Nashville Leader Betty Nixon Remembered As 'Mother' Of Neighborhood Activism | Nashville Public Radio

Nashville Leader Betty Nixon Remembered As 'Mother' Of Neighborhood Activism

Aug 29, 2016

Nashville political figure Betty Nixon died Monday morning at age 80. She was a three-term Metro Council member and one of the *few women to run for mayor.

Nixon was known as a storyteller. She was a fierce advocate for the Belmont-Hillsboro neighborhood and a leader in historic preservation of the area. Metro Council member Burkley Allen says she inspired people in other parts of town to get more involved in city planning.

"She was kind of the first leader to organize a neighborhood group to fight some pretty big issues that were going on fairly effectively," Allen says. "She's spawned a whole group of very strong neighborhoods. I think she's kind of the mother of all that."

In 1991, Nixon ran for mayor against a much better financed Phil Bredesen and lost. But Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, who is the city's first woman elected mayor, says she paved the way and was "a great example for women who had never previously thought about running for public office."

Nixon's death comes in the same month as Jane Eskind, who was the first woman in Tennessee elected to statewide office, and Mary Frances Lyle, who was the lobbyist for the Nashville Women's Political Caucus for 25 years.

"I think we're kind of all overwhelmed with the responsibility that passes on to this new generation of women in leadership and in politics," Metro Council member Nancy VanReece says.

*This post has been revised. It originally said Nixon was Nashville's first woman to run for mayor. That is incorrect. Barbara Kurland ran in a crowded field 20 years prior in 1971. We regret the error.

WPLN's Tony Gonzalez contributed to this report.