Elida Tamez, 59, died Sunday night following a two-decade struggle against ovarian cancer.
Tamez was known for her extensive fundraising work during and after her time as development officer for the University of North Texas College of Music, as well as for her anti-fracking activism, which led to her arrest in 2015. Theron Palmer, her husband of nearly 20 years and a fellow activist, recalled the story fondly via phone Wednesday afternoon.
As he remembers it, his wife woke up one morning and decided she was going to oppose controversial fracking work taking place in Denton. Palmer drove her to the natural gas drilling site early so she could sit in the way of the machines.
“She was bald from chemotherapy, so she looked very haggard when the drilling trucks showed up for the morning work,” Palmer said. “She just sat there and wouldn’t let them through until the Denton police came.”
Despite her arrest, and $500 bail, Palmer said his wife was never charged with criminal trespass: “I don’t think they wanted to deal with a woman who needed chemotherapy the next day.”
When asked what picture he thought should accompany this article, Palmer didn’t take long to decide: “I think she would actually get a kick out of using the mugshot.”
He said Tamez died while undergoing hospice care, slipping into an unresponsive state for roughly the final 36 hours of her life.
After her 1999 cancer diagnosis, Tamez was given approximately three years to live. Palmer said they had 20 years to discuss the way she wanted to die.
“She died very peacefully in the manner that she wished to die,” Palmer said.
At least 10 people were in and out of the home during her final hours. He said family members agreed that Tamez will be remembered as the glue that held others together.
“She would bring the whole family together in common joy and get everybody involved in the same activities, doing the same things and being happy together,” Palmer said.
She is survived by her father, Rodolfo Tamez, and mother, Celia Tamez, siblings Sally Muncy, Lucy Creech and George Tamez, as well as children Celia Foster and Chloe Mallozzi.
Palmer said the family plans to hold a private ceremony to honor Tamez in Seagoville on Wednesday evening.