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DALLAS Civil rights leader Adelfa Callejo is being remembered as a visionary, and treasured for giving a voice to the voiceless.

Callejo died early Saturday in Dallas after suffering a brain tumor.

A funeral mass is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe, 2215 Ross Avenue, in downtown Dallas.

The Dallas attorney used her influence and her affluence to empower children and activists, and to make strides in both education and immigration in the Hispanic community.

A friend said Callejo was known as 'La Madrina' 'The Godmother' of her community. She left a lasting legacy.

Dallas honored her by naming an elementary school after her. She will be remembered as a woman who always stood up for her beliefs.

'I got angry. That's why I led marches and boycotts. Angry's my best suit,' Callejo said with a laugh in a recent interview.

A friend put it best Saturday when describing Adelfa Callejo: She was steadfast in her beliefs, firm in her convictions and a strong woman who wouldn't back down.

Ever.

'With Adelfa, she would go with full force,' said former Dallas City Council member Pauline Medrano.

Callejo wore many figurative hats atop her signature bun: Attorney. Activist. Leader. Philanthropist.

But at the heart of it all, she was a woman who wasn't afraid to stand up to Dallas political leaders even if it made them uncomfortable.

'She would tell you exactly what she thought, and how it was going to play out,' Medrano said.

Adelfa Callejo was born near San Antonio in 1923, a Mexican-American woman who blazed her own trail, going to night school to get her law degree at a time when many women not just Latinos weren't even enrolling. She was a mainstay throughout the decades at marches and protests.

'I'm very encouraged by the fact that today we have a lot of Hispanic women attorneys,' she said in an interview. 'I know in 1961 I was the first one.'

It was in Pike Park, in the heart of Little Mexico, that Pauline Medrano has some of her best memories of Adelfa Callejo organizing and celebrating her biggest causes: Education and immigration.

'She stood up straight, she was vocal,' Medrano recalled. 'She's left a great legacy here in the City of Dallas.'

Former League of United Latin American Citizens president Hector Flores knew Callejo for 40 years. He said her work and commitment to LULAC was one-of-a-kind.

'Not only was she an educator and a mentor, but she also put her money where her mouth was,' Flores said.

Callejo was surrounded by family members when she died early Saturday from a brain tumor.

But friends say they don't want to focus on what we've lost with her passing, but rather what we've gained from her life.

'She's given us wings to fly; she's given us so much to be proud of,' Medrano said.

Adelfa Callejo was remembered by many of the state's top Latino leaders Saturday at the State Tejano Democrats convention in Austin.

Local Hispanic activist Domingo Garcia and his wife, Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia, were there tweeting their condolences.

State Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth gave the keynote speech - and also honored Callejo, calling her 'a leader, hero and mentor to people across North Texas ... a tireless advocate for Texas families and their right to vote.'

E-mail lzakalik@wfaa.com

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