Vidal M. Treviño

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Vidal Manuel Treviño
Texas State Representative for District 80 (Webb County)
In office
1961–1963
Preceded by Oscar M. Laurel
Succeeded by Honoré Ligarde (District 69)
Personal details
Born

(1929-06-10)June 10, 1929
Sabinas Hidalgo

Nuevo Leon, Mexico
Died December 30, 2006(2006-12-30) (aged 77)
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lucila Treviño Treviño (married 1953-his death)
Relations Ramón H. Dovalina (cousin)
Children

David Vidal Treviño, Sr.

Nelda, Christina, Daniel, and Roberto Treviño
Residence Laredo, Webb County, Texas
Alma mater

Martin High School

Texas A&M University-Kingsville
Occupation

School superintendent

Educator
Religion Roman Catholic

Vidal Manuel Treviño (June 10, 1929 – December 30, 2006) was a longtime educator and a Democratic political powerhouse in Laredo, Texas, who served as the Laredo Independent School District (LISD) superintendent between 1973 and 1995. He also served a term in the Texas House of Representatives from then District 80 from 1961-1963.

Early years, education, and family[edit]

Treviño was born in Sabinas Hidalgo, Nuevo León, Mexico, to Rufino Treviño and the former Marie de Jesus Villarreal. However, he grew up in heavily Hispanic Laredo, the seat of Webb County in south Texas, where his parents had moved when they first married. His mother traveled to Mexico for his birth, but the couple promptly returned to Laredo. He attended Laredo public schools and graduated from Martin High School. He obtained bachelor's and master's degrees in education from Texas A&I University in Kingsville. In 2001, Texas A&M International University in Laredo awarded Treviño an honorary doctorate.

Treviño served in the United States Army from 1951 to 1952 during the Korean War.

In Kingsville, Vidal Treviño met his future wife, Lucila "Chila" Treviño (September 30, 1930–February 24, 2011); her maiden name was also Treviño. Lucila graduated in 1948 from King High School in Kingsville and in 1952 from Texas A&I. She began teaching the first grade in Alice, Texas, while Vidal was at war. The couple married in 1953 and moved to Laredo, where she continued her teaching career at, first, Leyendecker Elementary School and then M.S. Ryan, where she remained on the faculty for thirty-nine years. She was a member of the Wednesday Lunch Club and the Society of Martha Washington.[1] The couple had five children: David Vidal Trevino, Sr. (wife Marissa), Nelda, Christina Dancause (husband Mike), Daniel W. (wife Lynette), and Roberto W. Treviño.[1]

Career in education[edit]

Treviño began his 46-year career in education as a teacher at Central Elementary School in downtown Laredo. He was then named principal of L. J. Christen Middle School. He moved to the main office to become director of federal projects. He was thereafter the assistant to Superintendent J. W. Nixon. When Nixon retired, Treviño began his 22-year tenure as superintendent.

Joaquin Gonzalez Cigarroa, a Laredo physician who served at one time on the LISD board, said that Laredo schools improved under Treviño's leadership. Cigarroa told the Laredo Morning Times that Treviño "understood and valued the importance of education. He did much to improve curriculum and facilities. Childhood development and pre-kindergarten schooling were his ideas. He was the first to recognize the educational needs of south Laredo."

Treviño started the F.S. Lara Academy, an alternative school, to provide an outlet for those pupils who reject traditional instruction. And he launched a magnet school specializing in the fine arts. He also instituted a curriculum entitled "The Use, Misuse, and Abuse of Drugs and Narcotics."

The patriotic organization Freedoms Foundation of Valley Forge, Pennsylvania once awarded Treviño with its "American Educator's Medal". He was once selected as one of the top five superintendents in the state by the Texas Association of School Boards.

After his retirement as superintendent, Treviño was named senior administrator of the D.D. Hachar Trust, a private scholarship fund channeled through the Laredo National Bank. During Treviño's tenure, 1995–2004, the trust gave Webb County students some $10 million in assistance.

Treviño was a cousin of another Laredo educator, Ramón H. Dovalina, the president of Laredo Community College from 1995–2007.

Political career[edit]

Treviño succeeded Laredo attorney Oscar M. Laurel in the state House. He wanted to serve additional terms but instead returned to the LISD system for financial reasons. He was elected to the legislature for a single term in 1960.

Treviño was an influential member of the former Independent Club, the dominant faction from the 1940s to the 1960s within the Democratic Party in Webb and surrounding counties. Powerbrokers within the circle included Sheriff J. C. Martin, Sr. (1886–1957), Mayor Jose C. "Pepe" Martin, Jr., State Representative Honoré Ligarde (Martin, Jr.'s brother-in-law), District Attorney Philip Kazen, and former U.S. Representative Abraham "Chic" Kazen. In time, the club weakened, as newcomers moved into the community, and members quarreled among themselves. In 1978, an Italian American businessman, Aldo Tatangelo, finally broke the power of the Independent Club with his election as a three-term "reform" mayor.

Former Webb County Judge Mercurio J. "Merc" Martinez, Jr., a member of the Laredo Community College board of trustees, noted that Treviño developed strong political ties because the "Old Party" through "Pepe" Martin had direct access to the White House. Martinez told the Laredo Morning Times that Treviño "had the ability to listen to you, but also to convince you eventually to come over to his side."

U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Treviño to the National Advisory Committee for the Handicapped.

Treviño's death and legacy[edit]

Treviño was involved in many civic activities: he was once named "Man of the Year" by the Laredo Morning Times and "Boss of the Year" by the Laredo Jaycees. He was a member of the board of directors of Laredo Border Olympics. He was a strong supporter of the Boy Scouts of America. He was the first recipient of the "Lifetime Achievement Award" given by the League of United Latin American Citizens. He was also active in the Laredo George Washington Birthday Celebration held annually in February. He preferred spending his spare time with his family.

Treviño had been ill for several months when he died at the family home from diabetes and congestive heart failure.

Mourners packed the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church on January 2, 2007, to pay final respects. Monsignor Stanley Sliwiak officiated at the funeral mass. In a eulogy, Treviño's son, David Vidal Treviño, Sr. (born 1958), said that his father taught him that "the only requirement in overcoming professional jealousy was in doing the very best you know how to do." David Treviño added that his father "made hard decisions and embodied the true spirit of leadership. His style pushed everyone to do more, to excel, and to do it better." He went on to add that "when someone had something unkind or false to say about Dad, I argued with him that he needed to respond because in the absence of truth, people might believe the lies that were being said about him. But he chose to keep quiet and explained to me that he had lived his life in such a manner so that anyone who really knew him would not believe it." About politics, David Treviño mentioned that his father "didn’t regret political differences with those friends he respected, but he did regret that their philosophies sometimes kept them apart."

Grave of Vidal M. Treviño at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Laredo, Texas; enlarge to read inscription

In closing, David Trevino added "the most important thing I learned from Dad is that there is absolutely nothing more important in life than loyalty to God, family, and friends . . . in that order." David Trevino also mentioned that when his sister, Nelda Trevino (born 1960), asked their father years ago how he wanted to be remembered, their father responded by showing three fingers . . . "a good husband, a good father, and a good friend."

Amber Milton Yeary, II (born 1938), a Laredo businessman, civic leader, Southern Baptist layman, and a former 25-year LISD board member, described his friend Treviño as "a man of integrity and character with a passion for his life's work, totally dedicated to the children and his community. We traveled, argued, and agreed together. It will be a long time before we know another one like Vidal Treviño."

Treviño is interred in the Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Laredo. He is honored through the naming of the Vidal M. Treviño School of Communications and Fine Arts magnet school on Victoria Street in downtown Laredo. In 2015, the school moved to the campus next to J. W. Nixon High School in Laredo at the former site of the First Baptist Church.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Lucila "Chila" Trevino obituary, Laredo Morning Times, February 27, 2011, p. 13A
  • Website of the "Vidal M. Trevino School of Communications and Fine Arts"
Preceded by
Oscar M. Laurel
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from District 80 (Laredo)

1961–1963
Succeeded by
Honoré Ligarde