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Kika de la Garza
Chair of the House Agriculture Committee

In office
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 1995
Preceded by Tom Foley
Succeeded by Pat Roberts
Member of the United States House of Representatives
In office
January 3, 1965 – January 3, 1997
Preceded by Joe M. Kilgore
Succeeded by Rubén Hinojosa
Member of the Texas House of Representatives
In office
1953–1965
Preceded by Constituency established
Succeeded by Bud Atwood
Personal details
Born Eligio de la Garza II
(1927-09-22)September 22, 1927
Mercedes, Texas, U.S.
Died March 13, 2017(2017-03-13) (aged 89)
McAllen, Texas, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
 United States Army
Years of service 1945–1946 (Navy)
1950–1952 (Army)

Eligio “Kika” de la Garza II (September 22, 1927 – March 13, 2017) was an American politician who served as the Democratic representative for the 15th congressional district of Texas from January 3, 1965, to January 3, 1997.

Biography[edit | edit source]

De la Garza grew up in Mission in Hidalgo County. At the age of seventeen, he entered the United States Navy and served for two years. De la Garza chose to continue his education at Edinburg Junior College and the United States Army Artillery School at Fort Sill in Oklahoma. For two years beginning in 1952, he was a lieutenant in the Army serving in the 37th Field Artillery Regiment and deployed in the Korean War. After returning home, he completed his law degree at St. Mary's University School of Law in San Antonio. After having practiced law for several years in the Rio Grande Valley, he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives, where he served from 1953 to 1965.

While in the state House, de la Garza was famous for sponsoring a large amount of legislation in the fields of education and the environment. He authored bills to protect wetlands, create state-sponsored preschools, and more international bridges to Mexico. From 1955 to 1957, he was the only Hispanic member of the Texas House. He was joined in 1957 by a second Mexican American member, Oscar M. Laurel of Laredo, the seat of Webb County.

In 1965, de la Garza, a strong supporter of U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson, assumed his seat in the United States House of Representatives. From 1981 to 1994, he was the chairman of the Agriculture Committee, leading the way in passing bills that reorganized the agricultural lending system, the farm insurance system, the United States Department of Agriculture, and pesticide laws.

De la Garza was also a civil rights supporter and called for smoother relations between the U.S. and Mexico. He worked to improve trade between the two nations and was critical in passing the legislation that enacted the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

De la Garza's nickname was made famous by Andy Rooney in the early days of his TV show as he referred to “Kiki de la Garza” as one of the names that stuck with him most (in honor of the Kika-Poo Native American Indians of the lower Rio Grande of South Texas). He resided in McAllen, Texas, with his wife Lucille until he died on March 13, 2017, of kidney failure.[1][2]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Unrecognised parameter
New constituency Member of the Texas House of Representatives
from the 38th district

1953–1965
Succeeded by
Bud Atwood
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Joe M. Kilgore
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 15th congressional district

1965–1997
Succeeded by
Rubén Hinojosa
Preceded by
Tom Foley
Chair of the House Agriculture Committee
1981–1995
Succeeded by
Pat Roberts
Preceded by
Jaime Fuster
Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus
1989–1991
Succeeded by
Solomon P. Ortiz

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