Longest-serving city employee retires
With tear-filled words and a special celebration, the City of Mission bid farewell to Belinda Garza, who retired from employment at the end of January after 44 years. Mission honored Garza at the January city council meeting, presenting her with a service award for her dedication and commitment to the community.
Garza, known as Bel, was a member of the Speer Memorial Library family for about 36 years. Her final title with the city was library manager, where she handled the library finances, trained board members and helped fill out grants.
But before joining the library’s team, Garza wore many other hats as a City of Mission employee.
In 1978, fresh out of high school, Garza became the first municipal court clerk with the city. She said her late father pushed her to apply for the job.
“‘The court needs a secretary, the court needs a secretary,’” the retiree said, remembering her father’s words. “And knowing my dad, he kept on and on and on. Finally, I applied. Things were very different then.”
Garza worked in the municipal courts for eight years under Judge Arturo Leal. She was even a judge herself for six months. Garza then moved to work in emergency management under Fire Marshal Lucio Guerra Jr. for two years. Finally, in 1987 she moved to the library, where she remained for the rest of her career.
“I’ve learned a lot at the library. It’s a library — what can you not learn? I’ve had a lot of fun,” Garza said. “I know Angie, the finance director, asked me, ‘Why have you been here for so long? Guess you’ve enjoyed the ride.’ And yes, I’ve enjoyed the ride.”
Library Director Mayra Rocha struggled to speak between tears about Garza’s legacy during the special honoring at the Mission City Council Meeting. The honorary guest rubbed Rocha’s back and whispered, “It’s OK,” as the library director tried to express her appreciation. She described Garza’s service as invaluable to the community and thanked her for the past 44 years.
“I’ve seen the change and you have been part of the change and the growth of this community. You have played an important role in each position that you have held throughout your tenure. You have touched many lives, and we hope the city of Mission has touched yours as well,” the library director said to Garza. “To your family, thank you so much for lending her to us for these past years. We love you so much and we’re going to miss you.”
Throughout her time with Speer, Garza worked with four library directors. In her career, she saw six mayors lead the city. And Mayor Norie Gonzalez Garza, who is in her early 60s, said she has known the retiree since she was 13.
Belinda Garza said she saw many new faces come and go throughout her 44 years and is thankful for each one.
“It’s the best,” she said. “The City of Mission is the best, it really is.”
Speer Memorial Library Board Member Elizabeth Garza, who has worked with Belinda for about 30 years, also spoke to the lifetime of wisdom and know-how that the retiree possesses. There is no replacing her, she said.
“People will come and people will go but Belinda, you are one of a kind,” the board member said. “Truly you are of the utmost sincerity, kindness and knowledge.”
Cuz you’ll be miss by all who got to know you you are great woman you will always be remember by the city of Mission have fun on your retirement