Betty Andujar

Elizabeth Richards "Betty" Andujar
Texas State Senator from District 12 (Tarrant County)
In office
Preceded by J. P. Word
Succeeded by Hugh Parmer
Texas Senate President Pro Tempore
In office
Preceded by H. Tati Santiesteban
Succeeded by Don Adams
Personal details
Born (1912-11-06)November 6, 1912
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA
Died June 8, 1997(1997-06-08) (aged 84)
Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Texas
Resting place Texas State Cemetery
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) John Jose Andujar (married 1935-1997, her death)
Residence Fort Worth, Texas
Alma mater Wilson College
Occupation Homemaker
Religion Presbyterian

Elizabeth Richards Andujar, known as Betty Andujar (November 6, 1912 June 8, 1997),[1] was a homemaker, civic activist, and politician, the first Republican woman to be elected and serve in the Texas State Senate. From 1973 to 1983, Andujar represented District 12 in Fort Worth, the seat of Tarrant County in North Texas.

She was the first Republican elected from Tarrant County to the state legislature since the Reconstruction era, signaling a change in alignment of Texas politics. At the turn of the century, the white Democrat-dominated legislature had disenfranchised most African Americans and Latinos.[2][3] This weakened the Republican Party for decades; and the Democratic Party dominated. Since the late 20th century the Republican Party has revived in Texas, starting with appeal to white conservatives, who still comprise the majority of the party.

Early years

Elizabeth Richards was born in 1912 in the state capital of Harrisburg in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. Her parents were Katharine L. Beetem[4] and Karl E. Richards.[4] Her father was an attorney, who worked as First Assistant to the county District Attorney. He became District Attorney in 1932, serving until 1937, when he was elected as Dauphin County's first Orphan's Court judge. He served as judge of this court until 1961.[5] (According to information supplied by Andujar's family to the Texas State Cemetery, her father had served as the state's chief justice.[6]) Elizabeth Richards attended local schools and received a bachelor's degree from the Wilson College, a Presbyterian women's institution, in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, just north of the Maryland state line.

In 1935, Richards married John José Andujar (26 January 1912–2003),[1] a young physician. Born in Chicago to an American mother and Spanish father, he had lived for years with his family in Puerto Rico.[7] His mother Lily Esther Kurzenknabe was German-American, born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and his father Manuel Andujar y Agrelo was born in Galacia, Spain. (One record of John's birth lists him as Canadian;[7] perhaps his father had first gained citizenship there.) John Andujar was a United States citizen by virtue of birth and his mother's nationality. John was the third of four children. His father was a minister. According to the 1920 census, his family had moved to Puerto Rico and was living in Puerta De Tierra, San Juan.[8] John Andujar earned a degree at Penn State Commonwealth College and received a M.D. from Temple Commonwealth University. He specialized in pathology at Cornell University and Sloan-Kettering.

Elizabeth and John Andujar moved to Fort Worth in 1937.[9] He worked as chief pathologist at Carswell Air Force Base and the Navy's Federal Hospital near Fort Worth before becoming the chief pathologist at Harris Hospital, where he directed the laboratory.[10] He became a world leader in pathology, president of the American Board of Pathologists and the first American president of the World Association Society of Pathologists.[10] In 1969 he received the Gold-Headed Cane Award from the Tarrant County Medical Society.[11]

Civic life

Betty Andujar became active in the auxiliaries of the Texas state and Tarrant County medical associations. She later served on the boards of the Medical College of Pennsylvania and the Texas Rape Prevention and Control Project. She was also active in the Association for the Prevention of Blindness and the American Cancer Society.[6]

Political career

When Andujar decided to get more involved in politics, she joined the Republican Party. It had been rebuilding in Texas after weakness in the early decades of the 20th century following state disenfranchisement of minorities. She was elected in 1972 as the first Republican to represent Tarrant County in the state legislature since Reconstruction.[6] African Americans, who comprised the majority of the Republican Party in Texas in the 19th century, and many Hispanics were disenfranchised by laws passed by the white-Democratic dominated state legislature at the turn of the 20th century, which required payment of poll taxes and established white primaries, excluding minorities.[2][3] Andujar's election was a sign of the changing demographics of the Republican Party as it was appealing to white conservatives in Texas and across the South in the mid to late 20th century.

Andujar was a delegate to both the 1972 and 1976 Republican National Conventions in Miami Beach, and Kansas City, Missouri, respectively. In the latter, she was part of the 100-member delegation from Texas, all of whom were committed to the challenge for the nomination waged by Governor Ronald W. Reagan to sitting U.S. President Gerald R. Ford, Jr. It was unsuccessful but Reagan later gained the Republican nomination and presidency.

Andujar was an early Reagan backer, in contrast to U.S. Senator John G. Tower, who led the Ford forces in the state. The Texas campaign for Reagan in the primary was led by co-chairmen Ernest Angelo of Midland, Ray Barnhart of Pasadena, and Barbara Staff of Dallas.[12] In 1976, Andujar was elected as a Texas Republican national committeewoman, serving as a member of the Republican National Convention through 1982.[9] [13]

In 1977, during the 65th legislative session, Andujar was among four senators chosen to serve as the President Pro Tempore, the first Republican so honored by the chamber. The designation made her "acting governor" whenever both Governor Dolph Briscoe and Lieutenant Governor Bill Hobby were out of state.[6] In the 1979 session, Texas Monthly magazine ranked Andujar as among the "Ten Worst Legislators."[14]

Although a conservative in the Republican Party, Andujar in 1973 introduced a bill to remove prison terms for conviction of the possession of marijuana, claiming that it should be treated as a substance comparable to alcohol and regulated.[15] The bill did not pass but she was ahead of her time: in the 21st century, this has become an increasingly popular view among law enforcement, physicians and many citizens. Some states have legalized marijuana use for medical use, while others have also legalized it for recreational use, to be regulated like alcohol.

Andujar worked in the legislature to have the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine incorporated into the University of North Texas Health Science Center. She introduced legislation requiring county coroners to be qualified pathologists. In keeping with her civic work on treatment for blindness, she sponsored bills to allow physicians in Texas to remove corneas to transplant to new patients for sight restoration. She also supported bills to assist women in the collection of child support.[6]

Due to health issues, Andujar did not run for re-election in 1982. That year her husband Dr. John (Andy) Andujar ran for her seat in the State Senate. Texas Democrats swept all statewide offices, and Andujar was defeated by Hugh Q. Parmer, well known as former mayor of Fort Worth. He held the seat until 1991.[16]

Legacy and honors


Betty Andujar died on June 8, 1997 and was survived by her husband. As a state senator, she was interred at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin. The widower later married Mary Parker.[10] After his death in August 2003, he was buried by his request next to his first wife at the Texas State Cemetery.[6]


  1. 1 2 "Social Security Death Index". Retrieved September 10, 2011.
  2. 1 2 "Nixon v. Condon. Disfranchisement of the Negro in Texas", The Yale Law Journal, Vol. 41, No. 8, June 1932, p. 1212, accessed March 21, 2008
  3. 1 2 Texas Politics: Historical Barriers to Voting, accessed April 11, 2008 Archived April 2, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. 1 2 "Elizabeth Richards Andujar", U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,, accessed 5 May 2016
  5. Dauphin County District Attorney's Office, Pennsylvania, accessed 5 May 2016
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Elizabeth Richards Andujar". Retrieved September 10, 2011.
  7. 1 2 "John Andujar", Cook County, Illinois, Birth Certificates Index, 1871-1922, at, accessed 5 May 2016
  8. "John Andujar Y Kuryentruabe (Kurzenknabe)", 1920 United States Federal Census,, accessed 5 May 2016
  9. 1 2 "Betty Andujar" (PDF). Retrieved September 10, 2011.
  10. 1 2 3 "John Jose Andujar", Texas State Cemetery, based on his obituary by a staff writer, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 3 September 2003; accessed 5 May 2016
  11. "Gold-Headed Cane History", Tarrant County Medical Society website, 2015; accessed 5 May 2016
  12. Billy Hathorn, "Mayor Ernest Angelo, Jr., of Midland and the 96-0 Reagan Sweep of Texas, May 1, 1976," West Texas Historical Association Yearbook, Vol. 86 (2010), pp. 77-89
  13. "Index to Politicians: Andrey to Anthonis". Retrieved September 10, 2011.
  14. "Best and Worst Legislators (by year)". Retrieved September 12, 2011.
  15. "ABC Evening News, March 22, 1973". Retrieved September 10, 2011.
  16. Cindy Rugeley (4 February 1990). "GOP takes Tarrant as stronghold; More Democrats switching parties". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved September 12, 2011.
  17. 1 2 "Betty Andujar Papers". Retrieved September 10, 2011.
Preceded by
J. P. Word
Texas State Senator from District 12 (Tarrant County)

Elizabeth Richards "Betty" Andujar

Succeeded by
Hugh Parmer
Preceded by
H. Tati Santiesteban
Texas State Senate President Pro Tempore

Elizabeth Richards "Betty" Andujar

Succeeded by
Don Adams
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