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Pena

Albert A. Pena Jr, age 88 went to be with the Lord on July 3, 2006, in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas. He was a WWII Veteran of the U.S. Navy. He served at Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba and served on escort duty to the first allied invasion in North Africa. He was honorably discharged at the wars end in 1945. He returned to San Antonio and completed his education at South Texas School of Law in 1950. He joined his father and brother Richard at the Law Firm of Pena, Pena and Pena. After joining the firm he recognized the need for people to have legal counsel to deal with discriminatory practices of the time. His first case in Hondo, Texas sparked a quest to help those in need. It helped desegregate the school system in Hondo. He began to focus on these types of cases. He also began to become active in the Democratic Party. He took many cases to help under privileged. He then became a Bexar County Commissioner in 1956. In that position he would utilize that platform to speak out over social injustice, poor legislation and inequitable practices of others. He joined LULAC in its early days and the American G.I. Forum. He also helped form the VIVA Kennedy Clubs which helped to elect President John F. Kennedy. The organization evolved into a political action group for Mexican Americans in South Texas. It was called PASO - Political Association of Spanish speaking Organizations. He also helped form the Mexican American Unity Council known as MAUC and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund known as MALDEF. He was also part of the formation of Southwest Council of La Raza. He helped organize the SASA boycott committee in 1971 in protest of statements made by then Mayor WW McAllister which were derogatory towards people of Mexican descent in which McAllister stated that Mexicans were not ambitious people. He and other civil rights leaders were arrested for this picketing. The boycott urged all these "Mexicans without ambition" to withdraw their money and many of them did. He was involved in a nationwide petition drive to free Angela Davis, a college professor who was denied due process of law. She was a professor at UCLA and a professed Black Communist party member. This denied her a right to a fair trail. After civil rights legislation that prohibited discrimination was passed in 1965 Albert was the first to file a discrimination lawsuit in the state of Texas on behalf of a client. Albert and his good friend G J Sutton, a state legislator at the time and Black east side leader, were the first minorities to enter Joskes Department store in downtown San Antonio to request seating at the Camilia Room, a restaurant known for restriction to minorities. After a lengthy wait for service their order was finally taken and their food served. They ate their meal and departed. The Joskes Camilia room was never the same as this set a precedent that ended discrimination at this establishment. Another incident involving G J Sutton involved the Democratic convention of 1960 in Los Angeles Ca in which Mr. Sutton was denied access to the convention hall, however, Albert and other delegates challenged the security people and encouraged them to recognize his proper credentials and thus they allowed him access. He was appointed a Municipal Court Judge in April 1977. Six years later he was appointed as the Presiding Judge of the Municipal Courts in San Antonio. In 1991 allegations of improprieties at the court were made and Judge Pena went to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct and assisted them in the investigation of the allegations. Allegations against him were determined to be unfounded. He retired in 1992 for Municipal Court. He semi-retired and practiced some law. Awards received since his retirement include 1999 Mexican American Unity Council Lifetime Achievement Award, 2001 Bexar County Democrats Lifetime Achievement Award, 2001 Martin Luther King Jr. Commission Chairman Lifetime Achievement, 2002 Cesar Chavez March Lifetime Achievement Award, ACLU Lifetime Achievement Award. He is survived by his wife Frances Guerra Pena, his children Albert Pena III and wife Sylvia Pena, Belinda Dyer, William "Bill" Albert Pena Sr and wife Deana Armstrong Pena, Sandra Lockaby and husband Marty Lockaby, Mary Magdalene Terry and husband Jim Terry, Olga Pena Wurts and husband Geoffrey Wurts, Roxanne Sandoval and husband Isabel Sandoval Jr, Rozlyn Wilkens and husband Jim Wilkens, Jesse Guerra and wife Kelly Guerra and Christina Pena and numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren. Pall bearers are Albert A Pena IV, Robert Francis Pena, Aaron Sandoval, Fred C. Kroeger IV, Eric D. Wurts, and Anthony Montana. Visitation will be held at Angelus Funeral Home, 1119 N. St Mary's at Brooklyn Ave on Thursday afternoon from 2:00-4:30pm. Services will be held at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church. The rosary will be held Thursday July 6 at 7:00 pm. The mass will be held at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church at 12:00 Friday. Bishop John Yanta of the Diocese of Amarillo and Father Blanco of Immaculate Heart of Mary Church will be Co-Celebrants of the mass. Burial will be at Fort Sam Houston at 1:30 on Friday. The family requests that in lieu of flowers that donations be made to the Albert Pena Memorial Scholarship Fund held at Mexican American Unity Council, 2300 W Commerce, Suite 200, San Antonio, TX 78207. Condolences may be sent to the Pena family at www.theangelusfuneralhome.com. Arrangements by The Angelus Funeral Home.

Published in Express-News on July 6, 2006
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