KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. — A female pioneer in Knox County politics died over the weekend at age 95.
Mary "Bee" DeSelm was first elected to public office in the mid-'70s and served almost two decades as one of the first women on the county commission.
Former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe knew her well and called DeSelm "independent" and "hard-working."
"She was one of those people who left their mark. She was there for the right reasons. Don't always agree with her but you knew she had thought it through, was honorable, and was not influenced by any special interests. Just by what she thought was best for the community," Ashe said.
The first woman elected mayor of Knoxville called Bee DeSelm a friend and a mentor.
Former mayor Madeline Rogero recognized Bee DeSelm as one-of-a-kind trailblazer, saying in part, "she always did what she knew to be right rather than what was politically expedient. She was a role model and outstanding public servant."
Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon said that Deselm was a mentor with a huge heart, in a post made on her Facebook page Tuesday morning. She also said that Deselm would be missed.
"She was a mentor to me — never wavering in her support over the last 15+ years," she said in the post. "One of my fondest memories was her supporting when I first ran for School Board in 2004. I will misser her encouragement and friendship."