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Tuesday, March 08, 2016

"Just a Thought" Column continues in La Prensa of SA, 3-6

Just a Thought: Interacting with Mayor Cisneros
by Steve Walker

In 1960 I was accepted to attend Central Catholic High School. I was excited having graduated from St. Gregory’s Catholic School in Balcones Heights from eighth grade knowing I would get to attend Central along with some fellow St. Gregory’s classmates. I was excited about meeting new friends from around the area, or so I thought.

Unfortunately my excitement turned to sadness upon learning two weeks before school started that my father informed me using his exact words, “was being transferred from San Antonio to a foreign country called Massachusetts!” Turns out it was Springfield, Massachusetts to be exact.

I was devastated by the move. It took me 12 years to get back to the Alamo City after Viet Nam, promising never to leave again other than short term travel.

When I came back to San Antonio, a few years later I eventually met Councilman and soon to be Mayor, Henry Cisneros. That is when I realized had I attended Central Catholic, he would have been my classmate for four years as he is my age. (Still is!)

After that our paths have crossed many times and continue to this day. When I ran for Judge the first time, he graciously endorsed me. I still see him at various functions, along with his wife, Mary Alice also a former Councilwoman.

The irony is I met his father well before I met him. In fact, I served in the Army Reserve with his father, Colonel George Cisneros at the 90th ARCOM on Harry Wurzbach Road for a few years. Many a reserve duty I stood at attention in front of Colonel Cisneros.  When I worked at KENS-5 in 82 my first story was an interview with the Mayor’s father the Colonel for Father’s Day. Later the Colonel and I worked out at the gym together on occasion after he retired. I eventually attended his funeral.

When Councilman Cisneros decided to run for Mayor and become the Alamo City’s first Hispanic Mayor in a hundred years, a number of my government students from Memorial High School and I campaigned for him. We stuffed envelopes, walked door to door and actively participated in the campaign when we could.
As President of the Junior Chamber of Commerce from 1981-82 I recruited him as a dues paying member. After he was elected Mayor I nominated him for the National Junior Chamber’s Annual 10 Outstanding Men of America Award which was presented to him in Tulsa, Oklahoma that year. I actually sat in the Mayor’s chair in his office at 2 a.m. writing his recommendation!

Other notables named that year included Merle Osmond, a member of the singing Osmond family. Remember Donny and Marie? Also Leroy Selman of the NFL Tampa Bay Bucaneers, and the first blind mountain climber who climbed Mt. Everest were also inducted.

During the 90s when Mayor Cisneros was named by President Bill Clinton as San Antonio’s first HUD Secretary, on more than one occasion when I flew to D.C. to pull my Army Reserve tours at the Pentagon I would end up on the same flight as he was on our way to D.C.  I would point out he flew first class and I didn’t!

To this day I wonder if I had not moved to that strange place in Massachusetts if I would have hung out with the former Mayor back in the day or even another possible classmate by the name Sonny Melendrez? I guess I will never know.

Anyway, as always, what I write is “Just a Thought.”

Steve Walker is a Vietnam Veteran and former Justice of the Peace and Journalist.  

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