By DAVID LOPEZ
Santiago Raul “La Rola” Garcia, Jr. passed away Tuesday morning at his San Benito home at the age of 72.
A well-known community member, Garcia was most known for his long career of 48 years in law enforcement, especially as Chief of the San Benito CISD Police. He also worked for the Cameron County Sheriff’s Department, the Harlingen Police Department, and Santa Rosa ISD PD.
He is survived by his wife Mary Garcia and his daughter Roxanne Hurtado. Garcia is also the father of former San Benito City elected official and current school board trustee candidate Jack Garcia and is the brother of current San Benito CISD Trustee Mary Lou “M.L.” Garcia.
Jack Garcia shared his thoughts concerning the passing of his father.
“I want to personally thank all of you all for your condolences and kind words regarding my father. I and many of you will hold on to cherished memories. Those that knew him well, knew that laughter was always a big part of his DNA. I feel I will miss that the most! Summarizing his life, my father always tried to keep things simple and realistic. I think back to his commitment to family, career, and country,” he said.
A Vietnam War veteran, the elder Garcia grew up in the neighborhood by Fred Booth Elementary, the oldest of eight siblings, before leaving San Benito High School in 1967 to join the Marine Corps immediately after.
According to Jack Garcia, Santiago fought in the Battle of Hue in 1968. In 1969, he escorted Edinburg’s Dolia Gonzalez (mother of Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Alfredo “Freddy” Gonzalez) to Washington D.C., representing a member of his unit from the Battle of Hue.
After he was wounded during deployment, Garcia returned to the Valley, obtaining his Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Pan American University.
“He was an overall well-liked man, respected by the community,” said M.L. Garcia. “You could find him at Las Cazuelas every morning,” she said.
Editor’s note: This article has been edited for length. To read the full story, click here or make sure to grab a copy of the July 10-16, 2020 issue of the NEWS.