The Kleberg County Sheriff's Office announced on Sunday that former sheriff Adan Muñoz Jr. has passed away.

The department posted a short message on its Facebook page Sunday morning offering its condolences to Muñoz's family, along with a photo of the former sheriff. Muñoz, 71, was a trailblazer in Kleberg County, becoming the first Hispanic to hold the office of sheriff, which he did from 1988 to 1994.

In March 2018, the Kleberg County Law Enforcement Center was renamed in honor of Muñoz during a ceremony in which the new signage was unveiled, along with a plaque with his photo and biographical information that was placed at the site.

"What I did sincerely was try to do the best I could, because I felt that each and every one of you that worked for me were important to me," Muñoz said during the 2018 ceremony. "And you are important to me now just as you were then, and I thank you for doing the work that you did."

Muñoz had a lengthy law enforcement career, starting at the Kingsville Police Department in 1971 before moving to the Kleberg County Sheriff's Office three years later. His leadership was vital to the passage of a $4.5 million bond that paid for the law enforcement center that would later carry his name. The facility also houses the county jail.

Muñoz continued to break down barriers as his career progressed, going on to serve as the first Hispanic executive director of Texas' criminal justice division, and the first Hispanic to serve as executive director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. He remained in that latter position until he retired in 2012.

Muñoz's daughter, Andrea, posted a message on Facebook Sunday morning reflecting on her father's life and career, while also thanking the outpouring of support from those who knew and loved him.

"My father was my hero, as no words will ever describe the admiration and love I have and will always have for him. That my whole family will," she wrote. "We were the lucky ones, to see how he made a difference and conquered his ambitions and dreams of being a pillar in his lifetime commitment to law enforcement and beyond."

Kleberg County Judge Rudy Madrid also released a statement Sunday afternoon offering his condolences to Muñoz's family.

"This is a sad day in Kleberg County. We send our most heartfelt prayers for Sheriff Adan Muñoz. May God bless him and his entire family," Madrid said. "The legacy he left behind has paved the way for law enforcement for Kleberg County and the entire State of Texas forever. He will never be forgotten."

Funeral arrangements are pending.

This is a developing story. Check back to KingsvilleRecord.com for updates.

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