Virginia NOW celebrates the life of Senator Patsy Ticer.
Among her many contributions, Patsy was first senator to introduce and pass the Equal Rights Amendment in Virginia.
August 7th, 2017
Patricia S. “Patsy” Ticer, a liberal Democrat who served as the first elected female mayor of Alexandria, Va., and later spent four terms in the Virginia state Senate championing health, social services and environmental concerns, died Aug. 7 at a hospital in Alexandria. She was 82.
The cause was complications from a fall, said a daughter, Margaret Janowsky.
Mrs. Ticer, who was the wife of a former Alexandria City Council member, John “Jack” Ticer, was a neighborhood activist, hospital volunteer and real estate agent before she moved into electoral politics. She served three terms on the City Council in the 1980s, making early childhood development, education and affordable housing her priorities.
She was regarded as a consensus builder — “power,” she once said, “is being able to get things done without having to raise your voice.”
She was serving as vice mayor under James P. Moran Jr. when he won a seat in Congress in 1990. Mrs. Ticer ran to succeed him as mayor, beating Republican Ann Stone, a marketing and political consultant.
A year into the job, she withstood pressure by then-Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder (D) and Washington Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke to build a new stadium for the team in Alexandria’s Potomac Yard. Some Alexandrians were against the proposal, chiefly because of parking and traffic concerns. Others said it was a giveaway to the sports franchise at the expense of taxpayers.
Mrs. Ticer was elected to the state Senate in 1995, unseating moderate Republican Robert L. Calhoun in a district that included parts of Arlington and Fairfax counties as well as Alexandria. She supported Chesapeake Bay cleanup efforts and chaired the Senate’s Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee.
She did not seek reelection to a fifth term in 2011.
“She could have had a very comfortable life but chose the messy world of politics,” Moran said. “She was always able to be a political leader without really treating anyone badly nor compromising her integrity.”
Patricia Keyser Smith was born in Washington on Jan. 6, 1935, and grew up in Alexandria. She graduated in 1951 from George Washington High School and in 1955 from Sweet Briar College, an all-women’s college in Virginia, with a bachelor’s degree in political science.
In 1956, she married Jack Ticer. She became a block captain in civic associations, participated in several PTAs and local charitable and civic groups, and helped form the Alexandria Commission for the Arts. She said her husband urged her to run for the council in 1982. He died in 2007.
Besides Janowsky, of Alexandria, survivors include three other children, John T. Ticer Jr. of Vienna, Va., Catherine Ticer of San Jose and Virginia Baechler of Alexandria; and five grandchildren.
"Power is being able to get things done without having to raise your voice." —Patsy Ticer