Kreidler Funeral Home
314 North 10th Street
McAllen, TX 78501
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Dr. Ramiro Raul Casso, physician, educator, and civil rights advocate, was called to his heavenly home by Our Lord. He died peacefully on June 23, 2011, at Rio Grande Regional Hospital in McAllen, Texas. He was born on August 4, 1922, in Laredo, Texas. He grew up during the Great Depression and he and his brothers did all that they could do to support their family when they were not attending school. Casso graduated from Texas A&M University - College Station in 1943 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering. Immediately following his graduation, he enlisted in the United States Army Reserve, where he served overseas during World War II as an Anti-Aircraft Artillery Captain. He was honorably discharged at the conclusion of the war in 1946, and returned to Laredo where he spent the next two years working as an engineer for the International Boundary and Water Commission. During this time, he met Emma Laurel and in 1949, they were married at the First Baptist Church of Laredo.
The following year, Dr. Casso began his medical preparation when he took his wife and newborn baby to Waco, Texas, to attend Baylor University. He graduated from Baylor in 1952, with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry. From there, he and his growing family moved to Dallas, where he began medical school at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. In 1956, he graduated, became licensed as a Texas physician, and moved to San Antonio to begin an internship at Robert B. Green Memorial Hospital. In 1957, Dr. Casso moved to McAllen, Texas and opened his private family medical practice. During his thirty-seven years of practice as a Board Certified Family Physician, he delivered over two thousand babies and treated many more patients of all ages, ethnicities, and income levels. He devoted much of his time to treating the indigent and uninsured, and operated a charity medical clinic for farm workers in a southwest McAllen barrio, for which he was awarded the Bishop Medeiros Golden Deeds Award in 1970. He also assisted in the founding of the Hidalgo County Health Care Corporation, which now operates five outpatient clinics in Hidalgo County.
After retiring from his medical practice in 1994, Dr. Casso had the opportunity to serve his community in another of his passions - education. In 1995, he was asked to serve as the first Division Director of the Allied Health Division at the newly organized South Texas Community College in McAllen. He was promoted in 1996 to Executive Director of Nursing and Allied Health Development, and in 1998, he assumed the position of Vice President for Institutional Advancement, where he remained until he retired in 2002.
In addition to his professional careers as physician and educator, Dr. Casso was a member of numerous organizations where he promoted education, healthcare, and civil rights at the local, state, and national levels. Among the many positions he held and awards he received, he was a member of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and participated in negotiations with the State regarding the Delgado v. Bastrop Independent School District case which resulted in the desegregation of Hispanic schoolchildren in Texas public schools. He was also a strong supporter of farm workers' rights, and assisted them in many ways. Dr. Casso served on the School Board of the McAllen Independent School District from 1959-1965, was a member of the Health Planning Advisory Committee of the Lower Rio Grande Development Council, and was the first physician to be a member of the McAllen General Hospital Board of Directors. He supported passage of the Medicare legislation, participated in two White House conferences on Health and Nutrition, was appointed to the National Advisory Board of Health Research Facilities of the National Institute of Health, and was twice selected to serve on the Texas Board of Health. He was appointed to the Texas Human Rights Commission in 1983, and he also served on the National Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). He was a 32nd Degree Mason, and in 2003 was given the Golden Trowel Award, the highest recognition that a Mason can receive from a local lodge. The McAllen Chamber of Commerce named Dr. Casso McAllen's Man of the Year in 1996, for his work in leading the citizens' volunteer effort for the establishment of the University of Texas Regional Academic Health Center (UT-RAHC) in the Rio Grande Valley. In 1996, he also assisted in the founding of EI Milagro Clinic in McAllen, a clinic for indigent and uninsured persons, and served on its Board of Directors as President. He also served as an Adjunct faculty member of the Texas A&M University School of Rural Public Health. In 2001, the South Texas Community College Board of Directors renamed their Nursing and Allied Health Center the Dr. Ramiro R. Casso Nursing and Allied Health Center.
Dr. Casso was preceded in death by his parents, Francisco M. Casso and Josefa V. Casso; by two of his siblings who died in childhood, Alfredo Casso and Aida Casso; and by his brothers, Eloy Casso, Frank Casso and J. B. Casso. He is survived by his loving wife of 62 years, Emma Laurel Casso; his five children, Thelma Casso (Pete) Morales, Lydia Casso (Ken) Tummel, Sylvia Casso, Daniel (Araceli) Casso, and David (Vicki) Casso; and by ten grandchildren and one great-grandson.
The Casso Family would like to thank every healthcare provider who played any role in Dr. Casso's care, including the nursing staffs at Rio Grande Regional Hospital and Family-Focused Health Care. In particular, the family is grateful for the medical care given by Dr. K. V. Chowdary, Dr. Luis Bay, and Dr. Jesse Rodriguez. The expertise and grace with which they cared for Dr. Casso is greatly appreciated and will never be forgotten. The family is also grateful for the kind and loving assistance provided in Dr. Casso's home by Iris Molina, Blanca Perez, and Lucy Valencia.
In lieu of flowers, the Casso Family suggests that the life of Dr. Casso be honored through monetary donations which will be used for student educational scholarships. Any such donations may be made to South Texas College, Attn: Dr. Ramiro R. Casso Scholarship Fund, P. O. Box 9701, McAllen, Texas 78502.
Visitation will be held from noon until 8:00 p.m. today, Sunday, June 26, 2011, at Kreidler Funeral Home in McAllen, with the family being present from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. A funeral service will take place at 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, Monday, June 27, 2011, at First Baptist Church in McAllen with Pastor Mark Rotramel officiating. Burial will follow at Roselawn Cemetery in McAllen.
Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Kreidler Funeral Home of McAllen.
To leave a message for the family, please visit www.kreidlerfuneralhome.com.
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Published in The Monitor on June 26, 2011
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