CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Community service and a commitment to education was a part of Gabe Rivas III's life for a very long time, said those who worked closely with him.
The Del Mar College Regent, who friends and colleagues have confirmed to KRIS 6 News died Wednesday evening of COVID-19 complications, sat on many boards and was an active community advocate for most of his 66 years.
According to a Facebook post from family members, Rivas died early Wednesday evening.
A photographer by trade -- he owned Gabe Rivas Photography -- he also was a member of LULAC Chapter No. 1. He also served on numerous city commissions and committees.
"He started getting really active in the community, so he started branching out," said current LULAC Chapter No. 1 president Dr. Nick Adame.
He was in the middle of his fourth staggered six-year term on the college's Board of Regents. KRIS 6 News contacted the school Wednesday night, which said it would be releasing a statement concerning Rivas on Thursday.
Adame served with Rivas on the Del Mar College Board of Regents.
"He was so proud to sit on that board," he said.
It's a sentiment that Ramiro Gamboa, who served with Rivas on LULAC Council No. 1 for 50 years, echoed almost word-for-word.
Gamboa said ensuring local students received a good education had always been a priority for Rivas.
When asked whether he meant Rivas facilitated education for Hispanic children, specifically, Gamboa was quick to correct.
"ALL children," he said, emphatically.
Gamboa said he first came to know Gabe Rivas and his family more than 50 years ago after working at the old Memorial Medical Center with Rivas' father.
"We did over 50 years (at LULAC)," he said. "They were great years -- great, educational years, not only for him, myself -- for the community."
Gamboa said he and Rivas were a part of the local LULAC -- the country's founding chapter -- when it began influencing societal changes in Corpus Christi. Rivas eventually served as its director and a district director, according to his biographical data on the Del Mar College website.
Whereas Gamboa had a passion for civil rights, he said Rivas always understood the importance of furthering education.
"He made sure that our civil rights (fight) -- and the education of our children -- never mixed," Gamboa said. "He was always made sure that our childrens' education was always at the forefront."
Adame said Rivas was familiar with many of the organization's projects, and chaired one its premier events, "La Feria de las Flores."
"He was somebody I could depend on on advice," he said. "Good, sound advice. He's been truly an inspiration to me."
Adame also served with Rivas on the Amistad Medical Center Board of Directors, which confirmed Rivas' death in a Facebook post.
"Gabe is a true community advocate," Adame said. "He cares so much about the community and the things that he did -- especially for Del Mar."
Fellow Del Mar Regent Elva Estrada said she served with Rivas for many years, and relied on his experience.
"I was able to call Gabe at any time and he always had an answer for me," she said. "He would always answer my call."
Rivas was admitted to the hospital last month after testing positive for the novel coronavirus.
According to a Facebook post from theNueces County Democratic Party, Rivas' condition worsened over the last several days.
His family's Facebook post reports that a private celebration of Rivas' life will be held on his birthday on May 9, 2021.
Digital director Tim Griffin contributed to this story.