well as lending time to the Sister Cities Commission, Missouri Legislative Black Caucus and Missouri Legislative Women’s Caucus, among other things.
Curls noted that Wilson was “very much a person that was very involved in the community,” adding: “She was a member of Freedom Inc. when she ran for office, she was the Democratic committeewoman for many, many years in the 16th Ward. So she really was a public servant and believed in service to the community for youth and for African-American women.”
Jackson County Democratic Committee Executive Director Geoff Gerling said the death of Wilson is a loss to the community.
“Senator Wilson was a very strong advocate for her community,” Gerling said. “She was both a personal friend and a true friend to everyone in the Jackson County Democrats.”
On Twitter, U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver called Wilson “an unflinching advocate for children and families throughout her career,” and that her passing is a profound loss for Kansas City and Missouri.
Wilson was the first black woman to serve as president of the Missouri Association of Elementary School Principals and served two terms as president of the Lincoln University Board of Curators. She was inducted in to the UMKC’s Starr Women’s Hall of Fame in 2017.
Michelle Tyrene Johnson is a reporter at KCUR 89.3 and part of the public radio collaborative Sharing America, covering the intersection of race, identity and culture. This initiative, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, includes reporters in Kansas City, St. Louis, Hartford, Connecticut and Portland, Oregon. She can be contacted at [email protected]
(Kansas News Service)