Oral Interview with Sergio Gonzales
December 7, 2004
This is an interview with Sergio Gonzales a state judge who grew up in Del Rio. He would not talk about the cases he has been over, because they are mostly family domestic cases and he has never had to trial a murder case or something as serious as that. So this interview is about his life growing up in Del Rio and the influence that eventually made him decide to become a lawyer and finally a state judge.
SS: Where is your family from?
SG: My Mother was from Cuba, My dad is from Piedres Negres.
SS: And your grandparents?
SG: On my mothers side from Cuba. But my Dads side from Piedres Negres.
SS: Do you have any brothers and sisters?
SG: I have one brother, and three sisters, my brother is an attorney in Houston, My oldest sister is in New Albany, Indiana, then I have another sister in Fort Worth, then I have my sister in Del Rio.
SS: Growing up did you did you live in town or at the ranch?
SG: Both. I grew up at South Del Rio on Main Street, an subsequently I moved twice, to the ranch, back to town and back to the ranch. At that time, the ranch, there wasnít very much out there, the Mall wasnít there, there was nothing past the La Siesta, ( Hotel) A very few houses out at Cienegas Hills, and thatís it. Yea, there was nothing out there.
SS: Where did you go to high school at?
SG: I went to Del Rio High School, I graduated in 1976.
SS: Did you play any sports?
SG: In High School? Yes, I played football, Basket and Baseball, in High School.
SS: After High School, what school did you go to?
SG: I went to Saint Maryís University, Actually I played ball (baseball) at a junior college, Ranger Junior College, and I had a scholarship then I went to Saint Maryís University, and I graduated from Saint Maryís University, in San Antonio.
SS: Did you know, always that you wanted to study law?
SS: When did that come about?
SG: I would say my, fourth year, my last year in Saint Maryís, Thats when I realized thatís what I wanted to do, that I would like to try, and I think that came from me because all the years that I had been around my father watching him, I would go to court with him and, in fact I would go in the office and cut his grass and clean the office, clean the windows, all that on a regular basis, at least once or twice a month, probably twice a month, I think that is what rubbed off on me, because he, my parents never told me thatís what they wanted me to do, I think it just rubbed off on me, and I tried, I worked with some lawyers in San Antonio as a currier my last year, just being around a bunch of lawyers seemed like I would like to do that, and I decided that I would like to do that.
SS: Are you married?
SG: Married, I have three children, I have, the current ages are fifteen, for my oldest daughter, my next daughter is twelve going on thirteen, this January, and then I have a little boy he is four and a half, turns 5 in May.
SS: Who is the person that influenced you the most growing up?
SG: My parents.
SS: Both of them?
SS: The years between school and now, what did you do?
SG: Well, do you mean from college?
SG: After college I worked for about two, two and a half years and then I decided to go to law school, my senior year I thought I would give law school a try, but I decided to work for two years after college. Then I went to law school and I went to Oral Roberts University, Law School within that University called O W Cobert School of Law, and then I graduated from there and came home to Del Rio and started practicing law for Del Rio, and I practiced law for about, now I am in my fourteenth year as a lawyer the last seven years I have been a judge. Actually the last six years.
SS: When you became a judge, how did your family react to that?
SG: My mother had already passed away, she was with me but she wasnít physically here, my father and my wife were very supportive and my family was supportive.
SS: What did your friends think of it?
SG: Nobody knew. No one knew. Just my wife and my dad.
SS: And now what do they say about it?
SG: Well nobody knew at the time I was planning on, but I talked to them before I made a decision, and then when I did every one supported me, including my friends and my family, everyone was really excited, nervous but excited.
SS: What if one of your children wanted to become an attorney, would you back them or say no it is to much schooling or to hard on you, what would you tell them?
SG: I encourage them to get an education, and to do what ever they wanted to do, if thatís what they want to do I would support them and help them out, of course if they wanted to be lawyers I could help them out even better because of my background, I would support them a hundred percent. If that is what they want then I would encourage them to try it, but I wouldnít force anything upon them.
SS: What kind of recreation do you do?
SG: I work out at my wifeís gym, ha, ha, and I like racket ball, I play soft ball, and I just started picking up golf and I maybe picked up golf clubs maybe three times in my whole life, thatís it. I just thought it would break up the monotony a little bit and take my mind off of things, but my wife is very supportive of everything.
SS: How did you meet your wife?
SG: In High School, I met her in High School.
SS: Did she stay with you the whole time?
SG: Yes, well we dated, and went off to college, we stopped seeing each other for a while, and we got back together and things worked out and we married, in eighty two, weíve been married for twenty two years.
SS: Thatís a record.
SS: Do you think that your older brother or sisters have influenced you in any way in becoming a judge or an attorney?
SG: Well, of course as I mentioned my father, my dadís been a lawyer for 69 years, and so I think that was a big part of it, and even my brother, my brother didnít go straight, didnít go off, he worked for many years doing other things before he decided to go to law school, and he pretty much decided to go to law school about a year after I did, thatís interesting.
SS: How old is he?
SG: My brother? Heís about eight years older than me.
SS: So you were the baby?
SG: Yeah! (grinning) Iím the baby, its interesting because it was not something he and I planned and something my parents asked us to do, it just happened, it was pretty cool, pretty neat.
SS: You said that your father has been an attorney for sixty nine years, is he still practicing?
SG: Oh yea, he still practices, I take him to the office everyday, heís not per say litigating like he use to, because of his age and his mind is good, heís able to get around, he canít drive though because of his vision, other than that he doing fine, he is doing great, for ninety six, he is a very positive person, a very positive person.
SS: Out of all the places you could live, Mexico City, Mexico, Austin or Houston, Dallas, why did you pick Del Rio?
SG: Well I came back to Del Rio because father, my roots were here and my father was still practicing law and I wanted to practice law with my dad. He didnít ask me to come back it was something that I did on my own, so I wanted to come back and work here with him because I didnít know how much longer he was going to live, and so thatís why I settled here. I could have practiced law anywhere in the state of Texas, I didnít necessarily have to come back here, but that is what I decided to do, and thatís why I did it, and I wanted to give back to the community, give back to the people that I grew up with and I felt that was probably the right thing to do. For instance my brother decided to stay in Houston, heís lived in Corpus, Dallas, Houston, but I felt it was my obligation to come back home, I wasnít asked to come back home and I wanted to just spend some time with my family my dad before he actually passed away but my God he is living a long life so its been great.
SS: Do you think the reason he is living so long because he is around family and heís not, you know how some people put there parents in nursing homes but then in two to three years there gone.
SG: Sure, well he, my dad is able to do a lot of other things than drive, his vision is a little bit affected by Macular degeneration, but he is at a point where he can still do a lot of things on his own but we do not leave him alone, heís with family, so we take care of him and thatís all right. Now of course there are people that canít take care of there loved ones, you know they have kids, they have to work, they put them in nursing homes, and of course there are people who put there parents in nursing homes and they could take care of them, but thank God we didnít have to do anything like that and I donít think were going to do anything like that. We love him and take care of him and if I canít do it my wife will do it or my kids are older and can help, its been a very good experience, heís really positive we keep, I think it means a lot that he has a good attitude and it means a lot that he has family around him. It means a great deal because if he was by himself he probably would go down hill especially since mother died back in eighty seven you would think that he probably didnít have many years left after that but after being married for forty four years or so I think it has a lot to do with his family, and I think that holds true for everybody not just our family, it holds true for everybody.