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Raul A. Gonzalez, Jr. (b. 1940)

Associate Justice, Texas Supreme Court, 1984-1998

Raul A. Gonzalez, Jr., was born March 22, 1940. He grew up in the Rio Grande valley town of Weslaco, Texas, where his parents, migrant farm workers, had come from Mexico. Beginning in early childhood, Raul joined his family in the fields, harvesting cabbage, onions, tomatoes, and cotton. His work in the fields taught him a strong work ethic, and his mother stressed the importance of education in breaking the cycle of poverty.

Gonzalez graduated from Weslaco High School in 1959. That summer he worked in California, picking apricots and making boxes for tomatoes before enrolling at The University of Texas at Austin that fall. At UT he became involved with the Texas Young Democrats and participated in the civil rights struggle of the early 1960s. After earning a B.A. in government at UT in 1963, he enrolled in the University of Houston law school, where he earned a J.D. in 1966. He was admitted to the state bar that year.

Gonzalez worked as a Houston assistant city attorney in 1966, as an attorney for the Houston Legal Foundation from 1966 to 1969, and as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas in Brownsville from 1969 to 1973. He practiced law privately in Brownsville from 1973 to 1978 and served as a Diocesan attorney for the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville from 1976-1978.

Gonzalez' judicial career began in 1978, when Gov. Dolph Briscoe appointed him judge of the 103rd Judicial District. He was elected to a four-year term that November. Before he completed his term, Gov. Bill Clements appointed him an associate justice on the Thirteenth Court of Appeals. He was subsequently elected to the position in 1982.

Before Gonzalez' term on the Court of Appeals was complete, Gov. Mark White appointed him an associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court following the resignation of Charles Barrow. Gonzalez made history as the first Hispanic member of the court. He served in the position from October 1984 until the end of 1998, retiring before his term expired.

Gonzalez, married and the father of four grown children, lives in Austin, where he is of counsel to the law firm of Locke Liddell & Sapp in the area of state and federal appeals. An elementary school in his hometown of Weslaco was recently named for him.

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