Today, the Austin ISD family mourns the loss of one of its greatest community leaders and public servants, Gustavo L. "Gus" Garcia. Garcia passed away Dec. 16, surrounded by family and friends.
In 2007, AISD named Gus Garcia Middle School after him for his lifetime commitment to public education. In 2014, the East Austin campus became the all-boys Gus Garcia Young Men’s Leadership Academy.
“Our school is so proud to be named after Gus Garcia,” said Principal Sterlin McGruder. “He was a firm believer that your ZIP code does not determine your future.”
Superintendent Paul Cruz remembered Garcia for his dedication to his family and to the students throughout the district.
"He kept family at the forefront, but he gave so much of himself," said Cruz today at Garcia YMLA. “There is always a sense of pride when I look at this school. We always look to the past, to our leaders, for the reasons why we stand here today. It is through their leadership and their work that we stand here today. Leadership—that’s truly what Mr. Garcia demonstrated.”
At Cruz's direction, all schools within the district will lower their flags to half-staff for the rest of the week in honor of Garcia.
The Austin Ed Fund has set up a donation page in Garcia's memory. Donations will directly support the students, staff and programming at Garcia YMLA. Donations may be made online at tinyurl.com/guslgarcia.
Lifetime of Leadership
In 1972, Gus Garcia was elected to the Austin ISD Board of Trustees, becoming the first Hispanic trustee to serve on the board. He served as board president from 1977 to 1978.
As an AISD board member, Garcia encouraged the district to hire more Hispanic and African-American teachers and administrators, and to award more school construction projects to minority contractors. He also worked on multiple initiatives to increase family involvement and community development within the city.
After serving on the board, Garcia began his work with the Austin City Council and was elected mayor in November 2001, becoming the city's first elected Hispanic mayor.