EL PASO, Tx - Family and friends of El Paso's first Hispanic mayor gathered to say a final goodbye.
Funeral services for former mayor Raymond Telles, 97, were held this morning at at St. Ignatius church.
Local leaders came to pay homage to the man who broke the racial barrier at a time when the fight for civil rights just gained ground across the country.
Looking into his past and talking to his peers, one can realize just how important the former mayor was to El Paso and how much he will be remembered by those who knew him.
"It's a very sad occasion for my family, however being surrounded by so many loving people in El Paso has given me a great sense of strength," said Telles' daughter Patricia.
Family members slowly and carefully carried the flag-drapped casket into the church while El Paso's present-day leaders paid tribute to a former leader who helped pave the way.
"I know that the love that they felt for my father, I feel it tremendously. I have to say that he taught us so many wonderful lessons and I think of him almost everyday in my job," said Patricia.
Lessons the former mayor left behind -- for the politicians of the future.
"He left a tremendous legacy. He set the bar really high for any other mayor that was going to follow in his footsteps," said El Paso mayor John Cook.
Raymond Telles was the first Hispanic mayor in the country during a time when civil rights were being debated in communities across the nation.
ABC-7 found pictures of Telles' ribbon cutting for the grand openning of the El Paso Art Museum on Montana St.
Another picture shows Telles a year later breaking ground at Basset Place Mall.
Former U.S. Rep. Sylvestre Reyes personally knew Telles.
"He was a giant in our community. He broke the path as a mayor and then as an ambassador," said Reyes.
Telles was also appointed as ambassador to Costa Rica by President John F. Kennedy in 1961.
But even though he worked under four presidents, set the path for a surge of Mexican-American politicians to come, he'll be remembered mostly by his family as simply a loving husband and father.
"He is an incredible mentor, a loving father and a wonderful leader, and we will miss him tremendously," said Patricia.
Raymond Telles was buried at Evergreen Cemetary.