Robert De La Garza, 82, died Friday, September 27, 2013, at Rio Grande Regional Hospital in McAllen.
Robert was born in Mercedes and had lived in Edinburg most of his life. He attended Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church School in Mission, Texas and graduated from Mission High School in 1950. While a Mission Eagle, he lettered in football, track and baseball. He was the premier tailback throughout his four years on the football team, and in 1948, held the state record for the 880-yard dash. He was also a member of the 1949 American Legion baseball team that advanced to the state finals. In 1949 he was a delegate to American Legion Boys State. In his senior year of high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserve. After graduating from Mission High School, he attended Edinburg Junior College (now The University of Texas - Pan American) where he played on the Bronc Football team as a tailback. He had the good fortune at that time to meet the love of his life, Gilda Barron from Edinburg. He had originally met her at her quinceañera, and they rekindled their relationship in 1951 that lasted 62 years.
In February 1951, he transferred from the U.S. Navy Reserve to the active Navy and served in San Diego, California during the Korean Conflict. On June 1, 1951, he married Gilda Barron in Edinburg. From 1950 to 1953 he worked for Elmer Motley Construction selling ranch-style houses to fellow veterans. From 1953 to 1955 he worked as a security guard for Moorefield Air Force Base. In 1955, he was hired by McAllen State Bank as a teller and began his 40 year career in banking. While at McAllen State Bank he advanced to the position as officer of the bank. In 1968, VF Neuhaus appointed him Executive Vice President and a member of the Board of Directors of the Border Bank of Hidalgo. By 1972 he became President of the bank, a position he held until his retirement in 1995. While serving as President of Border Bank of Hidalgo, he was also a founding member of the Board of Directors while simultaneously serving as President of Citizens State Bank of Roma.
He became a resident of Edinburg in 1958 and became an avid Edinburg High School Bobcat fan. In addition to his banking career, he proudly served on numerous national, state and local boards and organizations. He was a member of the Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District Board of Trustees for 12 years, including three years as President and was a founding member of the University of Texas - Pan American Alumni Association, serving as its President from 1990-1991. He was a member of the National Board of Directors of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and served on the Board of Directors for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. Mr. De La Garza was a member of the Heritage Associates Program for the Hidalgo County Historical Museum, sat on the Board of Directors of the National Economic Development Association and was awarded the title of "Honorary Citizen" of New Orleans, LA. He was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Hidalgo County Mental Health and Mental Retardation Center, a member of the Board of Directors and President of the Edinburg Housing Trust and a member of the Sembradores de Amistad. Mr. De La Garza served as President of the Rio Grande Valley Bankers Association. He was also a member of the Tripa Club, Pica Ojos Club and a member of Freddy Gonzalez American Legion Post 408. He was honored by The University of Texas - Pan American Alumni Association for his years of service and was recognized as a Notable Valley Hispanic Honoree by the University. Other notable honors include Border Fest King in 1985, Cuidadano de la Semana by KGBT Radio and Television, Citizen of the Year of the Edinburg Housing Authority and Distinguished Honoree of the American Legion State Baseball Tournament Committee. He was honored by the Rio Grande Valley Boys Scouts of America for distinguished service, received a Distinguished Service award from the Texas Department of Human Services, was recognized by the Edinburg Boys and Girls Club for contributions and service to the Boys and Girls Club and as a distinguished school board member by Texas State Teachers Association/National Education Association.
Robert was a devoted husband, father and grandfather. He loved to barbeque and his 4th of July celebrations were legendary. He was a rancher, hunter and Dallas Cowboy fan. He will be greatly missed.
The family wishes to thank the staff and health care providers at Arbor View Rehabilitation and Nursing Center in Edinburg for their devoted care and affection they showed him. We also wish to thank Johnny Joe of Johnny Joe's Productions for the gift of a personal tribute on the life of our father.
He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Gilda Barron De La Garza of Edinburg; three children, Eddie De La Garza of Edinburg, Ruby (Lawrence) Krautkremer of Willis, Texas and Rene (Sylvia) De La Garza of Edinburg; 14 grandchildren, Daniel De La Garza, Andrew De La Garza, Erik De La Garza, Gabriel De La Garza, Kendyl (Coleman) Hale, Quentin De La Garza, Anise De La Garza, John Struthers, Kristen (Clinton) Williams, Gennine (Tobias) Karrsten, Matthew (Elizabeth) Krautkremer, Gloria (Robert) Rankin, Robert De La Garza, and Lamar (Hugo) Garza; five great-grandchildren, Alexandra, Micheal, Mason, Malisa and Emma Lee; a brother, Elijio "Kika" (Lucille) De La Garza II of McAllen; sisters-in-law, Delia Barron, Maruca Lopez; and brother-in-law, Eli (Eva) Barron.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Dario and Eliza De La Garza.
Visitation will be held from 5 to 9 p.m., with a 7 p.m. rosary today, October 1, 2013, at Memorial Funeral Home, 208 E. Canton in Edinburg. Funeral mass will take place at 2 p.m. Wednesday October 2, 2013, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Edinburg. Interment will follow at Valley Memorial Gardens in McAllen. Military honors will be conducted by VFW Post 8788 of McAllen. Pallbearers will be his grandsons, John Struthers, Daniel De La Garza, Andrew De La Garza, Erik De la Garza, Robert De La Garza, Matthew Krautkremer, Gabriel De La Garza and Quentin De La Garza. Honorary pallbearers will be Elliott Bottom, Elijio "Kika" De La Garza, Clarence Callis, Richard Flores, Romeo De La Garza, Humberto "Beto" Garcia, Dario Guerra, Leo Mares, Joe Rodriguez, Glen Roney, Alejo Salinas, Ciro Treviño, Sol Marroquin and Jesse Treviño.
Funeral services are under the direction of Memorial Funeral Home in Edinburg.