Governor Richards Was a Friend To East Texas

Former Nacogdoches commissioner and mayor Judy McDonald first met Ann Richards when Richards was a Travis County Commissioner. They were both juggling homemaking duties with politics. Back in those days any woman in Texas politics stuck together. McDonald recalled, "We formed this group called Texas Association of Elected Women and there were about as many of us as letters in that title."

Once elected governor Richards appointed McDonald to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs. East Texas had representation. Board appointments were routinely reserved for men from large cities. But what McDonald liked most about this former school teacher was she was the people's governor. "She had a great wit, but she also had a great heart for the people of Texas. You can be a good person and you can be a good politician, but Ann Richards had the heart to go with it,"reflected McDonald.

Former Nacogdoches mayor A.L. Mangham was appointed by Richards as chair of the Texas Racing Commission. At the time, pari-mutuel wagering was just beginning. Mangham never thought of himself as the one for the job until he met with Richards. "Ann Richards was a motivator. When she got through explaining it to me it was number one on my agenda," said Mangham.

But what does Mangham remember most about his friend.   "She was so funny. She was so funny," he said smiling. That stands out because he was roasted by the quick witted woman. A city airport with no runway lights at the time provided her material. Richards said that night,  "I flew in tonight to the A.L. Mangham Intergalactic airport. I could see why they named it after A.L. It's big enough for a day's work, but it's not worth a damn after dark." "If she thought it, she said it," said Mangham.

Former Lufkin mayor Louis Bronaugh met with Richards often during her frequent trips to the area. The two even marched down first street many years ago in downtown Lufkin. Bronaugh knew Richards for 16 years. He remembers her as a Southern Belle with a good heart.   "She was a very popular, ideal Texas lady. She tells the way it was and very sharp, quick witted, great sense of humor and a beautiful lady, said Bronaugh.   Bronaugh met Richards not long after she became governor of Texas. She was elected the state's leader two years after he became mayor of Lukfin.