José Filiberto “Fil” García Jr. of Kingsville died on March 20, 2019 in Corpus Christi surrounded by his family. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Born Oct. 5, 1934, García was 84 years old.
The eldest of Filiberto and Delfina García’s five children, he worked in the meat market at G&G Grocery, a small grocery store built by his parents in 1938.
Excelling in mathematics, physics and politics, García graduated from Henrietta M. King High School in 1952. However, his greatest passion was baseball, and he dreamed of playing in the major leagues. García was scouted by the Chicago Cubs and invited to try out at Cubs training camp. It was a turning point in his life; he was sent packing by the Cubs’ management with encouragement to try another “career.”
García earned his bachelor of science in chemistry at Texas College of Arts and Industries in Kingsville in 1957. After graduating, he joined the U.S. Air Force and was stationed at Scott AFB in St. Louis, Mo. He later transferred to the Air Force Reserves and completed his service in 1963.
His first job was at the Naval Propellant Plant in Indian Head, Md., not far from Washington, D.C. García married Theda York in 1959. She was his best friend and wife for 57 years, she preceded him in death in July 2017.
García often said that he held four careers, and was happy in all of them. His service with the U.S. government led to numerous jobs in the aerospace industry, including with Hercules Inc. of Salt Lake City, Ling-Temco-Vought of Dallas and Rockwell International of Waco. A specialist in propellants and solid rocket fuels, García worked on various projects through much of the 1960s, including the Polaris missile and the Saturn rocket, which boosted the Apollo lunar modules into space.
His second career opportunity came when his aging father invited him to return to Kingsville and join the family business.
In the 1970s, García became increasingly involved in politics, which he considered his third career. During the Nixon administration, he was appointed to serve in the Office of Economic Opportunity and later was selected as a delegate for President Jimmy Carter at the Democratic National Convention of 1976. García was appointed City Manager of Kingsville, a position he filled from 1974 to 1978.
García now embarked on his fourth and final career, guiding the family business, Garco. He steered the company until his last illness.
Among his other services to the community, García gave charitably to religious causes, poverty relief, the arts and education. He was also a loyal and beloved supporter of Texas A&M Kingsville’s Javelina baseball program. He also cofounded the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Kingsville.
José Filiberto García is survived by his five children, Katheryn G. Longoria, Caryl García, Juan Filiberto García Dana Garcia and Leila García; and three sisters, one brother, nine grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m., Saturday, March 30, 2019 at Ramirez-Salinas Funeral Home, 230 E. Ella Ave. in Kingsville.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift to Javelina Baseball, 700 University Blvd., MSC 200, Kingsville, Texas 78363 or https://www.javelinagiving.org/give-online/give-online-athletic-hometown-sponsor.