HOUSTON – State Senator Mario Gallegos passed away Tuesday afternoon, following complications associated with his 2007 liver transplant.
He was surrounded by family members and close friends at Methodist Hospital, according to a family spokesperson.
A Democrat, Gallegos has represented Houston’s Senate District 6 since 1995. Before that he served two terms in the Texas House.
The retired firefighter earned a reputation for toughness in 2007 when he showed up for a critical vote just a few weeks after his liver transplant. He set up a hospital bed outside the Senate chamber to make sure he could block a bill that would have required a photo ID to vote. The Senate passed the bill four years later.
Senator Gallegos was a champion for the working class, senior citizens, education and fire safety.
A graduate of the University of Houston, he served as one of his alma maters strongest voices in the legislature.
He received numerous awards in appreciation for his work during his legislative tenure including: Texas Municipal League’s "Distinguished Legislative Service Award", Sierra Club’s Legislative Service Award, Texas Women’s Political Caucus Good Guy Award, Legislator of the Year by the Mexican American Bar Association of Texas and the Fiestas Patrias Distinguished Hispanic of the Year Award.
Gallegos ran unopposed in the Democratic primary, but was scheduled to face Republican R.W. Bray in the November election.
Gallegos is survived by his wife, Theresa, three children and five grandchildren.
The Senator’s family is enormously grateful for the outpouring of support, thoughts and prayers expressed during the last few days, according to a statement.
A funeral will be held in Houston, along with a memorial service in Austin. Details are pending.