SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — He guided the Island through perhaps its greatest tragedy in recent memory.
This year, city of South Padre Island Municipal Court Presiding Judge Edmund K. Cyganiewicz is one of 49 Valley residents to be inducted into the Rio Grande Valley Walk of Fame.
Cyganiewicz said it was an honor to be recognized and remembered for everything he’s done.
“I love South Padre Island. That’s my home,” Cyganiewicz said with great pride. “I think it’s important to be involved in your community.”
Cyganiewicz’s passion for his community was shown through his involvement on numerous boards and committees in the area.
Over a nearly 20-year span, he was elected to six consecutive terms as alderman of South Padre Island and elected to three consecutive terms as mayor of the city.
“I think for most people who look back and remember my name it would be, I’m trying to be humble, but what they tell me is my leadership during probably the biggest tragedy that South Padre has ever experienced,” Cyganiewicz said.
That tragedy happened in 2001 when eight people were killed after slabs of the Queen Isabella Causeway collapsed into the Laguna Madre after it was struck by barges loaded with steel.
Cyganiewicz’s wife, Elizabeth Vidaurri, discussed her husband’s leadership during the time of the causeway collapse.
She said he worked 24/7 on many immediate logistical problems such as getting trapped visitors and residents whatever they needed until he could get them off the Island.
“I recall the hysteria of our visitors realizing they could not return rental cars or afford motel housing, and how calm his voice was as he reassured them and residents that together we would survive the aftermath of the trauma that had just stolen so many lives,” she said.
Cyganiewicz said he also feels very proud of his work with the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center.
“I was involved with the Birding and Nature Center since it started and I’m very proud of some of the land we set aside for it,” he explained. “I just wanted to contribute to the community that I live in and really love.”
CAMERON COUNTY 2019 RGV WALK OF FAME INDUCTEES
CITY OF HARLINGEN — William M. Reagan
HARLINGEN CHAMBER — Bryan E. Burke
CITY OF LOS FRESNOS — Simon Vega
CITY OF PORT ISABEL — Ernestina Barrera
TOWN OF RANCHO VIEJO — James “Jim” Tipton
CITY OF SAN BENITO — Victor M. Gonzalez Jr.
Dr. Enriqueta Lopez Ramos
SAN BENITO CHAMEBER — Richard (Dick) Henry Welch
CITY OF SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — Edmund K. Cyganiewicz
SOUTH PADRE ISLAND CHAMBER — Doyle F. Wells III