Sen. Lucio Fondly Recalls The "Great Communicator" Raul Besteiro, Jr. ("Mr. B.")
"Mr. B." this week we lost another soldier in the war in Iraq, bringing the count to 11 fallen soldiers for the Rio Grande Valley.
These soldiers have been in the front lines on foreign soil, upholding our Democratic principles and fighting for the liberties we enjoy daily.
And recently, we lost one of the greatest foot soldiers our community has ever known. This soldier was you, Mr. Raul Besteiro, Jr. You fought continuously throughout your life for the rights of our children and public education funding for our community.
I remember, "Mr. B," the day you gave me my first job as a teacher in the Brownsville Independent School District. Although I was a little nervous and worried about how I would relate to the students, you took me under your wing and showed me the greatest gift that you could ever give a student: your time.
You were such a wonderful communicator--you gave advice, lent support and listened.
You yourself set the example by giving so much of your time to public education, not only as a teacher, principal and superintendent, but also as Chairman of the Board of Education of the South Texas Independent School District. You were a friend to students, teachers and parents.
I can't imagine how many children went through your office doors--always open--learning from you about the meaning of leadership and respect, and the importance of a great education.
"Mr. B," you influenced and impacted at least four generations. You were a founding father. Brownsville has since been followed by generations of leaders who lived by your standard: "To be the best, you must do your best. The potential is within you, if you have the courage to dream and the strength to act."
Your dreams, "Mr. B," were for the betterment of Brownsville. Your actions spoke to all of us as they revealed the passion you held for our city's place in the world.
And that passion, "Mr. B," was not only for education but for employment of our citizens.
I remember the day I decided to run for public office. Not only did you support me, but I recall fondly the advice you offered: "Make your service to the public the cornerstone of the office you hold."
It is my earnest wish that I have made you proud and carried some of the legacy you began as I serve. I hope as you look down from that great resting place, you think I am serving the people of Senate District 27 as honorably and as humbly as you did.
"Mr. B," you knew what public service was all about and taught me well. You taught me to always take the high road, and that the most important skill a public official has is an ability to listen to the hearts of the people.
You taught me that there is nothing more important than integrity, and integrity means more when it is combined with compassion and strength.
Back in 1997, when you were named its director, I was confident that our Brownsville port would become one of our country's major gateways.
That same year, with your tremendous assistance, we passed Senate Bill 1276, which authorized the port to collect fees for oversize trucks carrying cargo to and from Mexico by creating the Overweight Corridor Program.
When you testified before the Legislature, your compelling remarks convinced them to also require a 55 miles-per-hour speed limit for these vehicles, and specific travel times for these 80,000 pounds-plus trucks, for everyone's safety.
I recall how together we worked on these intricate details, much to the port's success. Before your departure, you left a port with a business so brisk it had to be expanded.
No one has worked harder for the development of our port here in Brownsville than you. Your incredible work ethic brought tremendous results and opportunities for economic development in this area you so loved.
Be assured your efforts will be credited by historians as the driving force that transcended the movement of trade from this part of the country to northern Mexico, South America and even into a global market.
And though we mourn and regret your sudden loss, which prevented you from accomplishing all your goals, we can only thank you for setting in motion plans to expand our deep water port for the benefit of this area, this state and this country.
In your honor, I will request that the Brownsville Navigation District commissioners carry on your work and finalize plans for the Port of Brownsville International Bridge, and that they consider naming this vital economic span in the most fitting manner--the Raul Besteiro, Jr. Port of Brownsville International Bridge.
Farewell, "Mr. B." and may God bless you! As always, if you have any input or questions regarding these or other matters, please do not hesitate to contact my office in Austin at 512-463-0127, Brownsville at 956-548-0227 and Weslaco at 956-968-9927.