Robstown’s Memorial City Park will be getting a new name after city council members approved changing it to honor a longtime city official who passed away nearly seven years ago after a battle with cancer.
The council on Monday unanimously approved renaming the park, located between Avenue A and Upshaw Boulevard, to the Ruben V. Garza Sr. Memorial Park, after the former Mayor Pro Tem and city council member. Garza served on the council for three terms — from 1969-71, 1974-76 and 2001-04 — and also held positions on the Robstown Improvement Development Corp. and Robstown Industrial Development Corp.
He played a pivotal role in the 1970 construction of the American G.I. Forum Village No. 1 and 2, Mayor Rodrigo Ramon said, and was very active in a number of civic and community organizations up until his death.
"I learned a lot from him in the short time that we were together,” Ramon said.
In a letter written to the council on behalf of the family, Ruben Garza’s daughter, Sylvia Bellfield, wrote about the children’s desire to see their father’s commitment and dedication to the city of Robstown honored in some way.
Since Garza was a proud U.S. Army veteran who was wounded in combat during the Korean War, Bellfield said Memorial City Park seemed like a logical place to look at.
“Not only was he a wonderful father, but a loving, caring, unselfish, positive public servant of Robstown,” Bellfield wrote. “He was passionate about his vision for Robstown and served the community with pride.”
When the time came to take a vote, Mayor Pro Tem Elias Vasquez jumped at the chance to recognize Garza’s legacy during his time on the council.
“It would be an honor for me to make this motion,” Vasquez said. “He was an example for me before I ever thought about entering public office.”
Council Member Sybil Tipton said Garza’s persistence at finding solutions to any problem was one thing she would always remember about him.
“He was like a dog with a bone, baby — he was not going to stop until he got what he wanted,” she said.
Garza’s eldest child, Rosa Linda Silva, agreed with Tipton’s statement, adding that persistence was ingrained in his children from an early age. The Garza family has been working since his death in December 2004 to honor their father’s legacy, having previously sought a name change for a street in Robstown after the elder Garza.
“I’m elated — my dad was a part of Robstown forever. He was born and raised here and he always worked hard for others,” Silva said.
Silva said she believed her father would be honored by the council’s decision, albeit a little reluctantly.
“He would be very humble. He wasn’t the type who was looking for rewards,” she said.
City officials said they will look at the construction of a memorial at the park to honor Garza to coincide with the name change.
Council members Abel Tamez and Arlene Rodriguez were not present at Monday's meeting.