SAN BENITO — Justice of the Peace Guadalupe Ayala, who had battled cancer, has died.

The San Benito High School graduate, Marine Corps veteran and former San Benito police officer died Saturday afternoon, Police Chief Michael Galvan said yesterday.

Galvan said Ayala started in the department as a dispatcher, became a police officer and then decided to run for justice of the peace while battling cancer.

“He was an inspiration to all,” Galvan said.

“Through all these obstacles, he never settled; he always wanted to be better. He just kept going and going and nothing was going to stop him.

“And that should be a model for everybody. You should never just settle; you should always try to be better.”

Ayala defeated incumbent Manuel Flores Jr. in a runoff election for justice of the peace in 2014. He was sworn in on Jan. 1, 2015.

At the time, he told a reporter, “The first thing is I want to thank the Lord.”

His term in office was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2018.

Ayala’s precinct ranged from El Ranchito to Arroyo City, from Rangerville Road to Los Fresnos and from parts of Harlingen to Rio Hondo and San Benito.

Funeral arrangements are pending and will be under the direction of San Benito Funeral Home.