Cameron County has lost a force for good in the community with the death of retired longtime county clerk and Brownsville native Aurora de la Garza on Nov. 6 from COVID-19 complications.
County Judge Eddie Trevino Jr., who had known de la Garza for decades, described her as a “very, very special lady” and a matriarch of the community. De la Garza was a friend of the Trevino family and became district clerk while he was away at law school. Trevino said he began becoming acquainted with her against the backdrop of courthouse politics and legal/judicial culture.
“I really got to know her much better when I got on the city commission and later became mayor,” he said. “I started working with her on programs and projects of a bi-national nature. She was very active in promoting the relationship between Brownsville and Matamoros, and I got to work with her on a number of different projects while mayor. I already knew her well, but got to know her even more outside the political spectrum by working on community projects. She was just a wonderful lady.”
A graduate of Brownsville High School, de la Garza studied education at Pan American College before beginning her career as an educator with the Brownsville Independent School District, teaching at Villa Nueva and Victoria Heights elementary schools between 1966 and 1971. She later became a juvenile probation officer and from 1973 to 1980 served as assistant juvenile probation director, focused on helping at-risk children and promoting education.
De la Garza was appointed county district clerk in 1980 and was reelected for eight more terms, totaling 34 years in office. She was named District Clerk of the Year for the State of Texas in 1998.
De la Garza in 2003 received the Ohtli Awarded from the Mexican government for her efforts to help underprivileged children in Brownsville and Matamoros. She retired in 2014, after which the Cameron County Annex Building in San Benito was renamed for her and longtime county clerk Joe Rivera.
Trevino said de la Garza was in touch frequently through the last several months of the pandemic, sharing news or helpful ideas, and that he still has the last text message she sent to him.
“It was a very positive message from her, encouraging me and supporting what we were doing,” he said. “My condolences and my prayers go out to her family on their loss and to the entire community, because she was one in a million. There was just nobody else like her. … She cared about the community and did everything she could to help others.”
Trevino said it’s just another reminder that life is short and everyone should cherish friends and family while they live.
“We can’t take them for granted and so we need to let them know that we care, that we love them,” he said. “In this case, we absolutely will miss Aurora way beyond what words can define.”