Port Aransas Mayor Charles Bujan died Wednesday.
The news was confirmed to KRIS 6 News by officials at Port Aransas City Hall.
Bujan was receiving hospice care after the pancreatic cancer he'd been battling reached Stage 4. Those who were close with him, both personally and professionally, described him as an easy man to like.
“He positively impacted a lot of people in his short time here on Earth, including me,” said Port Aransas Police Chief Scott Burroughs. “We’re going to miss him terribly.”
Connie Beane knew Bujan for nearly 30 years, she even used to cut his mother’s hair. She said she was upset to hear the news about his passing.
“He’s a good person. It’s a tough loss. He will be very missed,” she said, tearfully adding, “I think the whole town is mourning him.”
Bujan, who was born and raised in Port Aransas, served as a city councilman since 2007, and the city’s mayor since 2016.
“He was somebody who cared a lot about people, he cared a lot about his city that he led, he cared about helping those who needed help,” said his longtime friend, Charles Zahn. “He was a true gentleman and a real representative of the good things that come out of Port Aransas.”
Bujan attended the First Baptist Church in Port Aransas for many years. His pastor, William Campbell, said his love for his city was clear.
“Charles would do anything for the people of Port Aransas,” he said.
He helped guide the city after it sustained massive damage during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and in 2019 battled the Port of Corpus Christi over its marina lease agreement and VLCC terminals at Harbor Island. Over the last two years, he has managed the once-sleepy tourist town's quick and massive growth and the resulting backlash between the local workforce, native families and tourists.
Campbell said his dedication to the city was most apparent preceeding, during, and following Hurricane Harvey.
“He was constantly working trying to get Port Aransas what it needed after the hurricane,” he said. “Port Aransas is better off because of Charles Bujan being our mayor during that time.“
Burroughs said Bujan spent hours working with city officials in the days and weeks following the hurricane.
“I think his lasting legacy, at least professionally, will be his leadership during and immediately after Hurricane Harvey, and in the four years since,” he said.
Joan Holt was elected to city council the same year Bujan was elected mayor. She said they worked closely to make sure they served the people of Port Aransas properly.
“He always, always stood up for the little man, the people in town, and wanted us to be sure to understand what they needed and what they wanted,” she said. “His passing is just a great sorrow to everyone, particularly the people he fought for and worked for.”
Campbell said since Bujan’s cancer diagnosis, the two met several times.
“He always remained positive,” Campbell said. “He knew where he was going, he was ready to see his savior, Jesus.”
Zahn, who knew Bujan for around 30 years, will miss the love he shared with his friend.
“We always ended every conversation we had by telling each other we loved each other,” he said.
Holt has saved as Mayor Pro Tem the last several months, filling in for Bujan when he could fulfill his role. She will continue to hold the role until a new mayor is elected in May.