Mayor Hector Garcia, who was first elected to the Watauga city council in the 1980s, died early Friday morning.
He was 78.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
His wife, Wendy Garcia said her husband died of complications from pneumonia, describing how Mr. Garcia had been cancer-free for 6 years. Mr. Garcia was a dialysis patient, and he was getting better before contracting pneumonia.
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“He was an amazing, kind-hearted man and husband who always liked helping others,” she said.
Mr. Garcia began volunteering for the Northeast Tarrant County city in 1979 where he served as co-chair of Watauga’s first charter commission.
He was elected to the city council in 1980 and served until 1986. Then, in 1994 he chaired the Zoning Board of Adjustment, and was then elected mayor in 1995 and served until 2002.
Mr. Garcia was elected for a second time as mayor in 2013 and served until his death.
Councilman Hal Gerhardt said he decided to get involved in city politics because of Mr. Garcia.
“He literally lived and breathed Watauga,” Gerhardt said.
“He has definitely been my mentor and adviser in explaining how the city works,” Gerhardt said.
Gerhardt said there is one year left on Mr. Garcia’s term and that an election will be held in May for the mayor’s seat.
Mr. Garcia was instrumental in bringing new businesses and parks to Watauga.
Mr. Garcia also served on the Mayors Council of Tarrant County, and was chair in 1999.
“He was very friendly and outgoing. Everybody knew Hector,” Gerhardt said.
Mr. Garcia was born on July 30, 1939 in Fort Worth.
He served in the U.S. Air Force for 10 years beginning in 1958. Mr. Garcia was stationed in Korea, England, Turkey and the United States.
Wendy Garcia said she met her husband when he was stationed in England.
They returned to the United States, and Mr. Garcia went to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia and served in Korea and Vietnam, before they moved to Watauga in 1968, where they raised their two children.
He worked for General Dynamics — now Lockheed Martin — as an aircraft assembler and supervisor, and after he received his associate degree in applied sciences specializing in aviation technology, Mr. Garcia moved to the engineering and planning department where he retired after 35 years of service.
Mr. Garcia was also an active Mason and Shriner, Wendy Garcia said.
He loved music and played the steel guitar, bass and fiddle, she said.
Mr. Garcia’s daughter, Audra Collins, said her father was always optimistic and taught his children to see the good in life.
“He was the most compassionate and supportive father. Even in the worst of times, he would make us smile and laugh and show us there was always a silver lining,” Collins said.
Survivors include: His wife and daughter; son Carl Garcia; grandson Sebastian Collins; sister Rosaura Gonzales; and brother Carlos Garcia.