The Bell Ringer

978-1-57441-846-0 Cloth
6 x 9 x 0 in
224 pp. 15 b&w illus.
Pub Date: 12/06/2021


  • Cloth $29.95

This is the story of Victor Rodriguez, a man who began life with few advantages but who had continuing encouragement to persevere from the people who knew him best. From his earliest days in South Texas in the 1940s he broke many barriers. He and his sisters were among the first children in their town to advance from the fourth grade of the Mexican American school to the Anglo school and then to high school. As a football player and track star he set records and won trophies at Edna High School, at Victoria College, and at North Texas State College. At each stage of his education, he often found himself the only Mexican American in his group.

His prowess in sports was based on the endurance he developed as the bell ringer for the church in Edna, when his teacher assigned him the task in the third grade as his “personal civic responsibility.” For nine years he rose at 4 a.m. to jog two miles to the church, dodging dogs along the way, to ring the bell before Mass. Within a decade, that commitment would serve him well as he distinguished himself as a standout in school and college cross-country running and track athlete. He earned the first Hispanic scholarships as an athlete at both Victoria Junior College and North Texas State College.

After earning his degree at North Texas State in 1955, he began a career in the San Antonio School District (SASD) as a teacher and coach in Cooper Middle School. Subsequently he became coach at Lanier and then Highlands high schools, where he took track teams to new titles and fostered individual athletes to personal achievements. After a series of promotions through the administration of SASD, he retired in 1994 after twelve years as Superintendent of the District. As a pioneer Mexican American educator in San Antonio, he brought dignity and respect to the people of the Westside, where he remains a role model today.

Al Filo: Mexican American Studies Series

Published by University of North Texas Press