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Katherine Tapscott Poole

Memorial for Katherine Tapscott Poole

Born on Jan. 26, 1925
Departed on Jun. 13, 2016 and resided in Austin,, TX.
Service: Friday, Jun. 17, 2016
4:00 pm
Cemetery: Evergreen Cemetery
Please click on the links above for locations, times, maps, and directions.

Katherine (Tapscott) Poole Obituary

Born: January 26, 1925
Died: June 13, 2016

Katherine graduated from Navasota High School and attended UCLA before returning to Texas to earn a bachelors degree in education, and later a masters, from Prairie View A&M. She began her professional teaching career in Manor ISD and taught elementary education for 15 years; then taught another 25 years with Austin ISD where she was a special education teacher at Blackshear and Ortega Elementary Schools.

She acquired a lot on Leona Street and in 1964 was able to save and build a home in the Blackland Neighborhood. In 1966, she witnessed an annexation by the University of Texas of land where the LBJ Library now stands and that extended east of I-35 to Comal Street. In 1980, the University began another annexation with the intention of taking half of the Blackland Neighborhood to Chicon Street, about 200 houses, which would have included Katherine's home.

The neighbors reacted and organized the Blackland Neighborhood Association electing Katherine to head the group. Shy of titles, she insisted on being called "coordinator," rather than "president." For twelve stormy years she led the battle which was resolved when Ann Richards was elected governor and directed the UT Regents to come to terms with the neighborhood. During the struggle with UT, she and several other neighbors started a non-profit, the Blackland Community Development Corporation, to acquire land and build rental housing in the neighborhood, a move to counter the loss of affordable housing bulldozed by the UT Administration. The non-profit continued to develop housing for very low-income families and now has 48 units and a community center. The organization set aside nine houses for families transitioning from homelessness and after dedicating the homes with the help of UT President Williams Cunningham in 1994, helped almost 200 struggling families get on their feet.

When the fight with UT subsided, she turned her attention to neighborhood projects and pursued construction of a covered basketball court at Alamo Park. The Austin Community Foundation funded the project and it was later named "Katherine Poole Pavilion."

Katherine served as coordinator of the Blackland Neighborhood Association and board member of the Blackland Community Development Corporation for more than twenty years.

In 2006 she received national recognition for her efforts and was awarded the McAuley Foundation's "Courage in Community" Award.

She is survived by her daughter, Angela Sirls-Bells and son, John Scales, Jr.; a son-in-law, George Bell Jr.; a grandson, Cornelius Sirls; a granddaughter, Kara Bell; nieces, nephews, and a host of friends.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Katherine Poole Education Fund, Blackland CDC, 1902 East 22nd, Austin, Texas 78722.

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