2014-11-19 / News

Longtime lawyer Oscar Cavazos retires after 62 years

BY ALLEN ESSEX
Reporter


OSCAR CAVAZOS has closed his office but is still working to complete pending cases and outstanding business. He is proud of the 62 years he has spent in the law profession. 
(Photo by Allen Essex) OSCAR CAVAZOS has closed his office but is still working to complete pending cases and outstanding business. He is proud of the 62 years he has spent in the law profession. (Photo by Allen Essex) When Oscar Cavazos graduated from law school at the University of Texas and began his practice, President Harry Truman was in the White House and the Korean War was raging.

In June, Cavazos closed his office and will finish up leftover cases and pack up his books, completing a little more than 62 years of law practice, he said.

Cavazos, a native of Raymondville, was inspired by one of his father’s friends, he said.

“My father knew a lawyer in Raymondville, S.L. “Lamar” Gill,” Cavazos said. “He was the first county judge, once Willacy County became a county in 1921.”

“When I was in high school, I got a job cleaning his office on Saturdays,” Cavazos said of Gill. “There were no vacuum cleaners or carpet in offices in those days. I started reading some of his books. That’s how I decided I wanted to become a lawyer.”

During World War II, Cavazos served in the Air Force, as part of the American forces in the India-China- Burma Theater, as a member of a transportation company, helped service troop transports and cargo planes and worked on bases in India and Burma, he said. The planes flew over the Himalaya mountain range to take the fight to China, he said. “That was the only way in and out,” he said.

“It (air route) was called ‘The Hump,’ but it was blockaded by the ‘Japs,” Cavazos said of the occupying Japanese Imperial Army.

“After I was discharged from the Air Force, I started at UT,” he said. Completing a bachelor’s degree in business in 1948, he went on to law school, he said.

As a military veteran, Cavazos received a monthly check from the G.I. Bill, which really wasn’t enough to finance a college education, but it helped a lot, he said. A part-time job also helped pay for tuition, books and room and board, he said.

In September 1951, he returned to Raymondville and joined Judge Gill’s law practice, Cavazos said. “He (Gill) spoke Spanish and he had a lot of Spanish-speaking clients,” Cavazos said. “He needed someone who was bilingual to join him. “(The late federal judges) Filemon Vela and Reynaldo G. Garza came along a little while after me. I was the first Hispanic lawyer in Willacy County.”

Cavazos said he isn’t known for trying any groundbreaking civil rights cases or any other cases that received much publicity.

“I handled all the cases the same,” he said. “”I gave each case the same attention for 62 years,” he said.

Whether it was a criminal case he had been appointed to by a judge, with the low pay the county awards, or civil cases such as personal injury law, or just the all-around general practice of law, he always did his best, he said. “I never regretted being in my profession,” Cavazos said.

In recent years, a few lawyers and judges have tarnishing the image of the legal profession, which hurts everyone, he said.

Today, many lawyers spend a lot of money on advertising, he said. “Back then, our canons of ethics wouldn’t allow us to do that,” Cavazos said.

The only thing he regrets is finally having to close the door to his office for the last time this past summer, after realizing it was time to put his career to rest, Cavazos said.

“It was not easy to shut the door. I sort of bonded with my clients,” he said. “They were like family.” Each client, no matter whether they were wealthy business owners or poor field workers who didn’t know where to turn, received the same careful attention, Cavazos said.

He married Estela Cavazos in 1957 and they raised their four children, who all became college graduates, he said.

Among his achievements are: -- Texas State Bar and Willacy County Bar Association various committees and numerous legal profession honors. ---- Raymondville city attorney 10 years --Veterams of Foreign Wars (U.S. Air Force three years, 10 months) -- Texas Trial Lawyers’ Association -- Raymondville Lions Club pesident -- Jaycees president -- Raymondville Chamber of Commerce director -- Willacy County State Bar president -- U.S. District Court Judge Reynaldo G. Garza Award of Merit for Lifetime -- Raymondville Chamber of Comerce “Viva Raymondville Award as Favorite Attorney (2005-2006) --Raymondville Christmas Parade Grand Marshal (1999)

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