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Granddaughter of 1st Black, female mayor of Orange remembers the legacy of Essie Bellfield

The former mayor's funeral will be held at Salem United Methodist Church on Saturday, February 5.

ORANGE, Texas — Friends and family are pausing to remember a true trailblazer, Essie Bellfield.

She was elected as the first Black mayor of Orange in 1997. To this day, she's been the city's only female mayor. Bellfield died Sunday at the age of 90.

“She was the force to be reckoned with,” said Kamilah Woodrow, Bellfield's granddaughter.

Former Orange County Mayor Bellfield was a woman who lived for two things: Education and civil rights.

“Her whole life I could just remember: Vote for Bellfield. Vote for Belfield. We campaigned as small children for many years, little bitty, five or six years old,” Woodrow said.

Growing, up she remembers everything her grandmother did.

“She was a bondsman. She was Justice of the Peace. Obviously, you know, she was the first black female mayor and the only female mayor of Orange,” Woodrow said.

Many titles that fostered lifelong relationships.

“If I call someone close to Orange, Houston, Louisiana, and I say something like ‘Oh my grandmother. She lives in Orange. And so what was the name,’ and I’ll say, ‘Miss B?’ I always say ‘oh, yes, Miss Bellfield.’ I mean often,” Woodrow said.

Bellfield's 90 years on earth were dedicated to making a difference within her community.

“She was in a position where she could make a change, and she made that change,” Woodrow said. “And there were people behind her that were not in the position to make the change but needed to change and so she was able to do that.”

Bellfield's contributions lead to having her name stamped on buildings around Orange.

“I'm only familiar with the community center that they had named after her. I know that there was also a church wing that was named after her,” Woodrow said.

Woodrow said she wants her grandmother to be remembered as the legend she was.

“I want her to be remembered as someone of respect and someone that fought for everyone else,” Woodrow said.

Bellfield's funeral will be held at Salem United Methodist Church on Saturday, February 5. It's located at 402 W John Ave in Orange.

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