JENKINS, CYNTHIA ANN LATIOLAIS (1952~2004) Cynthia Ann Latiolais Jenkins was born with politics in her blood in Pasadena, Texas on Election Day, November 4, 1952. The first child of a Cajun-Irish working family, her father, Maurice Joseph Latiolais, was a dredge boat captain for Brown and Root and, her mother, Wilma Nell Samford, came from a politically active East Texas family. Cindy was a dark eyed, curly haired, precocious child, who moved with her parents often until settling in Anahuac, Texas at the age of four in 1956. With her younger sister, Sarah, she grew in an enriched environment of close family, friends, and pets. A strong, curious mind, she discovered reading very early, completing the World Book Encyclopedia by the age of eight. The rural, small town environment of nurturing community, strong Catholic indoctrination, and good schools instilled her with the liberal compassion and activism that would be a driving force throughout her life.
Cindy's career was characterized by public service and political activism. Her appointments to committees and boards include the Chambers County Ad Hoc Planning Committee in 1974 by Chambers County Judge Oscar Nelson; the Texas Council on Input on Crime, Rehabilitation, and Prevention in 1976 by Governor Dolph Briscoe; the Citizens' Advisory Committee to the Office of Public Utility Counsel in 1984 by Governor Mark White; and the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners in 1984 by Mark White with reappointment in 1991 by Governor Ann Richards. She was elected to the State Democratic Executive Committee in 1982-84, and the highlight of her term was participating in the nomination of the first woman vice presidential candidate (Geraldine Ferraro on the Mondale-Ferraro ticket) as a delegate to the 1982 Democratic convention in San Francisco.
Cindy worked on campaigns for several people and issues in which she strongly believed, including Lloyd Bentsen's U.S. Senate campaigns, Dolph Briscoe's gubernatorial campaign in 1974, John Hill's gubernatorial campaign in 1978, Mark White's campaign for attorney general in 1978 and governor in 1988, Ann Richards gubernatorial campaign in 1990, an ordinance banning discrimination against gay and lesbian Houston employees in 1985, and a host of local and state Democratic campaigns.
As a consumer member of the Board of Medical Examiners, Cindy was a vocal advocate of reforming the board to provide protection of patients against medical negligence. The Board had previously been ineffective in the discipline of negligent doctors due to lack of funding and understaffing, and patients' only recourse was through civil legal action. In an effort led by Cindy, the Board's funding and staffing were increased, and the Board investigated and reviewed cases with considerably greater efficiency. Whereas the Board had focused on narcotics abuses by doctors, under Cindy it shifted its attention to all aspects of professional medical competency and disciplined physicians for all manner of abuses. Cindy's service on the board was praised by both consumer advocates and doctors who wanted the integrity of their profession restored.
Cindy married David Jenkins in 1975 and made Stowell, Texas their home. She continued her employment with Chambers County working in both District Clerk R.B. Sheerers' office and the late H.J. "Red" Guillory's Justice of the Peace Court. Wanting to devote more time to David's rice farming and other family businesses, she went to work for her late father-in-law, Tom F. Jenkins. This also allowed her to devote more time to her social and political interests.
Cindy lost her long battle with illness on Saturday, October 16, 2004 at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Beaumont. She is survived by her husband David Jenkins, children Barkley and Jessica, parents Mike and Cissy Latiolais, sister Sarah Cerrone, mother-in-law Nita Jenkins, and numerous family and friends. She will long be remembered for her social consciousness and her commitment to making life better for not only those around her but for society as a whole.