Weslaco: George Perce Garrett Jr., 78, passed away on Friday, August 4th, 2023, at Valley Baptist Medical Center. George was born on October 16th, 1944, to George Perce Sr. and Beulah Bell (Kerrell) Garrett in Astoria, Oregon.
George's parents had military careers; his father served in the US Army, and his mom in the US Navy. Their chosen professions required the Garrett family to relocate often, so George and his younger brother, William, were good at making new friends. The brothers shared a unique bond, being there for each other whenever necessary.
George followed in his dad's footsteps and joined the US Army, where he specialized in aviation. He was an airplane and helicopter pilot and served in Vietnam.
After being honorably discharged, George attended Kent State University and studied Business Administration and Management. Next, he studied Aviation Management at Pacific Western University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Aviation/Management and Operations.
George started his career selling helicopters. His knowledge and drive were a recipe for success. George sold helicopters to well-known celebrities and was awarded the highest achievement award, Salesman of the Century.
However, George's passion for law enforcement led him to join the CIA and moved to Washington, DC, to start his career. Later, George moved back to his hometown of Hermosa Beach, where he worked for over a decade as a Police Officer and Narcotics Investigator.
In the meantime, George's parents had retired in Weslaco, Texas. George met Mary Perez in 1993 in Weslaco, while he would go visit his ill father regularly. George and Mary were an instant match. After attending his father's funeral, George decided to move to Weslaco to start a new chapter in his life. He maintained a friendship with Mary where they became the best of friends and eventually husband and wife.
The City of Weslaco was abundantly favored in 1994 when George became the Director of Aviation and Airport Manager. George quickly embraced the mid-valley and was instrumental in the growth of our airport. Over the next thirty years, George supervised over eight million dollars in construction improvements. His leadership was crucial in attaining Landing Rights Designation for the Airport from US Customs, the first designation along the border in thirty years.
In 1998, George became the Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management for Weslaco, Donna, and Mercedes, serving over eighteen years. Additionally, in 2011, he accepted another role as the Emergency Management Coordinator, preparing the cities for emergency preparedness.
In 2001, George took on a second profession as an Adjunct Instructor for Texas A&M at the National Emergency Rescue and Response Training Center. For over a decade, George presented classes on Incident Command and Operations, acted as a mentor, and led the evaluation team.
George was deeply rooted in the community and volunteered continuously. He served as a Reserve Deputy Constable for nearly fifteen years. George was a member and served on the boards of numerous organizations. Some of them include the Former Intelligence Officers Association, Texas Narcotics Association, Emergency Management Association of Texas, International Association for Counterterrorism & Security Professionals, Special Operations Association, LRGV Development Council Homeland Security Advisory Committee, California Narcotics Officers Association, American Association of Airport Executives, and International Association of Emergency Management.
George's love for the community was witnessed by so many. The firefighters have fond memories of the meals he would provide after structure fires. The nurses of his last hospital visit at Knapp Medical Center will remember the gift cards that George gave them as a thank-you for the care they provided. He also volunteered as a security officer for the RGV Livestock Show for many years.
George was a pillar of our community. He had a compassionate heart and constantly sought opportunities to help others. He lived with the notion that the community should take care of the first responders and tried to lead by example. His leadership and dedication to the mid-valley are invaluable and unmatched, and his legacy is an inspiration.
George is preceded in death by his parents, George Perce Sr. and Beulah Bell Garrett.
He is survived by his loving wife, Mary Perez-Garrett; step-son, Damon Brown; brother, William Garrett (Barbara); sisters-in-law, Oralia P. Huggins (Robert), Dolores P. Garcia (Manuel, Jr.), and Francisca Vega (Robert, Sr.); brothers-in-law Eliazar Perez (Beverly J.), Luis Perez (Flor E.), Refugio Perez (Silvia) and Ricardo Perez (Raquel); and nephews and nieces, Eva Garrett, Roberto Vega, Jr. (Leslie), Mark A. Vega (Adrienne), Consuelo Vega, Benjamin A. Perez, Bernadette M. Garcia (Virgil), and John S. Perez.
Visitation will be held on Saturday, August 12th, 10 am, followed by a Celebration of Life, 11am, at McCaleb Funeral Home in Weslaco. George’s cremated remains will be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia at a later date.