Hispanic icon Adelfa Callejo dead at 90

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by GLORIA CAMPOS

WFAA

Posted on January 25, 2014 at 8:43 AM

Updated Saturday, Jan 25 at 7:10 PM

Adelfa Callejo, one of the most respected Texas Hispanic leaders and civil rights activists, died early Saturday at the age of 90.

Loved ones said the Dallas attorney was surrounded by family and passed peacefully.

"Our city is a better place because she cared so much about our community," said Dallas City Manager A.C. Gonzalez in a written statement. "She was one of the first in Dallas to effectively challenge the status quo related to barriers for minorities' advancement."

Callejo was well-known across North Texas as the voice of the disenfranchised, and as someone who battled for civil rights while paving the way for Hispanics in government.

"I would like to be remembered that I tried to make a difference in the lives of immigrants and their children," she told News 8.

She had brain surgery last September. Two tumors were removed from the left hemisphere of Callejos' brain, and they were found to be cancerous.

One of the most powerful Hispanic women in Dallas and the Southwest, Callejos never got discouraged in the fight for what she believed in.

"I got angry," she said. "That's why I led marches and led boycotts. Angry is my best suit."

During her career, Callejo served on the Dallas Housing Authority, the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport board, and several Hispanic organizations. She pressed for voter registration and participation, but never ran for elective office.

A champion for education, the Dallas Independent School District recently opened an elementary school named in her honor.

"I don't think there's a more worthy endeavor than to make sure that our childen get the proper education," she said. "There's just so many consequences to that."

Even after surgery, Callejo attended the dedication of her namesake school.

"Our family wishes to convey its heartfelt thanks for your countless prayers and endless faith in her full recovery," said family spokesman John David Gonzales in a written statement. "You are appreciated more than you shall ever know."

Funeral arrangements for Adelfa Callejo are pending.

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