School Namesake Curtistene Smith McCowan

The Honorable Curtistene Smith McCowan was the ninth child of Blanche and Riley Smith, born February 25, 1948 in the Marion County town of Smithland, Texas.  She was educated in Smithland and Jefferson public schools and her leadership skills kicked in early.  Encouraged and supported by her parents and older siblings, she adventurously immersed in educational opportunities and challenges, testing boundaries even then.  Learning to drive on the rural roads of Marion County, she provided transportation for family and friends. During the 1962-63 school year, she was crowned Miss Smithland, setting the groundwork for later being crowned Miss Central High School.  A basketball standout in high school, Curtistene found true passion in the band…especially with her bandmate, the love of her life, Leon McCowan.

Curtistene and Leon’s love bloomed to marriage, then two baby carriages as they were blessed first with Danny Sebastian and later with Leon Curtis. The epitome of a power couple long before the term was coined, they partnered with and supported each other to every level of success.  Together they pursued higher education endeavors after high school graduation, moving to the DFW area in the early 1970’s, quickly settling in DeSoto, the city she loved so well.  Having accepted Christ at very young ages, the McCowans joined the Kirkwood Temple CME Church in Dallas and have served there for over 47 years.

As a working mom, Mayor McCowan received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Dallas Baptist University and an Associate’s Degree in Business Management from El Centro College. She was employed by the Federal Trade Commission for over 32 years, and served as Senior Investigator for over 18 years. She retired from the federal government on January 1, 2005, after more than 32 years of service.

Planting the seeds to love learning in her sons, Mayor McCowan became actively involved in their education, joining the DeSoto ISD PTA and encouraging better meeting options for working moms.  In 1989, the McCowans joined like-minded parents to form Concerned DeSoto Citizens, a 501c3 entity created to serve as a vital organization for promoting and providing educational assistance to all children of DeSoto, Texas and the surrounding area.  In 1990, Mayor McCowan became the first African-American elected to public office in DeSoto when she was elected to the DeSoto ISD Board of Trustees, later serving two terms as president. 

 On April 5, 1986, Mayor McCowan was initiated into Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s Dallas Alumnae Chapter along with 42 other women beginning the journey of creating lifelong sisters and friends.  A Golden Life Member of the sorority, she served locally, including as Chapter President, regionally and nationally for 34 years until her transition to the Omega Omega Chapter. 

After more than 30 years of service to the students and families of DeSoto ISD, in 2007 the district named their newly built campus in Glenn Heights the Curtistene Smith McCowan Middle School.  Students marveled at the ability to meet and know the person for whom their campus was named, as Mayor McCowan made a point of greeting them on the first day of school and serving as a regular campus volunteer.

The Honorable Curtistene Smith McCowan was elected the 21st Mayor of DeSoto on May 7, 2016 – the first woman to hold the office. Re-elected in 2019 to a second term, she had served on the DeSoto City Council since May, 2012, serving as Mayor Pro Tem from 2014 to 2016.

This servant leader received many well-deserved accolades for her achievements and accomplishments, each bringing special joy to her siblings.  Before becoming Mayor, she was called Daughter, Sister, Cousin, Aunt, Wife, Mother, Mimi, Trailblazer, Mentor, Role Model, Soror, Friend as she meaningfully touched the lives of thousands in the time she was given.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020, God saw fit to call His angel home to rest from her labor.  She was preceded in death by her parents and siblings Charlene, Riley Henry, Dessie Victoria, Bencil, Thedoria, Dorothy Jean and Janice.

So many mourn her passing, none more than her devoted and supportive partner, her husband of 54 years, Leon R. McCowan; sons Danny Sebastian (Angie) and Dr. Leon Curtis (Stephanie); granddaughters Tiana, Kirsten and Taylor; nephew, with whom she grew up with, MacArthur (Brenda) Smith; sister Lugene (George) Garrett; and a host of cousins, nieces, nephews, god-children, mentees, Sorors and friends.