Former Texas Supreme Court Justice visits students in his hometown

 Third graders at Justice Raul Gonzalez Elementary School in Weslaco received a special gift on October 30 when Raul Gonzalez Jr. returned to his hometown to visit a school named in his honor.

Justice Gonzalez assisted his brother, Weslaco Economic Development Director Hernan Gonzalez, to distribute dictionaries to every third grader at Gonzalez Elementary. Hernan, former president of the Weslaco Rotary Club and his brother Raul, a former member of the Brownsville Rotary Club, took part in the Weslaco Rotary dictionary program in which every third grader receives a new dictionary.

This year the Weslaco Rotary Club placed the Rotary Four-Way Test in each of 1,608 dictionaries purchased for every third grader in 15 public and private schools in Weslaco. Gonzalez read the four-way test and explained every point with honest detail, letting each child know that if they lived by this creed, they could become a teacher, principal, judge, secretary of state, or even President of the United States. The Four-Way Test is: First…is it the truth? Second…is it fair to all concerned? Third…will it build good will and better relationships? Fourth…will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Justice Gonzalez encouraged the youth to learn and use new words, journal the new words, and in one year he will return to the school and reward the student who had used the dictionary and written down the most words learned.

Raul Gonzalez Jr. first became acquainted with the Rotary 4-Way Test as a Weslaco High School student in the late 1950s when he won the Weslaco Rotary 4-Way Speech Contest. The contest is a tradition with thousands of Rotary Clubs throughout the world in an effort to encourage youths to learn and live by the Rotary motto. Gonzalez, the son of migrant farm workers, graduated from Weslaco High in 1959 and the University of Texas with a BA in government in 1963. He continued his education at the University of Houston Law School, graduating in 1966.

Gonzalez worked as an attorney for the City of Houston, the Houston Legal Foundation, and as an assistant U. S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas in Brownsville. His judicial career began in 1978 when Gov. Dolph Briscoe appointed him as judge of the 103rd Judicial District. He was elected to a four-year term and before he completed his term, Gov. Bill Clements appointed him as an associate justice on the 13th Court of Appeals. Governor Mark White then appointed him an associate justice of the Texas Supreme Court. Gonzalez made history as the first Hispanic member of the court. He served in the position from October 1984 until the end of 1998.

Gonzalez, married and the father of four grown children, lives and practices law in Austin. The Weslaco ISD named Gonzalez Elementary in his honor.