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Arturo Vasquez, CPA Collection

 File
Identifier: Coll-267
The Arturo Vasquez, CPA collection includes birth, marriage, training and award certificates, correspondence concerning the American G.I. Forum, news clippings of Vasquez’s election as a Corpus Christi School Board Trustee, photographs and documents concerning his military service during WWII. The collection highlights his service and dedication to Mexican American social, economic, educational, and political equality.

Dates

  • 1924-2010

Creator

Language of Materials

English; Spanish

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

This material is made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright law. The user assumes full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to taking precautions against infringement of copyright and respecting the publication rights of reproduced materials. All rights are reserved and retained regardless of current or future development or laws that may apply to fair use standards. Any materials used should be fully credited with their source according to the example given in the Preferred Citation note. Requests for assistance with citations and images of publication quality should be directed to specialcollections@tamucc.edu

Extent

3 Linear Feet

Overview

Arturo Vasquez served as a financial advisor to Hector P. Garcia’s American G.I. Forum chapter. His collection includes information about his personal, military, and professional life as a CPA. He served as a School Board Trustee for the Corpus Christi Independent School District and other municipal and business organizations. Hispanic-American civil rights during the middle 20th century features heavily in this collection.

Biographical / Historical

Arturo Vasquez was born in Laredo, Texas, on December 13, 1924, to immigrant parents, Concepcion Escalante, and Rodolfo Garcia Vasquez. Vasquez was influenced by the stories of his great-uncles, Uncle Cenobio and Ysaac Garcia. Both were self-employed in profitable businesses and part of the Laredo community. Uncle Cenobio was heavily involved in Laredo’s annual Washington’s Birthday Celebration prior to his death in 1917. The Vasquez family did financially well until Uncle Ysaac died in 1932. Vasquez’s father then made his living as a street vendor. The Vasquez family had to cope with little food on the table, no shoes, and no electricity during the Great Depression.

While in high school, Vasquez joined the Laredo High School Journal, the Typing and Stenography Club, and became the club’s secretary and later treasurer. He worked part-time for the United States Weather Bureau, as an Airway Observer, and at a freight forwarding company, as a shipping clerk to help his family.

In May 1943, Vasquez graduated from Raymond and Tirza Martin Senior High School. He joined the United States Army Air Force. Arturo’s high school principal, J. W. Nixon, wrote a glowing recommendation. Vasquez was trained as an Aerial Nose Gunner in a B-24 Bomber. While training in Idaho, his brother was seriously injured on May 29, 1944, and their mother died the next day. On August 25, Vasquez and the crew were flying over enemy territory in Germany, fighting the Nazis.

On October 6, 1944, the plane Vasquez and crew were on was hit by flak, German anti-aircraft fire. Vasquez’s friend was killed. He reported, “I was in the nose gun turret. In all the confusion they were trying to get me out of there. I refused to leave my guns until we were on our way back. My gun turret lost its door. Flack was all around us for approximately 25 minutes…The only remains of my closest friend was flesh and blood all over the aircraft…our focus was on our mission to win the war. There was nothing we could do for our fallen comrades… I was patriotic and continued to fly.” In December, Vasquez suffered an appendix attack and recovered in a convalescent home. He turned twenty-years-old that month.

On March 30, 1945, Vasquez completed thirty-five bombing missions, ending his tour of duty over enemy territory. His commanding officer, Lt. Colonel Therman D. Brown, stated in a letter, “His general performance of duty, while a member of my command, has been of an excellent nature. His courage, devotion to duty, attitude and soldierly conduct have been exemplary. Sergeant Vasquez has been awarded the Air Medal and five (5) Oak Leaf Clusters to the Air Medal.” He also received the EAME (European-African-Middle Eastern) Theater Medal, a Good Conduct Medal, and an Aerial Gunner Badge. After being released from the Army, Vasquez and his Laredo friends enrolled at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin on the American GI Bill. He declared his major as accounting.

Vasquez worked part-time as a typist at UT and joined the Laredo Club and the Alba Club. It was at UT that Vasquez met Dr. Hector P. Garcia. Dr. Garcia, along with Dr. George I. Sánchez, and Dr. Carlos E. Castañeda, professors of Latin American studies, influenced Vasquez and the other young Mexican American veterans on Mexican American civil rights issues. Many of Vasquez’s Laredo/UT friends became civil rights lawyers, and some became judges: Arnulfo D. Azios, Eduardo Idar, Jr., Oscar M. Laurel, Sr., Honore Ligardo, Virgilio G. Roel, Robert (Bob) Sanchez, and Pedro (Pete)Tijerina. Vasquez became a member of Dr. Garcia’s American G. I. Forum (AGIF) in 1948. He was part of the original organizing members in forming AGIF with its founder, Dr. Garcia.

Vasquez graduated in 1949 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. He then moved to Corpus Christi to be a part of Dr. Garcia’s civil rights movement. He was deeply involved in working towards equality for Mexican American civil and veteran’s rights. He assisted in organizing the AGIF chapters in Texas and other states, he served as Dr. Garcia’s right-hand man and as financial adviser to the AGIF. Vasquez was the organization’s first National Executive Secretary and was involved with creating the AGIF logo. Vasquez was also a member of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and served as their National Treasurer.

Vasquez’s first job in Corpus Christi was at an office supply company as a bookkeeper and general assistant. Following in his uncle’s footsteps in June 1950, Vasquez opened his own bookkeeping business, named Arturo Vasquez, Bookkeeping, Tax Service, Business Reports, and Notary Public. In 1953, Vasquez became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and renamed his business, Arturo Vasquez and Company, CPA. Vasquez was the first Mexican American in Corpus Christi to operate a certified public accounting firm.

That same year, Vasquez met his wife, Marie del Carmen Leal, at Dr. Garcia’s office. Leal was with her mother in the doctor’s waiting room to see Dr. Garcia as patients. When it was time for Dr. Garcia to see Leal, he gently nudged her in her arm and pointed to Vasquez. Dr. Garcia said, “Marie, Marie he’s a good catch.” After a short courtship, they were married on October 30, 1953.

In 1971, Vasquez was involved in supporting the initial push to obtain the necessary private funding to start the Corpus Christi Economic Development Corporation (CCEDC). The non-profit organization was established to meet the needs of minority businesses. The initial funding was obtained from banks, churches, and the business community. Vasquez served as a board member and contributed many hours assisting staff and their clients. Vasquez’s team also contributed by conducting seminars sponsored by the then CCEDC and the Coastal Bend Minority Contractors Association.

In 1982, Arturo Vasquez and Company applied for a pilot program, as the first for-profit business in Corpus Christi, to contract with the Department of Commerce, to operate the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). The purpose of MBDA was to develop new minority businesses and assist existing minority businesses. Vasquez provided counseling and guidance, assisted in loan applications, and reviewed minority business accounting and financial reports to provide advice. Vasquez’s firm worked over two thousand (2,000) hours organizing, selecting, and training personnel, setting up an accounting system to comply with regulations. His firm sent the Department of Commerce daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly reports to the Department of Commerce Regional Office of MBDA in Dallas.

Vasquez’s business grew from Bookkeeping and Tax Departments, to include the Auditing Department. In the 1980s, Vasquez had a lock on non-profit organizational audits: the City of Corpus Christi, Nueces County, Del Mar College, Corpus Christi ISD, other surrounding school districts, appraisal districts, and Hispanic non-profit organizations. At that time, there were four primary accounting firms in Corpus Christi: Touche Ross & Company, Peat, Marwick, Mitchell & Company, and Arthur Andersen. The fourth accounting firm was Arturo Vasquez and Company. At that time, Vasquez was known as the “Hispanic Godfather of Auditing” by the young Corpus Christi Hispanic accountants.

Vasquez participated in the Corpus Christi community for educational issues and Mexican American civil rights issues. He served as a Corpus Christi school board trustee from 1953 to 1976. This included the contentious desegregation and school busing issues in the 1960s and 1970s. Many times, Vasquez was the lone dissenting voice against some of the racially charged voices on the board. He was also the first Corpus Christian to be on the Texas Education Agency Accreditation Board.

Vasquez’s energy and dedication was unending, he served as a board member for the Corpus Christi Chamber of Commerce; Driscoll Foundation Children’s Hospital; Corpus Christi Economic Development Corporation; Nueces County Hospital District; Corpus Christi Guidance Center (MHMR) as a liaison to CCISD; Paizano Girl Scout Council; and member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants; Corpus Christi Chapter of C. P. A’s; Texas Society of C. P. A.; Post Commander of the American Legion Post 248; Knights of Columbus Council 1202, 4th Degree; and UT Texas Exes.

Vasquez was self-employed for 43 years. He was recognized by the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy for maintaining his CPA license for fifty years at the University of Texas in Austin. He retired on November 8, 2003 with a record without any adverse action. Vasquez and his wife, Marie, had seven children. They were married for fifty-six years at the time of his death in 2010. Vasquez worked tirelessly for the Mexican American civil and veteran rights alongside Dr. Hector P. Garcia. He served as a financial advisor to many non-profit organizations in Corpus Christi and gave countless hours to the school board to better the education of Mexican American children in Corpus Christi. Vasquez’s legacy is one of justice and devotion to his people.

Arrangement

The collection is organized into six series and seven sub-series:

Series I: Personal Life Sub-Series: Early Family Life Sub-Series: Marriage to Marie Leal Vasquez Series II: Military Service during WWII Series III: Education Series IV: Professional Life Series V: Service to the Community Sub-Series: Civil Rights Organizations, American G.I. Forum Sub-Series: School Board Trustee Sub-Series: Other Municipal Organizations Sub-Series: Business Organizations Sub-Series: Religious Organizations Series VI: Photographs

Related Materials

Dr. Hector P. Garcia Papers

Processing Information

Lori Atkins, Amanda Kowalski, and Nicholas Vela worked to create the organization, description of the papers, and digitize images of the Arturo Vasquez, CPA collection in 2020 and 2021. Lori Atkins, with the help of Nadine Hefner, Arturo Vasquez's daughter, created the finding aid in March of 2021.

Title
Guide to Arturo Vasquez, CPA Collection
Status
Completed
Author
Nadine Hefner and Lori Atkins
Date
March 2021
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English; Spanish
Edition statement
1st

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives, Mary and Jeff Bell Library, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Repository

Contact:
6300 Ocean Dr.
Unit 5702
Corpus Christi TX 78412 United States
361-825-4500
361-825-5973 (Fax)