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Mass, burial held Friday for Kingsville's Lauro Fred Cavazos, the first Latino U.S. Cabinet member

OBIT Lauro Cavazos
Posted at 10:38 AM, Mar 25, 2022

A funeral Mass will be held for Kingsville's Lauro Fred Cavazos at 11 a.m. at St. Gertrude the Great Catholic Church in Kingsville, the former educator and politician's hometown.

He will be laid to rest immediately following at Resthaven Cemetery.

He was 95.

The United States' first Latino cabinet member was one of five children born on the King Ranch in 1927 to Lauro Faustino and Tomasa (Quintanilla) Cavazos. His brother, Richard Cavazos — the country's first Latino four-star general — is for whom Kingsville's General Cavazos Boulevard is named.

Lauro Cavazos also served in the U.S. Army after graduating from Kingsville High School, serving during World War II.

After his military service, he pursued his education, a tenet instilled in him by his parents, earning bachelors in zoology 1949, and a masters degree in cytology (the study of individual cells) from what is now known as Tech Tech University in Lubbock in 1951.

He added a doctorate in physiology from Iowa State University in 1954, according to the Washington Post.

He taught anatomy and physiology at what is now known as Virginia Commonwealth University, and at Tufts University, where in 1964 he ultimately was named dean of its medical school in Boston.

He also returned to his alma mater, Texas Tech, where he served as president for eight years, following that position with one as then-president Ronald Reagan's secretary of education. Cavazos would be notable as a political novice and a democrat who served under not one, but two, republicans who was unanimously Senate-approved in a 94-0 vote.

However, he resigned in 1990 from president George H.W. Bush's administration having implemented few successful initiatives and causing controversy, according to the Post.

Though he told the New York Times in 1988 that he grew up speaking Spanish while growing up on the King Ranch and to his father, he upset Hispanic and Latinos during a speech on education in which he said: “If that child cannot speak English the first day of school, that child is not ready to learn.”

His ability to speak Spanish, though, would lead him to teach students in Mexico, Central America and South America.

He died in Concord, Massachusetts, where he lived, and leaves behind his wife Peggy and 10 children, 15 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Lauro Cavazos died March 15.

This is a developing story. Check back with KRIS 6 News for more.