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He married his wife, Emma, in 1949 in Laredo, and they had five children, 10 grandchildren and one great grandchild.

retired for the second time. "We really need to graduate more of the young people of the Valley in medicine, because they are the ones most likely to spend their lifetimes here."

STC named the new center The Dr. Ramiro R. Casso Nursing and Allied Health Center when it opened in fall 2000 at 1101 E. Vermont Ave. It enrolled 697 students that semester, became a full service campus in 2008 and now serves more than 1,200 students, thanks in part to the $4.1 million Casso helped raise for it.

Indeed, Dr. Casso was a renowned force within the Rio Grande Valley as a doctor, educator, activist and namesake of South Texas College's Nursing and Allied Health Center.

"My favorite memory of him is walking into Luby's many, many Sundays and seeing him at a table with all of his children," she said. "You could see the love and affection that that family had, and that always moved me. I will always take that with me, and wish I could walk into Luby's and see Ramiro Casso and his wife and children.".

Crdenas recalled Dr. Casso as a kind man who always made time to send her handwritten notes of congratulations on university accomplishments.

He enrolled at Texas A University at age 17, served Omega Seamaster Nato Strap

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"We got a sense of how he was different," David Casso said. "It would be hard to go places where people didn't know him and come up and say hello and tell stories about how he helped them."

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Dr. Casso made strides toward that goal with such success that, at the end of his life, many of the professionals attending to him were a result of it.

"When I first came here in 1957, for a couple of years I did home deliveries, Omega Speedmaster Mk Iii and Dr. Lauro Guerra and I decided we needed to have a clinic," a 2002 Monitor story quoted Dr. Casso saying. for dinner and ask each other, 'How many patients did you see today?' And we'd say 'Oh, about 100.'"

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like Dr. Casso who have made the Rio Grande Valley a better place to live.

as an Army artillery captain in World War II, completed medical school and established a private family practice in McAllen.

Dr. Casso retired for the first time at 73 after having spent 37 years in his practice, delivering more than 2,000 babies and treating many uninsured residents.

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Dr. Blandina "Bambi" Crdenas, former president of the University of Texas Pan American, called the doctor a trailblazer in politics as well as in medicine, citing his ultimately unsuccessful bid for mayor in 1981 against Othal Brand.

Dr. Senate committee on migrant health and served on boards ranging from the Texas Board of Health and Texas Human Rights Commission to the McAllen Independent School District and the McAllen General Hospital.

Born Aug. 4, 1922, in the Buenos Aires Colonia of Laredo, Dr. Casso grew up working as a garbage collector for $1 per day and selling newspapers to help put food on the table.

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A desire to help give health care access to the underserved led Dr. Casso to create a charity clinic for migrant farm workers in southwest McAllen. The clinic later became the Hidalgo County Health Care Corp., and Dr. Casso received the Bishop Medeiros Golden Deeds Award for his work there.

civil rights pioneer Ramiro Casso dies at 88

"My goal has been to increase medical education and medical training in the Valley," Dr. Casso said in a 2002 Monitor story when he Omega Constellation Pie Pan

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Friends of Dr. Casso expressed sadness Friday at the loss.

"He was always ready and willing to give me his advice and counsel," Hinojosa said. "I appreciate Hispanic pioneers Omega Speedmaster Broad Arrow Review

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"At a critical time in McAllen's history he, like a number of people in his generation, stepped up to the plate," she said.

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Just when he had decided it was time to quit, South Texas College President Shirley Reed asked the newly retired physician to help start the school's nursing program in 1995. Dr. Casso served as the first director of the college's Nursing and Allied Health Division and later became the college's vice president for institutional advancement. Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D Mercedes), who met Dr. Casso in 1974, credited him with bringing the nursing program to fruition.

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"Because of Dr. Casso's hard work . .

"It is refreshing to Dad and the family to know that so many of those caring for him at the hospital were trained at his own 'Dr. Ramiro R. Casso Nursing and Allied Health Center,'" Sylvia Casso said in a message shared by STC President Shirley Reed.

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