Leonel J. Castillo, 74, passed away on November 4, 2013. He is preceded in death by parents, Seferino and Anita Castillo, and sister, Mary Castillo. He is survived by his loving wife, Evelyn Castillo, daughter Avalyn Langemeier and son-in-law Paul Langemeier, son Dr. Efrem Castillo, 9 grandchildren, his brother Seferino Castillo and spouse Angie Castillo, his sister Anita Serrano and spouse Jim Serrano, and brother-in-law John Castillo.|
Born June 9, 1939 in Victoria, Texas, Leonel obtained his Bachelor's degree from St. Mary's University in San Antonio, his Master's degree from University of Pittsburgh, and honorary Ph.D. degrees.
As a young idealist, Leonel volunteered for the Peace Corps and served in the Philippines, where he met his wife of over 50 years. Leonel then moved to Houston in 1967 with his family and soon became involved with local neighborhood organizations. He organized across racial lines and worked to find common ground on important issues to each community, including integration and better educational opportunities for the children of Houston.
He served as Director of SER-Jobs for Progress and board member of Catholic Charities and the Memorial Hermann Hospital advisory board. He was one of the co-founders of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Houston International University. He also was a teacher at the University of Houston and Texas Southern University.
As a civil rights activist, he served our city and country. Elected City Controller in 1971, Leonel became Houston's first Hispanic elected official. He served as Commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service under President Carter. He also served as education liaison and advisor to Houston Mayors Lanier, Brown and White.
Leonel will be missed as a husband, father, grandfather, mentor and friend to many people.
The visitation will be on Friday, Nov. 8, from 6 pm to 9 pm at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, 6723 Reed Road, Houston, Texas 77087, with the rosary at 7 pm. The memorial mass will be on Monday, Nov. 11, at 2 pm, at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart at 1111 St. Joseph Pkwy (at San Jacinto), Houston, Texas 77002. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to
or Houston International University, 1620 Crockett Street, Houston, Texas 77007.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Nov. 7, 2013