HOUSTON - Harris County`s first African-American commissioner, El Franco Lee, has died of a heart attack at age 66.
Commissioner Lee made his mark on Houston. You need only see the El Franco Lee Health Center or El Franco Lee Park or El Franco Lee Aquatic Center to note his presence and good works.
Alan Patterson is pastor at a church in Houston's Fifth Ward. "Much of those projects you see across the street and buildings are the result of the influence of El Franco Lee. He's a pillar in the community, he's protected this community, been a provider for this community through government funds and he's just been a real blessing to the Fifth Ward area of Houston," said Patterson.
Commissioner Lee was a Houston native, a graduate of Wheatley High School and Texas Southern University.
Mayor Turner noted Commissioner Lee`s passion was "helping seniors and improving quality of life for underserved youth and young adults in the inner city." Lee said he was driven by his own upbringing and large family and his upbringing in the Fifth Ward.
"Those early years are still influential in my existence today," said Lee in a recent video presentation. "All of those snapshots and snippets of things are embodied in the things I do today as a public servant," said Lee.
His dedication to improving social services, health care, educational and vocational needs for Harris County youth will be embodied in his legacy.
Commissioner Lee was first elected as a state representative in 1979 where he served until he became a county commissioner in 1985. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said, "Not only has Harris County lost a tireless and devoted public servant, but many of us have lost a true friend."
Mayor Turner has ordered city flags to fly at half-staff.