Former Bakersfield mayor and Kern County supervisor Mary K. Shell has died of an undisclosed illness at age 91.

The Bakersfield native began her political career as a Republican volunteer in the 1950s and continued endorsing candidates through the last election. She became Bakersfield’s first female mayor in 1981 before becoming a three term supervisor.

Mary K. Shell got her pilot’s license and was a reporter for the Bakersfield Californian before entering politics. She worked with several community groups and civic organizations including the Kern County Museum, donating the outfit she was wearing when she was sworn in.

She died less than a month after former mayor Harvey Hall.

Kelli Pierce