SENATOR GREGORY LUNA RESTS AMONG TEXAS LEGENDS
AUSTIN - The late Senator Gregory Luna of San Antonio was laid to rest Tuesday, November 9, 1999 in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin. Luna served in the Texas Senate from January of 1993 until his resignation in September of 1999. Prior to serving in the Senate, he served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1985 through 1992, representing District 116. Senator Luna resigned his Senate seat due to health reasons, complications from diabetes. He died Saturday, November 6, 1999. He was 66.
Greg Luna was born November 17, 1932, the youngest of eight children to Eliseo and Elvira Sanchez Luna. He graduated from Lanier High School in San Antonio in 1950. Luna began his career by enlisting in the United States Army in 1953 after attending San Antonio College. After his stint in the Army, he joined the San Antonio Police Department. Senator Luna completed his education at Trinity University with a Bachelor of Arts in Math, and St. Mary's School of Law by attending night school, financing it through the GI Bill. Upon completion of law school, Luna joined the city's legal department as a municipal court prosecutor. In 1966, he began his private law practice.
Senator Luna has been a leader in civic activities in Bexar County. As a founder of MALDEF, (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund) he wrote the articles of incorporation, later serving four terms as board chair of the national group. In recognition of his work on public school finance legislation, MALDEF honored him with its national and state premier Award for Extraordinary Service in 1991.
Luna served as chair of the Inman Christian Center Board of Directors, the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Board of Directors, United Way Board of Directors, and the project SER National Board of Directors. He received awards for service from Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the University of Texas at San Antonio Hispanic Research Center, and the 1998 ERNIE AWARD from the Avenida Guadalupe Association. Senator Luna was active in the Mexican American Bar Association and the Westside Lions Club.
During his tenure in the Texas Legislature, Luna was a champion of the people and a voice that was unwavering in breaking down barriers for Texas' less fortunate citizens. In the Texas House, he focused on education and public school finance. He served on the Public Education Committee as vice-chair, the Select Joint Committee on Education, the Joint Committee on High School Dropouts, and the conference committee on Senate Bill 351 in1991, the public school finance bill. The Texas State Teachers Association gave him its 1992 Friend of Education Award.
As a Texas State Senator, Luna continued his goal of providing access to services for the people of Texas. In his first session in the Senate, he saw the creation of the downtown campus of University of Texas at San Antonio. In 1995, Luna influenced the state's new education code while serving on the conference committee for Senate Bill 1. In 1997, Senator Luna served as chair of the Senate Hispanic Caucus and led the opposition to private school vouchers paid for with public tax money. After surgery in 1999 and from his hospital bed, Luna wrote a letter to Lt. Governor Rick Perry requesting 24-hours notice if the school voucher legislation was to be debated on the floor of the Senate so that he could attend the day's session. The legislation was never brought to the Senate floor.
Luna is survived by his wife, Helen; their four children, Leticia Ann Luna, Delores Luna Ellis, Gerard Luna, and Gregory Val Luna; and their grandchildren, Adriana Stern Luna, Sara Luna Ellis, and Sophia Ann Ellis.