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December 3, 2023
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Washington, DC - In a heartfelt tribute, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) commemorates the life and legacy of Trini Garza, a true Latino trailblazer and constant advocate for the advancement of his community. Born on September 22, 1931, in Stockdale, Texas, to Gabriel and Carmen Garza, Trini's journey epitomizes resilience, determination, and an unshakeable commitment to service.

"LULAC celebrates un gran campéon who never gave up as he fearlessly overcame barriers and opened new doors all his life for Latinos," says Domingo Garcia, LULAC national president. "My personal recollection of Trini was his positive outlook always at everything he confronted. From being the first Latino on the Dallas school board to undertaking some of the most challenging presidential appointments, nothing fazed him. He was and will continue to inspire me, and many others blessed to know him of what we as Latinos can achieve. Young people today will do well to learn about Trini Garza and follow his example," adds Garcia.

Trini's early life was marked by hardship, losing his mother at the tender age of 12 and his father five years later, leaving him as the oldest responsible for caring for his two younger sisters and brother. Despite these challenges, Trini excelled academically, completing elementary school as Valedictorian and later graduating from Floresville High School.

After serving in the Navy during the Korean War, receiving the National Defense Service Medal, and earning the title of Boxing Champion on his ship, Trini returned to San Antonio. He continued his education there and met his future wife, Benilde Mendoza, at a United Methodist Young Adult mixer. The couple married, and Trini transferred to Texas A&M, earning his degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1961. Trini's commitment to education and community service was evident throughout his life. He began his professional career with LTV Corp. in Dallas while remaining active in the United Methodist Church and the Dallas community. In 1969, he was appointed to the Dallas Independent School District, making history as the first Hispanic to serve on the Board of Trustees.

“Trini and his wife were the first LULAC leaders to welcome me to Dallas when I arrived 50-years ago beginning a lifelong friendship,” says Hector Flores, LULAC past national president. “Trini epitomized the very best of our community; well-spoken, very educated, and committed to uplifting academic opportunities for Latino youths. We were extremely fortunate to have Trini as a prominent elected and appointed Latino advocate. Many of us stand on the shoulders of leaders like Trini Garza. His legacy will endure for generations thanks to his tireless contributions to our community.”

Beyond his groundbreaking role in education, Trini and Benilde opened Ranchero Restaurant in West Dallas around 1972, showcasing a menu of authentic Mexican cuisine. Their venture expanded, and in 1983, they introduced Beef Fajitas and Homemade Pork Tamales at the State Fair of Texas, celebrating their 40th anniversary this year. Trini's dedication extended to national service when President Jimmy Carter appointed him as the Regional Director of ACTION. In 1991, he was elected to the DISD School Board for a second time, resigning in 1994 to accept President Bill Clinton's appointment as Deputy Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Education.

In 2010, Trini's legacy was further immortalized by naming the Trinidad Garza Early College High School at Mountain View College. His impact on students and education will resonate for generations. Trini served on numerous boards and commissions, leaving an indelible mark on organizations like LULAC, Tejano Democrats of Texas, and the Greater Dallas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Trini Garza's remarkable life, marked by many accolades, awards, and a profound commitment to family, community, and education, leaves an enduring legacy. As he joins the ranks of the departed, Trini is survived by family members who will carry forward his torch of service, embodying the spirit of a man who dedicated his life to making a difference.



The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation's largest and oldest Hispanic civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC's programs, services, and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting the critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit https://lulac.org/