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Latino Daily News

Monday March 11, 2013

El Paso’s Raymond Telles Dies - 1st Big-City Latino Mayor and U.S. Ambassador

El Paso’s Raymond Telles Dies - 1st Big-City Latino Mayor and U.S. Ambassador

Photo: Raymond Telles, Former El Paso Mayor Dies

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The first Latino to be elected mayor of a major U.S. city, El Paso’s Raymond L. Telles, died at the California home of one of his children. He was 97.

Telles, born on Sept. 5, 1915 in the Texas border city, was of Mexican descent and for 68 years was married to Delfina Navarro.

After studying at Texas Western College, now the University of Texas at El Paso, Telles immediately began his career in the public sector with a position in the federal Justice Department.

He served in the Army and Air Force, rising to the rank of colonel.

Telles returned to El Paso, where he launched his political career in 1948 after being elected county clerk.

Later he was called up to serve in the Korean War, for which he received the Bronze Star, granted to those distinguished by their acts of heroism, acts of merit, or meritorious achievement or service in a combat zone

On Nov. 3, 1957, he was elected mayor of El Paso, a position he held for four years until 1961, when he was named by President John F. Kennedy as the first U.S. ambassador of Hispanic descent, a post he held in Costa Rica.

Telles is survived by his two daughters and several grandchildren.

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