By STEFAN MODRICH
Viola Randle, a lifelong Fort Bend County resident and the first African American to serve as mayor of Fulshear, died Sept. 16. She was 96.
Randle, who served as mayor from 1993-98, was known for being a constant presence at city events and served on many committees and in local organizations, such as the Fulshear Historic Commission.
“She was a lifelong Fort Bend resident, mayor, community leader, small business owner and community activist to this day,” Fort Bend County Judge KP George wrote on Twitter. “Please join me in praying for the Randle family.”
U.S. Rep. Pete Olson, who represents much of Fort Bend County in Texas’ 22nd Congressional District, also offered condolences to Randle and her family.
“Nancy and I were deeply sad to hear about the passing of former Fulshear Mayor Viola Randle,” Olson tweeted. “Our prayers are with her family and the Fulshear community. She was a Fulshear icon and her legacy will forever stand the test of time in #TX22.”
Randle was instrumental in helping Fulshear incorporate in 1977. She grew up in a family of sharecroppers, picking cotton and growing vegetables, and went on to manage several businesses, including a Texaco gas station.
An outpouring of support and remembrances of the late Randle’s legacy could be found on various social media platforms after her passing.
“She was a living history book of Fulshear,” Terry Nestor wrote on Facebook. “Imagine the changes she has seen in our little country town. May she rest In peace.”
Former Fulshear mayor Tommy Kuykendall, who served from 2010-16, said he was grateful for Randle’s wisdom.
“She kept a close watch on the direction of the city and how any new ordinances and plans affected our original downtown area where she lived,” Kuykendall wrote on Facebook. “I valued our conversations and listened carefully to her advice.”
Susan Strickland of the Fulshear Historical Commission helped to place the significance of Randle’s long and eventful life as a public servant and community leader in context.
Randle is widely credited for providing a launch pad for the population growth that her successors saw. During her tenure, the Fulshear population was 600, and it has since exploded. In 2019, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated Fulshear’s population was 13,914.
“To all of those who knew and admired her, she has left an indelible imprint on our lives and on our community,” Strickland wrote on Facebook. “Comprising major economic and historical milestones that bear her signature, Viola Randle’s life provides a snapshot of a segregated Texas town that overcame racial conventions for the benefit of all who live here. Her story also bears the unique stamp of how one woman can make a difference for her race and for her community.”