Lila Cockrell: Inspiring Leader, Entertainer, and Genuine Friend

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From left, Lila Cockrell and Rosemary Kowalski.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Former Mayor Lila Cockrell (left) and local business woman Rosemary Kowalski honored during St. Mary's University's 165th annual Spring Commencement in May 2017.

My relationship with Lila Cockrell did not truly begin until after she was mayor and Catering by Rosemary became the official caterer for the Henry B. González Convention Center in 1967. 

Of course, I knew of her during her terms, but our bond of friendship did not develop until years later. Lila was a strong female presence in a sea of male counterparts and she thrived. I admired her ability to lead our city with intention, tolerance, and foresight. She worked hard and made significant positive change as one of the most influential and remembered women in San Antonio history.

We were both entertainers – Lila being the social entertainer, and I the caterer. We were working in the same circles accommodating celebrities, dignitaries, and even royalty. This was the nature of our friendship for years until the late 1980s. We were always fond of one another, making jokes and poking fun. I remember we would sit together and just laugh and laugh until our faces and bellies hurt. She was one of my greatest “feel good” friends.

We have been interviewed together on several occasions and even graduated together in 2017 with our honorary Ph.D.s from St. Mary’s University. I consider myself blessed to have grown up in the company of such an influential, and genuine friend like Lila Cockrell.

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