Eligio “Kika” de la Garza dead at 89

Former longtime Valley Congressman Eligio “Kika” de la Garza died Monday, according to members of de la Garza’s family.

Former longtime Valley Congressman Eligio “Kika” de la Garza passed away Monday, according to members of de la Garza’s family.

A former U.S. Representative for more than 30 years, De la Garza was 89 years old at the time of his death.

De la Garza, born in Mercedes and a longtime resident of Mission, was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1964, and left at the end of 1996.

In a prepared statement current District 15 Congressional Representative Vicente Gonzalez reflected on de la Garza’s passing.

“I was saddened to learn of the passing of former Congressman Kika de la Garza, who represented the people of the 15th District of Texas with distinction and honor. The Rio Grande Valley has lost a statesman, public servant, husband, father, grandfather and friend, but his legacy will live on,” Gonzalez’s statement reads. “It is a privilege to follow in the footsteps of a man who empowered our rural areas and lifted up the Hispanic community. Lorena and I offer our most sincere condolences to his wife, Lucille, their children, and grandchildren at this difficult time.”

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, also released a statement on the longtime public servant’s death.

“Kika was a dear friend of mine, and I speak for many when I say that Texas has lost a great leader today. I served on the House Committee of Agriculture for eight years, and I would often look up to the great portrait of former Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Kika de la Garza, as an example of someone who has given back so much to the agricultural communities across the nation. This afternoon, I spoke with his wife, Lucille, to express my sincerest condolences to her and her family in this difficult moment.”

U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, called de la Garza an inspiration.

“I am extremely saddened by the loss of my friend, Congressman Kika de la Garza. Kika was an inspiration to South Texans and led the charge of building a better agricultural industry for our nation during his time as chairman of the Agriculture Committee. As an undergraduate student at Georgetown University, I had the privilege of serving as an intern for Congressman de la Garza – an experience that played a major role in my decision to run for Congress. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time. He will be missed.”