ROQUE GUERRA, JR.
In 1932, Roque Guerra, at the age of twenty, was called by the superintendent of Rio Grande City Independent School District to start the music program. Mr. Guerra accepted the job, and thus began his long career as a public educator.
His first teaching assignment resulted in the beginning of the first string orchestra for the district. Mr. Guerra was excited to begin his teaching career in Rio Grande City and was even more excited by his wonderful salary of $35.00 a month! His first classroom was in the basement of the main school building. This was his music room for several years. Little did he know that some forty years later, this school, now rebuilt into a very large and modern structure, would be renamed in his honor.
During World War II, because of the lack of teachers, Mr. Guerra was given additional assignments. He taught choir, coached soccer, baseball and basketball. He was also band director at the same time. His involvement with his students was very influential. This is evident in that fifteen of his ex-students are now band directors.
He never stopped being a “second father” to all students, and this has made him unforgettable to a generation of music lovers who came from this small community in south Texas. While he met all of his responsibilities to the district, he also kept within his budget by copying and arranging music for the band. He also repaired band instruments and personally supplied some of the materials which were not available.
The Rio Grande City High School Band was always involved in activities that took them to various Valley cities and even into Mexico. The activities included parades, competitions, ceremonies and concerts.
Mr. Guerra has been honored by the local chapter of the Knights of Columbus; the Rio Grande City Lions Club; Texas Bandmasters Association for twenty years of continuous membership; Life membership by the Texas Congress of Parents and Teachers; Texas Bandmasters Association Bandmaster of the Year 1967; and Life membership in the Rattler Booster Club of Rio Grande City.
Rio Grande City ISD honored him by naming an elementary school after him. He has also been honored with community banquets, halftime football show performances by various high school bands, and a presentation at the UIL Marching Competition Grand Finale “Pigskin Jubilee.” The mayor of Monterrey, Mexico, gave a banquet in his honor in appreciation for a concert given by the Rattler Band in that city.
His services as a public educator lasted forty years. He is well known in the community and still keeps in touch with present band directors. After his retirement in 1972, Mr. Guerra was elected Starr County Commissioner from 1973-1977, and served as Superintendent for Public Instruction from 1978-1980.
Mr. Guerra and his wife, Ninfa, have been married for 58 years and have two children. His son is retired from the Air Force and lives in Nebraska. His daughter is a teacher in the Katy Independent School District.
His love of music and his dedication to education and public service will always be appreciated by the community. Mr. Guerra is very grateful to all the wonderful people who have helped in his career and have supported him through these many years. He has said on many occasions, that if given a choice, he would do everything the same way, because working with children and guiding them is the most fulfilling job there is.