MOYA, RICHARD ARMAND (1932 ~ 2017). The following is an obituary for Richard Armand Moya. The obituary was published in the Austin American Statesman on February 19, 2017.
MOYA, Richard A.
1932 - 2016
Richard A. Moya was born in Austin, Texas on August 14, 1932 and was called to his heavenly home on February 16, 2017. He was preceded in death by his son, Danny Moya, and his parents, Pete and Bertha Moya. On that day he joined them so they could walk the paths of heaven together.
Richard is survived by his wife of 64 years, Gertrude "Gertie" Moya and his daughter, Lori Moya. He has two sisters, Christine Gaona and Irene Moya, both of Austin. Grandchildren, Misty Moya Welch of Wiley, Jeffrey Daniel Delgado, and Teresa Denise Delgado (Greg Lutha), all of Austin; great grandchildren, Nathan Bailey-Delgado, Lucas Delgado, Jacob Moya, and Danika Moya; numerous nieces, nephews, other loving family and friends.
He was born and raised in the original Mexican American barrio in East Austin. He attended Metz and Zavala Elementary schools, Allen Junior High, and Austin High School. Richard was initially enrolled in Zavala elementary prior to the family moving near Metz elementary. The district expected him to continue attending Zavala, the Mexican School. His mother refused to have him walk by Metz just to make him go to the Mexican School and demanded he be enrolled in Metz. As you can probably guess, she won, and the Moyas would go to Metz. Moya pointed to that early lesson in forming his life-long mission to fight for the underdog.
As a student at Austin High, he and his friends created their own publication that was named the Blah, Blah, and Blah, when the official student newspaper excluded activities and accomplishments of the Mexican American students. The students would regularly get together at their hangout, the Comal Recreation Center, La Comal, where the Director typed their articles for them and allowed them to use the mimeograph machine to run copies. The school would eventually ban the Blah, Blah, and Blah, but always the rebel, Moya and his friends continued distributing their paper at the local drug store across from the high school.
As a teenager, he found himself spending more and more time at the Pan American recreation center learning from his mentor, Roy G. Guerrero. He quickly learned the value of encouraging others to achieve their goals as he was, while developing strong leadership skills. Those leadership skills led him to serve as National President of the Junior LULAC and later as a founder and charter member of the Mexican American Democrats of Texas and the State Tejano Democrats.
Moya joined the Army and was honorably discharged in 1955 as a Sergeant 1st Class and Korean War Veteran.
Later, while having a couple beers and burgers with then Justice of the Peace Jerry Dellana, Moya was encouraged to apply for a job with the Travis County Legal Aid-for the non-lawyer chief investigators job. Dellana knew Moya had strong contacts in the community and thought he would do a great job. A committee was created, that included none other than John Treviño, to interview and recommend candidates for the non-lawyer positions. Treviño insisted that at least one of the investigators speak Spanish and Moya was hired as Chief Investigator.
In 1970, he became the first Mexican-American elected to public office in Travis County, Texas, as County Commissioner for Precinct 4, a position he would hold for 16 years, from 1971 through 1986. Moya always credited his election to the hard, dedicated and tireless efforts of the Economy Furniture strikers, their families, and the grassroots movement of the Mexican American community, supporters from Precinct 4 and from across the county.
As a County Commissioner, he was instrumental in establishing the first Human Resources office to centralize county hiring, a rural transportation program known as CARTS, supported the development of the emergency services program known as StarFlight, and actively promoted diversity in hiring and contracting in the county. His commitment to diversity in hiring was almost always connected to budgets in those early years and many people owe their jobs to department heads rushing around to hire minorities before Moya reviewed their budget. He shepherded a lasting cultural change in Travis County government.
After leaving office, he served as the Director of Field Operations for then Texas Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower, traveling around the state working with field offices and handling personnel issues.
When his good buddy and Travis County Commissioner colleague Ann Richards, was elected Governor of Texas in 1991, she looked to Moya to help in her administration. As one of three Deputy Chiefs of Staff in her administration, he handled any and everything that needed handling from problem agencies to smoothing feathers! He brought his expertise and statewide connections to help her achieve her goal of diversifying state boards and commissions. And, of course, he was always good for a laugh or two when she needed it.
It is easy to go on and on about his public service but that was only a part of the man. Richard Moya was a dedicated and loyal husband, father and grandfather. He made time for his family, while public service was important, his family was always first priority. For example, every morning for more than 30 years, whether he was traveling or not, he would personally be his daughter Lori's wake-up call at 5:30 and 6:00 a.m.
Hours were spent watching Texas Longhorn football, basketball, and baseball. He would always say, "in this family, we bleed burnt orange!" It may seem strange to some but he loved mowing the grass on his riding mower out on the Moya Ranch. Some of the best family times were had and memories made on that ranch, from New Year's Eve bonfires and fireworks to watching his grandchildren riding the paddle boats or the dogs run and jump in the ponds. He was most at peace during his time at the ranch.
Most of Moya's adult life was spent in public service, both in and out of elected office. In an Oral History archived at the Austin History Center, Moya said, "I'll tell you, I've done a lot. I'm tired." He did more than a lot, he mentored hundreds of people, changed thousands of lives-more than he even knew-he was tough, he was brilliant and he fought for those who needed it most!
Rest in Peace Moya, you have more than earned it. Hook 'em Horns!
The family would like to offer a most heartfelt Thank You to Richard's doctors, Michael Floyd, Richard Garza, Gurneet Kohli and the staff of Christopher House and Hospice Austin for their unwavering care and support, not only to Richard, but to all of his family. May God bless each of you and your families. Donations can be made to Christopher House in honor of Richard A. Moya.
Lie-in-State will begin at 1:00 p.m., Wednesday, February 22, 2017, Mission Funeral Home Serenity Chapel, 6204 S. First St., Austin, Texas.
Formal Visitation will begin at 4:00 p.m., Thursday, February 23, 2017, St. Ignatius Martyr Catholic Church, 126 W. Oltorf St., Austin, Texas. Recitation of Holy Rosary will begin at 7:00 p.m.
Mass of Christian Burial will begin at 2:00 p.m., Friday, February 24, 2017, St. Ignatius Martyr Catholic Church, 126 W. Oltorf St., Austin, Texas. Burial will follow Mass at Texas State Cemetery, 909 Navasota St., Austin, Texas
Please visit www.missionmemorials.com to order flowers and offer condolences to the family.
Published in Austin American-Statesman from Feb. 19 to Feb. 20, 2017