Former San Jose Councilmember Nancy Pyle died on Friday at her home.
Pyle, 85, died from dementia on July 14 according to her husband, Roger. She worked for more than 25 years as a teacher in the San Jose Unified School District before running for San Jose City Council. She represented District 10 for two full terms from 2005 to 2012. She was succeeded by former Councilmember Johnny Khamis.
“I’m sad to hear and I know that she devoted much of her life to the community,” Khamis told San José Spotlight. “Whether it was teaching or serving as a city councilmember, her heart was in service.”
In 2015, Pyle suffered a heart attack while at a luncheon at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center that required firefighters to resuscitate her. About five years ago, Pyle moved to the Villages, a senior retirement community in San Jose. There, she began leading the Democratic Club, with 250 members. As Pyle’s dementia progressed she eventually had to step down.
Tony Berg, current president of the Democratic Club at the Villages, shared his sadness over Pyle’s death and said she radiated with life and enthusiasm. He also said that she helped expand the reach of the Democratic Club within the community in her two years as president.
“She knew everybody, everybody knew her and everybody loved her,” Berg told San José Spotlight. “I feel very privileged to have been able to work with her for a year or two.”
San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan said Pyle served San Jose with distinction throughout her time as a teacher and councilmember.
“Nancy was a beloved, compassionate and fierce advocate who made her community a better place,” Mahan told San José Spotlight, who represented District 10 before becoming mayor last fall. “Her legacy lives on in the sports fields she expanded, the library hours she extended and the open spaces she prioritized.”
Throughout her time on city council, she worked on various projects in her district. She focused on helping the business community, revamping and maintaining streets and parks and youth programs, specifically prioritizing after-school and recreational programs.
Pyle helped bring numerous businesses to the Blossom Hill and Almaden Expressway corridor. Her work as community and economic development committee chair also helped her streamline permit processes for small businesses. Pyle focused on adding sports fields at various schools throughout the San Jose Unified School District and pushed for a local ordinance to make homeowners responsible for underage drinking.
Sen. Dave Cortese served with Pyle on the San Jose City Council for one term and sat next to her dais.
“We typically saw eye-to-eye on policy issues because our hearts and values were aligned in serving the people of San Jose,” Cortese said. “Pattie and I send our love and condolences to Councilmember Pyle’s friends and family, especially Roger, her beloved husband.”
Pyle made strides in fighting for environmental spaces. She worked to protect the Almaden Urban Reserve and chaired the Coyote Valley Task Force, according to Lee Wilcox, assistant city manager and Pyle’s former chief of staff. She helped save a large swath of the 140 trees that PG&E planned to remove at T.J. Martin and Jeffrey Fontana parks.
Her work on the city council was recognized by Congressmembers Zoe Lofgren and Anna Eshoo and former Congressmember Mike Honda, who honored her work in the Congressional Record, including her decision to divert $20,000 of her office budget to the Domestic Violence Prevention Program.
Before serving in office, she was selected as the 1998 Outstanding Woman of the Year by former Assemblymember Jim Cunneen. This was following her work on the San Jose-Evergreen Community College District as its board president.
Wilcox said he will miss her guidance, humor and grace.
“Nancy was beloved by those who worked closest with her,” Wilcox told San José Spotlight. “Her commitment to collaboration made her an incredible leader for our community.”
San Jose leaders, friends and politicos say Pyle’s legacy and record of leadership will live on.
“I’m sure Nancy is in heaven already starting a Democratic club,” joked former county Supervisor Ken Yeager, who served with Pyle for two years on the city council. “Clearly the Democratic angels needed her leadership.”
Pyle is survived by her two children, Lisa and James Dugan, and her husband Roger.
Contact Julia Forrest at [email protected] or follow @juliaforrest35 on Twitter.