Pecos County People

A look at people and business in Pecos County

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After spending his entire life living in Fort Stockton, one city staple looks back on how much has changed over the years.

Many locals are familiar with M.R. Gonzalez – or his father, M.R. Gonzalez Sr. – or has driven on Gonzalez Loop, which is named after the patriarch.

At almost 89, M.R. has seen so much of Fort Stockton and played a part in the changing ways of the city.

He jokes that he is related to a lot of the city after coming from a huge family.

“He calls everyone primo,” said Christiane.

Growing up one of the first things that M.R. remembers is going to school and dealing with segregation.

“There was a lot of discrimination,” he said. “It was divided when I went to school.”

M.R. said he had to go to a Mexican-only school, which only taught to eighth grade. They weren't allowed to go to Fort Stockton High School.

He started off at Catholic school where the nuns only taught in Spanish before going to the Butz School in 1938 as an 8-year-old.

“It was the first time the Spanish people had a better school,” he said.

He entered school not speaking English, but was able to finally graduate high school in 1948.

“When we graduated, that class broke the barrier,” said M.R.

One of the hardest things about going to a mixed school was realizing that just because they were Mexican did not mean they weren't smart, which is what they had been told growing up.

“I didn't know that we weren't dumber than the Anglos,” said M.R.

After high school, he served in the military during the Korean War. Upon his return, he helped his dad with his business in trucking and ranching.

M.R. tried to go to school at Sul Ross State University, but only finished three years before he came back to help his dad with his work again.

“Once you skip one year its very rare you go back,” he said.

After getting into the work force, M.R. saw how hard it was to get a job if you were Mexican in the city – and how hard it was just to be Mexican in the city.

“My dad fought a lot against the discrimination,” he said.

M.R. remembers that the county commissioners passed a rule saying that Mexican's couldn't swim in the Comanche Springs Pool, the theatre only allowed them to sit up top and not below, and restaurants routinely had “No Mexicans” signs hanging in front.

“Things slowly got better and better,” he said.

One of the biggest issue M.R. saw was that there was no diversity on the county commissioners court and that most commission decisions favored ranchers over the majority of the population.

M.R. successfully ran for county commissioner in 1970 and became the first commissioner of Spanish decent since the early 1900s.

“The Spanish people were not represented,” said M.R.

The Pioneer article from November 1970 announced Gonzalez as winner and said he was the first Mexican-American to represent Fort Stockton in modern history.

He served for 20 years as county commissioner and dealt with is fair share of prejudice but didn't let it affect him, he said.

He had people in his corner helping him including the Silliman and Warnock families, who helped with naming the road after his father, Gonzalez Loop.

He met his wife in 1973. She was from Germany. They married in 1983 and had two children together.

These days, M.R. is still in ranching, feeling great and still a big part of the community.

“I've been taking care of this German girl,” he joked.

Christiane said that M.R. is very diplomatic, patient and they are still enjoying life together.

“I don't know anyone else who works as hard, he hasn't slowed down one bit,” she said.

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