Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: E(mily) R. Frank (1967-) Biography - Personal to Martha Graham (1893–1991) Biography » Mary Rose Garrido Wilcox: 1949—: County Official Biography - Faced Discrimination In Arizona, Hired By Deconcini, Selected To Serve As Vice Mayor, Shooting Failed To Sideline Wilcox

Mary Rose Garrido Wilcox: 1949—: County Official - Faced Discrimination In Arizona

superior national maricopa asu


She was born Mary Rose Garrido on November 21, 1949, in Superior, Arizona, a rural mining town of about 5,000, more than 80 percent of whom were Hispanic. Her father, John Garrido, was a copper miner, while her mother, Betty Nunez Garrido, was a homemaker active in the local school system and the Roman Catholic church. After fighting for his country in the Korean War, John Garrido returned to Superior a new man, no longer willing to settle for treatment as a second-class citizen in the town of his birth. He spearheaded a campaign among his fellow miners to form a union. As her parents fought for a better life in Superior, Wilcox experienced changes in her world as well. After years of attending a segregated school in Superior, she found herself in a newly integrated classroom. Mirroring her parents' activism in the community, she took an active role in her local high school, serving on the student council and playing clarinet in the school band. The growing role played by Hispanics in community affairs and in the schools instilled in Wilcox a growing pride in the accomplishments of her people.

At a Glance . . .


Born Mary Rose Garrido on November 21, 1949, in Superior, AZ; married Earl V. Wilcox, 1971; children: Yvonne Wilcox Rhymes. Education: Arizona State University, studied social work, 1967-71. Religion: Roman Catholic. Politics: Democrat.


Career: U.S. Senator Dennis DeConcini, special assistant, 1977-83; City of Phoenix, councilwoman, 1983-93; Maricopa County, Arizona, county supervisor, 1993–.


Memberships: National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials; National League of Cities and Towns; National Association of Counties; National League of Cities; Arizona Women in Municipal Government; National Council of La Raza.


Awards: Mesa United Way Leadership and Service Award, 1994; Guadalupe Family Health Center Award of Appreciation, 1996; Downtown Phoenix Partnership Board of Directors Service Award, 1997; Maricopa County Democrats Service Award, 1999; Maricopa Integrated Health System Dedication Award, 1999; Maricopa County Continuum of Care Regional Committee on Homelessness Community Leader of the Year, 2001.




Although Hispanics had begun to establish themselves as first-class citizens in her hometown, Wilcox soon discovered that discrimination was still alive and well elsewhere in Arizona. Enrolling at Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe to study social work, Wilcox was cruelly reminded that not everyone regarded her as an equal. She and three other minority women found themselves relegated to a single room in the ASU dormitory. Striking back against this sort of bias at a state institution, Wilcox threw herself into campus activism, participating in a strike to improve working conditions for ASU's laundry workers, most of whom were Hispanic. Recalling how unionization had improved the quality of life for Superior's copper miners, Wilcox hoped that solidarity among ASU's laundry workers might bring similar benefits.


It was at ASU that Mary Rose met fellow student Earl V. Wilcox, who had grown up in the heavily Hispanic neighborhoods of southeast Phoenix, an area ravaged by poverty and crime. His background had inspired him to look for ways to help make life better for those with whom he'd grown up. When the two met, Earl Wilcox was working as a youth project director. Mary Rose and Earl married in 1971, and she dropped out of school to go to work in support of her husband's quest for a master's degree in education. He would later become a state representative and a justice of the peace.

Wilcox worked as a job developer for the Manpower program in Maricopa County, helping to find employment opportunities in the private sector. She worked closely with members of the Yaqui Native American tribe who had been displaced from their homes in northern Arizona by a flood control project. She found that the Yaquis, a group with strong Hispanic influences, needed help not only in finding jobs but in locating housing and other forms of support.


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