Memorial services held for State Senator Mario Gallegos in Austin


Escorted by state troopers and firefighters, Sen. Gallegos would be welcomed back to his beloved Senate chamber at the State Capitol in Austin one final time. As family and colleagues gathered for the memorial service, they remember first and foremost his passion for Harris County's Latino community.

"No matter what challenges he was personally facing, he never gave up on his community, he never turned his back on us, and most of all, he never forgot where he came from and who got him there," said State Rep Carol Alvarado (D) - Houston.

Born in 1950, Gallegos joined the Houston Fire Department at a young age, moving on to politics after 22 years as a firefighter. And he could always be counted on to be their voice in Austin.

"When we needed to get our issues done, that's the gentleman we came to. We came to our brother," said Richard Gomez with the Houston Firefighters Union.

On Friday afternoon, politicians from both sides of the aisle, including Governor Rick Perry, remembered this staunch supporter of liberal issues.

"Mario is in a better place, he's in the arms of his father, he's no longer sick, no longer in pain, he's where he can talk for as long as he wants to, and he's where there is no voter ID," said State Sen. John Whitmire (D) - Houston.

But it wasn't about his voting record or issues they disagreed on, it was about a man who never forgot his true supporters in Houston.

"You can't measure everything from a public official from what just happens in this wonderful pink dome. You have to really see people with their constituents that they love and represent. And Mario was adored," said State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D) - San Antonio.

Many said they cannot imagine the next session starting without Sen. Gallegos.

Here in Houston, there was a show of respect Friday from the Houston Fire Department as well. Flags are flying at half-staff at all HFD fire stations on behalf of Gallegos.

Before he was elected to the Senate, he spent 22 years as a Houston firefighter. He retired as a captain.

Memorial services in Houston start on Sunday with a visitation and rosary at the University of Houston's Cullen Performance Hall starting at 4pm. That will be followed by a funeral mass which will be celebrated on Monday at the Sacred Heart Co-Cathedral at 9:30am.

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