A new mural will honor members of the American GI Forum of San Marcos Men’s Chapter — founder Augustin Lucio Jr., lifetime member Celestino Mendez Jr., and Ruben Ruiz Sr., AGIF Texas State Chairman, 1966-68. Above, a rendering of the mural. Image courtesy of American GI Forum of San Marcos Men’s Chapter
New mural to honor San Marcos AGIF Tejano Legends
A new community mural will honor members of the American GI Forum of San Marcos Men’s Chapter.
The mural painting will honor the founders of the SMGIF Men’s Chapter — founder Augustin Lucio Jr., lifetime member Celestino Mendez Jr., and Ruben Ruiz Sr., AGIF Texas State Chairman, 1966-68.
“The mural dedication will serve as a crucial commemoration of our collective history, recognizing outstanding individuals that stood before us in the fight to make San Marcos a more culturally diverse community and to improve conditions for all citizens,” the SMGIF Men’s Chapter said. “All the leaders were Mexican-Americans who assumed higher leadership positions in San Marcos. More importantly, throughout their proactive service in the SMGIF, these Tejano leaders contributed to the evolution of our well-known organization in the San Marcos community, making a positive impact in the daily lives of citizens.”
SMGIF Men’s Chapter added that the organization has addressed various issues in the community, including education, college scholarships, public service, voter registration and redistricting during its lengthy history. “All while providing the vital impetus for Hispanic involvement in multiple areas of community service,” SMGIF Men’s Chapter said.
The mural is partially funded by the City of San Marcos, Arts Commission Community Art & Diversity Grant. Dayann Pazmino, a community-based visual artist who previously worked with Mano Amiga as its Community Arts and Immigrant Rights Coordinator, is painting the mural. Pazmino’s work can be seen on the south wall of the QC Meat Market on State Highway 123.
SMGIF Men’s Chapter will honor its SMGIF Tejano Legends on Saturday, Dec. 10 with a ceremony at 415 South Mitchell St. at 11 a.m.
About the honorees
Augustin Lucio grew up in a farming community outside San Marcos. He dropped out of school in the 10th grade and joined the U.S. Army nearly a year before the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
Lucio was sent to Northern Ireland in October 1943 and stormed the beach at Normandy on D-Day. He also fought in the Battle of the Bulge. SMGIF said he’s the most decorated veteran from Hays County.
Lucio was an active member of the community. He was elected to the San Marcos school board for multiple non-consecutive terms, where he served for a total of 19 years. Lucio founded the San Marcos chapter of the American GI Forum in 1948, later establishing the first San Marcos GI Forum scholarships for graduating students.
Lucio led a boycott of all San Marcos public schools in protest of unfair treatment of the local Latin community in 1972, citing a lack of Hispanic teachers, SMGIF said. San Marcos Consolidated ISD later named the high school library in his honor.
Celestino Mendez Jr.
Celestino Mendez Jr. was born and raised in the San Marcos area, where he attended the “Mexican School.”
Mendez’s studies at Texas State were interrupted by the draft during the Korean War years. He later helped elect some of the first minority public officials in the city, SMGIF said.
He was the first Mexican-American elected to the San Marcos school board in 1961 and was elected school board president in 1964. Mendez also served numerous terms as a Commander of the local GI forum chapter and led the chapter’s campaign in 1992 to file a civil action lawsuit against SMCISD for single-member districts on the school board. The chapter won the judgment.
Ruben Ruiz, Sr.
Ruben Ruiz, Sr. was an active member of the American GI Forum of San Marcos. He is the only member of the GI Forum San Marcos chapter to be elected to the Texas State chairman of the American GI Forum.
Ruiz was involved in politics within the San Marcos community, SMGIF said. He was the first Hispanic American to be elected to local government in the 1950s, SMGIF stated, adding that he was elected to San Marcos City Council. He was later elected to the Hays County Commissioners Court.