CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – In a celebration of what would have been Dr. Hector P. Garcia’s 103rd birthday, hundreds of community members attended the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Memorial Foundation luncheon on Jan. 17 at the American Bank Center. Garcia, a medical doctor during World War II and long-time Corpus Christi resident, founded the American GI Forum in 1948 to help Mexican-American veterans fight for social justice, medical benefits and equal access to education.
At the luncheon, Cecilia Garcia Akers, Dr. Garcia’s daughter, gave an update on several current projects of the Garcia Memorial Foundation, including scholarship awards for local veterans and continuation of the digitization of more than 500-linear feet of Dr. Garcia’s most important documents. The digitization project is overseen by the Mary and Jeff Bell Library at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, in conjunction with History Associates Inc.
During the luncheon, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Interim President and CEO, Dr. Kelly Quintanilla, was presented with the Garcia Memorial Foundation Legacy Award for supporting the mission of the foundation, which includes “ensuring equal rights and access to opportunity for all.”
“Working with Cecilia and her husband, Jim, has been a blessing. Their passion, drive and tireless energy is inspiring,” said Quintanilla. “Of course, this award is a team effort which would not have been possible without Dr. Catherine Rudowsky, Bell Library Director, and Ann Hodges, Bell Library Special Collections Librarian and University Archivist. Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is honored to be home of the Dr. Garcia papers, and we are dedicated to sharing his inspiring story with the world.”
Legendary TV celebrity and film actor, Tony Plana, was the event’s keynote speaker, and the Islander Army ROTC presented colors during the lunch.
The Garcia Foundation recently opened the Dr. Hector P. Garcia Memorial Family Health Center. The state-of-the art primary care health facility officially opened for business on Jan. 16 and is located on the grounds of CHRISTUS Spohn Hospital – Memorial. It offers family health services including specialty clinics, laboratory and imaging services, a pharmacy and a quick-care clinic. The public is invited to a ribbon cutting and tour of the Garcia Memorial Family Health Center at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4.
To learn more about the Island University’s support of Dr. Garcia’s legacy, go to http://hectorpgarcia.tamucc.edu/.