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Bexar County's first elected Hispanic county judge, former congressman dies

Photo provided by family
The late Congressman Albert Bustamante

Albert Garza Bustamante, the county's first elected Hispanic county judge and a four term congressman, died on Nov. 30 after a long illness, according to a statement from his family. He was 86.

Bustamante served House District 23, which stretches from San Antonio to El Paso, for eight years in the 1980s and '90s.

He leaves behind Rebecca, his wife of almost 51 years, his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

A visitation will be held at 6 p.m. at Mission Park Funeral Chapels Cherry Ridge on Dec. 12. A rosary follows at 7 p.m. A funeral service is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Dec. 13 at San Fernando Cathedral. Interment will be at 10 a.m. on Dec. 14 at Mission Park Funeral Chapel and Cemetery at 20900 I-10 West.

The family statement explained that Bustamante was born on April 8, 1935, to South Texas migrant farmworkers in Asherton, Texas. He was the first of 11 children.

He graduated from high school in 1954, served with the Army paratroopers, and attended San Antonio College. He later graduated from Sul Ross State College with a degree in secondary education.

He returned to San Antonio and joined the faculty of Cooper Junior High School, where he taught for seven years and coached the football and basketball teams.

The statement added that Bustamante started his 20-year political career in 1973, after working for several years for U.S. Rep. Henry B. Gonzalez. By the mid-1980s, he was in Washington D.C., where he became the first Latino to lead a Democratic freshman class of legislators,

Following his support of Hispanic FBI agents in a discrimination suit against the Bureau, the family said in a statement, the FBI launched a years-long investigation that spanned the majority his congressional career.

It spawned dozens of criminal charges against many people connected to him including his wife. Most were thrown out; none of those resulted in convictions. But the investigation damaged his political career, and he lost re-election in 1992.

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