Judge A. D. (Arnulfo Daniel) Azios died peacefully, on March 22, 2013, at the age of 92, in Houston, Texas. At his request, his life will be celebrated in a private memorial service.|
He was born in Laredo, Texas, on February 5, 1921, the youngest of six sons of Jose Maria and Petra Azios, and was preceded in death by his parents, and brothers Leopoldo Azios and Roberto Azios, both of Laredo, and Hector Azios, Enrique Azios and Benjamin Azios, who lived in Houston for over thirty years.
He is survived by the love of his life and wife of 66 years, Lauren Cuellar Azios, the other half of a compatible, complementary, incredible team; his three children, Norma Johnson and husband Tom, Diana Atchison and husband Charlie, and Arnie Azios and wife Leslie; his nine grandchildren, who lovingly called him "Papoo," Lauren Hoofnagle and husband Jason, Lt. Byron Johnson and wife Elizabeth, Cas Atchison, Cullen Atchison, Courtney Atchison, Alexis Azios, Milan Azios, Erica Azios, and Judge Azios; and his great-grandchildren Hadley and Haden Hoofnagle. Other surviving relatives include sisters-in-law Delia Azios and Consuelo Azios, dear nieces and nephews and their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
Educated in Laredo public schools, Judge Azios worked his way through college, majoring in pre-law at the University of Texas-Austin, where he was active in student government before serving in the Army infantry in World War II. Because of his strengths in languages, public speaking and debate, the Army sent him to the University of Nebraska for a three-month immersion training to learn German, which he claimed saved his life when he was captured after the Battle of the Bulge and sent to three German prisoner of war camps. There he was chosen barrack leader of fifty men, where he became acquainted with the German guards and advocated for his troops, trading Red Cross rations, including cigarettes, for slices of bread. Eventually, he led a ten-man escape group to the 5th Armored Division, after "one of my most horrifying experiences in the war -being caught in a bloody cross-fire between retreating Germans and advancing Americans. Had we been caught escaping, we could have been shot by the German guards, but we took our chances because we were starving to death."
After the war, he married Lauren Cuellar, Laredo, Texas, and graduated from South Texas School of Law, in Houston. There he practiced as an attorney for twenty-six years prior to his distinguished and lengthy judicial career, during which he presided over the following courts: Municipal Court, City of Houston, 1964-1972; Justice of the Peace, Pos. 1, Precinct 6, Harris County, 1973-1974; County Civil Court at Law No. 3, Harris County, 1974; County Criminal Court at Law No. 9, Harris County, 1977-1982; and the 232nd Judicial District Court, Harris County, 1983-1995. He retired on January 1, 1995, one month prior to his 75th birthday, and served as visiting judge presiding over district courts in 17 counties throughout Texas. He last served on the bench in 2011, at age 90, back in a Houston courtroom where he began his law career in 1949.
Judge Azios was the first Hispanic judge elected in Harris County. Among the many prominent cases in which he presided was the landmark Texas v. Cynthia Ray Campbell case, 1985, in 232nd Judicial District Court, the first court in Texas to try a DNA case. This case was recounted in the best seller, Daddy's Girl, by author Clifford Irving, and the made for television movie by the same name. Judge Azios was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Hispanic Bar Association, in 1998, for recognition of outstanding achievement and dedicated service to the bench, bar and community.
A celebrated story teller who relished entertaining family and friends with tales of his fascinating life-complete with gestures and sound effects, he told of his youth in Laredo growing up in a household of six rambunctious boys, the Great Depression when his father died suddenly of a stroke leaving his mother and close-knit band of brothers to survive as best they could, his UT days as student leader and experiences as security guard at Gregory Gym and the UT Tower, his harrowing war stories, of course, his early years as an attorney when Houston was young and vibrant like the war veterans and their families who energized it, and his political campaigns many years ago, prior to high dollar advertising firms and the advanced technology of social networking, when he and his wife, family and supporters sought votes the old fashioned way- meeting the electorate and shaking hands in every precinct throughout Harris County, one voter at a time.
He was a world traveler with his wife, a life-long scholar and avid reader, absorbing literature in law and ethics, history, linguistics, real estate investment, architecture, landscaping, and puns. He especially enjoyed linguistics and was so good at learning new languages that he made up his own and eventually many became fluent in A.D. isms. He was frequently asked to speak at programs and public forums within the community and the state of Texas and was often published in newspapers and magazines, bar and military journals.
Among his passions was the advancement of economically deprived students through their pursuit of educational opportunity. For those wishing to honor Judge Azios, tax deductible memorial gifts may be directed to The Azios Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Inc., 7422 Sheffield Bend Court, Houston, Texas, 77095.
In spite of his full schedule, his priority was his family whom he loved with all his heart, guiding them always with his life lessons, leading them in exploring the world through the city of Houston with its rich diversity of people and places, especially on Sundays. When asked to what he attributed his contentment, health, and youthful good looks at his advanced age, he would invariably reply, "Just one word. Love: Love of God, family, and work. I have been very blessed."
And so have we.
God bless you, Papoo. You are with us always.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Mar. 27, 2013