March 28, 2017

George David "Red" Munger (1918-1996)

Red Munger was born on October 4, 1918 in Houston, Texas. The hard-throwing right hander was picked off the local sandlots by the Texas League’s Houston Buffs in March 1937, along with outfielder Gilbert Turner. The Buffs sent the youngster to New Iberia of the Evangeline League where he had an excellent rookie season, and split 1938 between New Iberia and Houston. He was traded twice, first as a pitcher for Springfield in 1939, and for the Sacramento Solons of the Pacific Coast League in 1940 and 1941. He made his major league debut with the St Louis Cardinals on May 1, 1943. He made 39 appearances for the Cardinals that year for a 9-5 record and 3.95 ERA. Red got off to an incredible start in 1944; as the all-star game approached he was 11-3 with a diminutive 1.34 ERA. The 6-foot 2-inch, 25-year-old was selected for the all-star game but on July 11, 1944 was selected for military service. He was sent to Jefferson Barracks in St Louis, before moving to Camp Roberts, California, where he quickly rose to squad leader. After 17 weeks at Camp Roberts, Munger was shipped to Fort Benning, Georgia. On April 14, 1945, he was commissioned a second lieutenant after graduating from Officers Candidate School and served at the base prison camp.

In May 1945, Red opened the baseball season for the Third Student Training Regiment Rifles at Fort Benning with a three hit, 5 to 0 win, striking out 13. On June 4, he set an Infantry School League record by striking out 16 in a 4-0 victory over the Columbus Foxes. It was his sixth win and fourth shutout of the season, allowing only one earned run in 58 and one-third innings. In September he struck out a further 15 and slammed a 375-foot home run in a 3-0 win over the Academy Regiment Profs. He finished the season with 14 wins and two losses. In late September 1945, while on leave from Fort Benning, Munger pitched for Finger Furniture in the Houston Post semi-pro tournament. Towards the end of 1945, Munger was sent overseas to Europe and stationed in Heidelberg, Germany for seven months. In late July 1946, he returned to the United States. His return to the Cardinals was eagerly awaited but after two years away from the major leagues he lacked the stamina and control that he seemed to possess in abundance before military service. He made two appearances to finish out the 1946 season, with a 2-2 won-loss record and 3.33 ERA. He was back in fine form in 1947, winning 16 games (including six shutouts) against just five losses, but that was to be his best season. Munger did manage 15 wins in 1949, but by 1952 it was all over apart from a brief comeback with the Pirates in 1956. After he retired as a player, Munger worked as a minor league pitching coach and worked as a private investigator with the Pinkerton Detective Agency in Houston during the off-season. Red Munger passed away in his hometown of Houston on July 23, 1996. Source

29° 42.722
-095° 18.507

Section 31
Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery

March 21, 2017

Robert Alton Gammage (1938-2012)

Robert Gammage was born March 13, 1938 in Houston and attended Milby High School there. He earned undergraduate degrees in Corpus Christi from Del Mar College and the University of Corpus Christi, obtained a master's degree from Sam Houston State University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Texas at Austin. He also earned an LLM from the University of Virginia School of Law. Before Gammage entered politics, he served in the United States Army and Navy, retiring as a captain in the United States Navy Reserve. Throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s, Gammage was employed on the faculty the University of Corpus Christi, San Jacinto College, and the South Texas College of Law. Gammage served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1971 to 1973. Gammage was a member of the so-called "Dirty 30," a bipartisan group of legislators that pushed for reform in the 1970s in the wake of the Sharpstown scandal in which then state House Speaker Gus Mutscher of Brenham in Washington County was convicted and sentenced to five years probation for conspiring to accept a bribe. As a legislator he advocated government reform, consumer and health legislation, voting rights for eighteen-year -olds, and equal rights for women. He was a member of the Texas State Senate from 1973 to 1976, when he was elected to the 95th Congress, having unseated then freshman Republican Ron Paul. He served only one term in Congress, having been unseated by Paul in 1978. From 1979 to 1980, Gammage was assistant state attorney general under Attorney General Mark Wells White. In 1980, he was a special consultant to the U.S. Department of Energy under U.S. President Jimmy Carter, the last Democrat to win the electoral votes of Texas.

In 1982, Gammage was elected as a justice to the Texas Third Court of Appeals in Austin and served in that position until 1991. He was elected in 1990 to the Texas Supreme Court, on which he served from 1991 until 1995. During his time on the bench Gammage participated in nearly 250 cases. He embraced an expansive interpretation of the legal doctrines and constitutional provisions that protect individual rights and equality. Gammage garnered national attention when he resigned from the Texas Supreme Court in 1995 to draw attention to the increasing amount of influence that campaign contributors and political action committees (PACs) had on judicial elections. Working with other proponents of judicial reform, including former Texas State Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas R. Phillips, Gammage was a key actor in bringing about caps on campaign contributions in judicial elections. In the late 1990s and early 2000s (decade), he taught at Sam Houston State University, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, Texas State University in San Marcos, and Roman Catholic-affiliated St. Edwards University in Austin. In 2006, Gammage lost the Texas gubernatorial Democratic primary election to former U.S. Representative Chris Bell of Houston. Bell was then defeated by incumbent Republican Rick Perry. On May 27, 2008, Gammage delivered the funeral eulogy for his former "Dirty Thirty" colleague Joseph Hugh Allen, a former representative from Baytown. Later in 2008, Gammage worked in the unsuccessful campaign to nominate Hillary Clinton for U.S. president, having traveled to Iowa to meet with voters. According to his wife, Lynda, he spent his last years often performing pro bono legal work for the needy. Gammage died at the age of 74 in his Llano home of an apparent heart attack on September 10, 2012.

30° 15.934
-097° 43.639

Monument Hill
Texas State Cemetery

March 14, 2017

Jose Francisco Ruiz (1783-1840)

José Francisco Ruiz, military officer and public official, was born about January 28, 1783, to Juan Manuel Ruiz and María Manuela de la Peña and baptized eight days later in the parish church of San Fernando de Béxar (now San Antonio). It is said that he went to Spain for his final years of schooling. In 1803 he was appointed San Antonio's schoolmaster. The designated site for the school was a house on Military Plaza acquired earlier by Juan Manuel Ruiz and passed on to his son. This same house, suffering from the ravages of time and business encroachment, was removed from its original location in 1943 and carefully reconstructed on the grounds of the Witte Museum, where it is still used for educational purposes. Ruiz was elected regidor on the San Antonio cabildo or city council in 1805. His duties involved assisting the síndico procurador (city attorney) in administering the affairs of a public slaughterhouse. In 1809 he was elected procurador. Beginning a long military career, he joined the Bexar Provincial Militia on January 14, 1811, with the rank of lieutenant. He joined the Republican Army at Bexar and served first under José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara and then José Álvarez de Toledo y Dubois. He took part in the battle of Medina on August 18, 1813, and with the defeat of the revolutionaries and a price on his head, Ruiz was "obliged to emigrate to the United States of the North." His nephew, José Antonio Navarro, who was also in exile, wrote of their "wandering in the State of Louisiana." When a proclamation of general amnesty was issued on October 10, 1813, to the Mexican insurgents, Francisco Ruiz, Juan Martín de Veramendi, and a few others were excepted. The Ruiz family was on the "List of Insurgents for the Month of March 1814". Ruiz remained in exile until 1822, and spent part of this time with the Indians. In 1821, at the order of Augustín de Iturbide, he "occupied himself in making peace with the Indians until he succeeded in getting the hostile tribes of the North, the Comanches and Lipans, to present themselves in peace."

In a letter to Antonio M. Martínez Ruiz writes that he will leave Natchitoches, Louisiana, on November 1, 1821, in compliance with the commission conferred on him by Gaspar López, commandant general of the Eastern Internal Provinces, and take the Indians to the capitol if possible. In 1822, his long exile ended, Ruiz returned to Texas, where he was appointed to the Mounted Militia. That same year he traveled with a party of Indians to Mexico City, where the Lipans signed a peace treaty ratified in September 1822 by the Mexican government. Ruiz was promoted in 1823 to army captain, unassigned, with the rank of lieutenant colonel. His commission was confirmed on September 23, 1825. On June 22, 1826, he wrote the president of Mexico requesting the command of a post. He was sent to Nacogdoches in December 1826 to help put down the Fredonian Rebellion, and by April 1827 he was in command of a detachment there. In 1828 Ruiz returned to Bexar, where he commanded the Álamo de Parras company and assisted Gen. Manuel de Mier y Terán in his study of the Texas Indians. It was probably during this time that Ruiz wrote his Report on the Indian Tribes of Texas in 1818, preserved in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. During his years in the military Ruiz gained the trust of the Indians as negotiator. The Shawnees referred to him as "A good man no lie and a friend of the Indians." With the passage of the Law of April 6, 1830, General Mier instructed Antonio Elozúa, military commandant in Bexar, to dispatch Ruiz with the Alamo de Parras company to establish a military post on the Brazos at the upper crossing of the Bexar-Nacogdoches road. Its primary purpose was to prevent further American colonization from this direction. Ruiz set out on June 25, 1830, with his company and kept a diary of the trip, in which he recorded their arrival at the Brazos on July 13, 1830. They chose a site on August 2 on the west side of the river, in what is now Burleson County, and gave their post the name Fort Tenoxtitlán. Colonel Ruiz encountered many difficulties as commandant of the fort-isolation, hostile Indians, and desertions and other crimes. The post suffered shortages of food, funds, and military personnel. In a letter to his friend Stephen F. Austin on November 26, 1830, Ruiz stated that he was tired of his command and wanted to get out of military service. He longed to obtain land and build a house so he could bring his family from Bexar and settle down as a rancher.

On October 16, 1831, he wrote Vice President Anastasio Bustamante asking to be separated from the army because of failing health. He outlined his military career and asked for retirement or a permanent leave. In a letter of November 13 to his friend and superior Elozúa, Ruiz described a debilitating illness that had impaired his hearing and caused his hair to fall out. On August 15, 1832, he received orders to abandon the fort and move his troops back to Bexar. Ruiz received his retirement and military pay from the Mexican government at the end of 1832. On January 17, 1836, James W. Robinson, lieutenant governor of the provisional government of Texas, appointed him one of five commissioners to treat with the Comanche Indians. When the struggle for Texas independence gained momentum in 1835, Ruiz allied himself with its cause. He traveled to Washington-on-the-Brazos in late February 1836 as a delegate to the Convention of 1836. There he and his nephew José Antonio Navarro signed the Texas Declaration of Independence on March 2, 1836, the only native Texans among the fifty-nine men who affixed their names to this document. Still away from his home in the service of the republic, Ruiz wrote his son-in-law, Blas María Herrera, on December 27, 1836, from Columbia, Texas. In this letter, still in family possession, he eloquently expressed his affection and longing for his family and his support for the young Republic of Texas. "Under no circumstance," he wrote, "take sides against the Texans . . . for only God will return the territory of Texas to the Mexican government." Ruiz represented the Bexar District as its senator in the First Congress of the Republic of Texas, from October 3, 1836, to September 25, 1837. He was a Catholic. He was married in San Antonio on March 8, 1804, to Josefa Hernández. They had four children, of whom one was Francisco Antonio Ruiz, alcalde of San Antonio during the battle of the Alamo. Besides the property Ruiz owned in and around San Antonio, in 1833 and 1834 he received eleven leagues of land that is now part of Robertson, Brazos, Milam, Burleson, and Karnes counties. Ruiz died in San Antonio, probably on January 19, 1840, and is buried there. Source

29° 24.937
-098° 30.740

Section 4
San Fernando Cemetery #1
San Antonio

March 7, 2017

James Howard (1841-1879)

James Howard was born James Brown in Newton, New Jersey, in 1841; it is not known why or when he changed his name. He entered the Union Army in Brooklyn, New York and enlisted in the Union army as a Sergeant in Company K, 158th New York State Volunteers on November 27, 1863. He was awarded the Medal of Honor on May 9, 1865 for his actions on April 2, 1865, near Petersburg (Battery Gregg), Virginia. He was to be promoted to Second Lieutenant but mustered out with his company on August 28, 1865 before the promotion took effect. Howard died of heart failure on November 8, 1879 and was originally buried at the post cemetery at Fort McKavett, but later reinterred in San Antonio National Cemetery.

Carried the colors in advance of the line of battle, the flagstaff being shot off while he was planting it on the parapet of the fort.

29° 25.287
-098° 28.022

Section E
San Antonio National Cemetery
San Antonio