In Recognition of Ambassador Raymond Tellesby Representative Xavier Becerra
Posted on 2013-03-15
in the house of representatives
Friday, March 15, 2013
Mr. BECERRA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to celebrate the legacy of a
great American, Ambassador Raymond Telles, a true pioneer in
international and civic leadership.
Ambassador Telles passed away on March 8, 2013 at the age of 97 in the company of those who loved him. He is survived by his daughters, Dr. Cynthia Telles and Dr. Patricia Telles-Irvin and their families. His life was the very definition of a trailblazer. Ambassador Telles was America's first ambassador of Latino descent, the first Latino to be mayor of a major American city and a decorated U.S. Air Force Colonel.
Born September 5, 1915 in El Paso, Texas, Ambassador Telles began his career at the Department of Justice before being drafted into the United States Army Air Force where he admirably served as the Chief of the Lend-Lease Program for South and Central America. In honor of his distinguished work, he was awarded the Mexican Legion of Merit, the Order of the Southern Cross from Brazil, Columbian wings, and the Peruvian Flying Cross. Later Ambassador Telles served as a military aide for President Harry S. Truman and General Dwight D. Eisenhower during World War II.
After being recalled as the Executive Officer of the 67th Tactical and Reconnaissance Group during the Korean War, Raymond Telles was elected Mayor of El Paso, Texas in November 1957. While in office, he encouraged fire and police departments around the city to diversify their workforce. Following a close first election, he went on to win a second term unopposed. After his tenure as mayor, President John F. Kennedy appointed him as U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica. In 1967, President Richard Nixon called on Ambassador Telles to serve as Chairman of the U.S.-Mexican Border Commission. He would later be appointed as Commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission where he served in the administrations of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.
Although Ambassador Telles will be known in many political circles as a tireless public servant, he will eternally be remembered by those closest to him as a caring father, loving husband, and mentor who paved the way for others to succeed long after his passing. As someone who advised so many young emerging leaders, he can rest comfortably knowing that the light of his legacy will shine for several generations to come.
Mr. Speaker, we are truly fortunate to live in a country which gives every one of us an opportunity to make our dreams come true. A few remarkable Americans achieve a level of service to country that opens the door not just to their dreams but to ours as well. Many of us, therefore, have a profound desire and abiding obligation to look up to the sky to say to Ambassador Raymond Telles, ``Thank you!'' Surely, he is smiling upon us now as he surveys the countless dreams he brought to life. May Ambassador Telles rest in peace and may his family celebrate the life and memory of a dear family man and American patriot.