1991 Recipient of the Arthur T. Potts Award
Eligio ‘Kika’ de la Garza
Eligio ‘Kika’ deJa Garza was born in 192710 Mercedes, Texas but grew up in Mission, Texas his parents home. During his youth ‘Kika’ de Ia Garza like many boys spent his after school, and summer vacation time working the many Lower Rio Grande Valley cotton and vegetable fields. In 1945 ‘Kika’ enlisted in the U.S. Navy but since WWII ended that same year he was honorably discharged and returned to graduate from Mission high school in 1947. In 1952, ‘Kika’ de Ia Garza graduated with an LLB degree from St. Mary’s University law school in San Antonio, TX., passed the State Bar of Texas Dec. 1951, and earned a Doctor of Jurisprudence from St. Mary’s May, 1970. Also, he graduated from the U.S. Army’s artillery school, taught artillery training in the U.S. while serving during the Korean conflict, 1951 to 1952, and in 1952 became a practicing attorney with the McAllen law firm of Rankin, Kern & Martinez. In 1953, ‘Kika’ de Ia Garza married the former Lucille Alamia and they have three children: Jorge, Michael, and Angela.
‘Kika’ de Ia Garza began his public service career in 1953 as a Texas State House Congressman representing the 111th district which includes all of Hidalgo, County Place 3. Rep. de Ia Garza served six consecutive two-year terms in the Texas State House, only leaving in 1964 to begin his representative career with the 89th U.S. Congress. Congressman ‘Kika’ de Ia Garza has represented the 15th U.S. Congressional District which includes: Atascosa, Brooks, Duval, Frio, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Karnes, La Salle, Live Oak, McMullen, San Patricio, Starr, Wilson, Zapata and parts of Gonzales and Nueces counties and he will be serving his 14th consecutive term with the 102nd U.S. Congress in January 1991. Rep. de Ia Garza has been a member of the House Agriculture Committee during his entire House service and has served as Chairman of this committee since January 1981, a position he was re-elected to for 1991. Rep. de Ia Garza’s activities in the U.S. House have ranged from committee policy decisions in agriculture, to areas including educational promotional activities through bilingual education, improved trade relations between developing and developed countries, and to protecting the U.S. fishing industry. During his U.S. House service Rep. de Ia Garza’s record has included active promotion of legislation to protect and improve farm and rural economies through crop stabilization programs, expanded agricultural export trade, rural development, soil conservation, and agricultural credit. Rep. de Ia Garza has been especially active in promoting the maintenance of agricultural research programs, of which, the Rio Grande Valley can be particularly grateful to Rep. de Ia Garza for staunchly supporting the U.S.D.A.-Agrlcultural Research Service, Subtroplcai Agricultural Research laboratory in Weslaco, Texas. As Chairman of the U.S. House subcommittee on Agricultural Department Operations, Research and Foreign Agriculture form 1967 to 1979, ‘Kika’ de Ia Garza played a key role in drafting more stringent laws dealing with pesticide use and safety, and animal health. Rep. de Ia Garza has also been prominent in efforts to establish and maintain a stabilization program for U.S. sugar growers and has kept a close and determined interest in assuring programs which protected major agricultural areas from invasions by costly and destructive foreign insect pests like the fruit fly. Prior to Rep. de Ia Garza’s Chairmanship of the full House Agriculture Committee, he served on committees with direct influence on the merchant marine, fisheries, wildlife, conservation, environment, narcotic abuse, U.S. Customs Service, and alcohol, tobacco and firearms. In international concerns Rep. de Ia Garza who is fluent in Spanish became the first congressman from the Texas-Mexico area to serve on the U.S-Mexico Interparliamentary Group. In 1978 Rep. de Ia Garza became Chairman of this group which involves consultations with representatives of the Mexican Congress and plays a significant role in today’s ongoing free trade agreement with Mexico. Congressman ‘Kika’ de Ia Garza was awarded in 1979 the Order of the Aztec Eagle, Mexico’s highest honor for foreigners and he is the first member of the U.S. House to receive this award. ‘Kika’ de Ia Garza is a past or present member of the Mission, McAIIen, Alice, Pharr, Edinburg, and Rio Grande Valley Chamber of Commerce, the American Legion post #1 of Pharr, TX. as well as many fraternal societies.
This Society honors U.S. Congressman Eligio ‘Kika’ de Ia Garza not only for his service and political leadership in agriculture policy and trade, but for his support of agricultural research which benefits the people of Texas and especially those of the Rio Grande Valley. Also, we honor him for his service and innovative political leadership as Chairman of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee which benefits people the world over. [GEL., 1991].