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Buccaneer Commission longtime volunteer is a local pioneer

Betty Jean Longoria was the first hispanic woman to serve in many leadership roles including Corpus Christi City Council.
Posted at 1:47 PM, May 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-05 14:47:07-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Hundreds of people volunteer their time not just at Buc Days, but year-round to the Buccaneer Commission.

Betty Jean Longoria is one of those dedicated volunteers that has served for more than 20 years, and is a pioneer for women in the Coastal Bend.

Longoria talked about her mother’s love of giving back, especially to children.

“She was involved in PTA at Zavala and then at Crosley and so she was also very involved with our community,” Longoria said. “So that’s where my passion also comes from.”

She lived on Mary Street while growing up where Zavala Elementary School was built. She attended school there and went to Roy Miller High School where she graduated in 1958.

It was a year later that she would marry her high school sweetheart Alfred Longoria Jr. The two were married for almost 60 years, but Alfred died in 2019.

They share four sons and a number of grandchildren.

She said her family was always very supportive of her service to the community.

Longoria said it started when she didn’t like the way a member of the Tuloso-Midway Independent School Board was running things.

“I just picked up my purse and went over there and I filed,” Longoria said. “And, I won.”

She served on the board for six years before setting her sights on Corpus Christi City Council.

“I ran, won, and again I was the first elected female to be on the city council,” Longoria said. “I served there for 10 years.”

Then in 2002, she became a Nueces County Commissioner.

“I was the first Hispanic woman there elected,” Longoria said.

During her time in office, Longoria and her husband owned two businesses including L&M Fabricators which they owned for 30 years.

They also served on many boards of numerous organizations and non-profits spending much of their time doing philanthropic work.

One of those organizations is The Buccaneer Commission. She and Alfred became volunteers for the Leadership Program committee.

“He became involved and served about 20 years until he passed about three years ago,” Longoria said.

She’s stayed involved with the committee.

“There’s probably no one in Corpus that has more honest character,” Alex Garcia, the scholarship chairman for the Buccaneer Commission and longtime friend of Longoria, said. “Wanting to give back sincerely without expecting anything in return. We go back a long way even when she was back at Tuloso-Midway.”

 The Leadership program narrows down hundreds of high school applicants to just ten boys and ten girls.

“That provides scholarships throughout the Coastal Bend and we have applicants come not only from Corpus Christi,” Longoria said. “It’s throughout the Coastal Bend.”

The 20 finalists take special developmental and leadership classes and tours of different governments, entities, and organizations in the area.

“Learning about our city, learning about the career that you want to follow and why,” Longoria said. “And now having a mentor go with you and provide you also their information.”

“She’s able to bring the experience of being an elected official to the students,” Garcia said. “So many of them are saying they want to be in political science, they want to be elected officials and they have a true passion.”

“They mature so much,” Longoria said. “They get more confident in themselves from the class.”

At the end of the program, students receive thousands of dollars to go toward higher education.

“We’re talking about students going to school and everything,” Longoria said. “College, universities, and then coming back to Corpus Christi. And, so to us, that’s very important.”

The people who know her said Longoria has touched many lives.

“I was able to help the community and that’s what I was real passionate about, especially to help the children…” Longoria said This child is the generation to come. This child is going to be the one providing for me, taking care of me, and for many others so for me. That’s what it’s all about.”