Adelfa <I>Botello</I> Callejo

Adelfa Botello Callejo

Millett, La Salle County, Texas, USA
Death 25 Jan 2014 (aged 90)
Dallas, Dallas County, Texas, USA
Burial Dallas, Dallas County, Texas, USA
Plot Garden of Whispering Waters, Block B, Lot 21
Memorial ID 130093980 · View Source
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Adelfa Callejo
Hispanic lawyer was a tireless champion of civil rights

Dallas lawyer Adelfa Botello Callejo relished the fight when it came to the causes she embraced. "And Lord knows, I've had plenty," she once said. Among them: poverty, immigration, organized labor, women's issues and increased Latino political influence.
La Madrina, or Godmother, as she was known to many, struggled against multiple forms of cancer and most recently battled cancerous brain tumors with the same zeal that characterized her decades of standing strong for Latino civil rights. A judge once joked of her tenacity, "I feel sorry for the cancer." Callejo died Saturday at age 90.
Even as she fought cancer, she found time to meet with Dallas schools Superintendent Mike Miles about ways to assure the best possible education for DISD students — and to take him to task about the lack of diversity in his top leadership circle.
Callejo could be feisty and intimidating, but was also magnanimous. The daughter of a migrant-worker father and a mother who left school after the second grade, she made the decision at age 5 to become a lawyer. In 1961, she became the first Hispanic woman to graduate from Southern Methodist University's Dedman School of Law. Callejo is one of only 12 lawyers on the Texas Bar Association's Legal Legends list.
She constantly hammered on the need for Latino youths to have strong, well-educated role models.
"We've got local leaders, but we don't have a national leader," she said. "Until we get a national leader who can lay out the agenda and lay out a plan to reduce the number of dropouts and increase the graduation rate, we're not going anywhere. It's going to be up to us to be the role models, to say, ‘Look, I am where I am because of my parents, because of my education.' "
Callejo's provocative words backfired from time to time. Before the Texas Democratic primary in 2008, a television reporter asked her why candidate Barack Obama lacked a broad Hispanic following. She responded, "Obama simply has a problem that he happens to be black."
A racial controversy ensued, but Callejo recovered and forged ahead. A Dallas school now bears her name.
"When Adelfa was out there on the streets picketing and marching, many people criticized her many times because she was a female, and other times because she was Hispanic," DISD trustee Nancy Bingham said in 2009. "Children need role models of people who are not going to give up."
Callejo's tenacity didn't always win her admirers, but it won her — and those she represented — results.
-- Editorial from the Dallas Morning News, Monday, January 27, 2014, page 10A.

Adelfa Botello Callejo (June 10, 1923 - January 25, 2014)

Adelfa Botello Callejo, passed away on Saturday, January 25, 2014. She was born in Millett, Texas on June 10, 1923,
Adelfa came into the world to make it better than she found it and more than successfully achieved her mission. Attorney, prolific civil rights leader, brilliant entrepreneur, philanthropist and humanitarian extraordinaire she ascended from humble beginnings and became the voice of the defenseless and the Hispanic community. She shook the foundation of our great city and made us acutely aware of the injustices perpetrated upon the undereducated. For Adelfa, everything was achievable and impossible was nothing.
Adelfa empowered our democracy by inexorably promoting voter registration and education throughout the course of her entire life. She represented countless women who could not defend themselves in their familial situations and infused them with self-esteem and confidence. She humbled her opponents concerning the issue of immigration through tenacity and common sense. Adelfa paved the way for minority entrepreneurs to achieve success by serving on an innumerable number of civic boards, thus, opening previously closed doors. She was the consummate visionary who fully realized the power of bilingual education and political activism.
Larger than life itself, she rose to prominence through extraordinary sacrifice. She held a fulltime job by day and attended undergraduate and law school at night for ten years. Just a few of her accomplishments are represented by her service as Past Director of the State Bar of Texas, Past President of the Dallas County Criminal Bar Association, Executive Board member of the SMU Dedman School of Law, former Regional President of the Hispanic National Bar Association, Member of the President Clinton Think Tank, Trustee/Founder of the North Texas Voted Education Trust, Chair of the Dallas Housing Authority, Founder and Past President of the Mexican American Bar Association, Member of the D/FW Airport Board, Member of the DART Board, Member of the Municipal Library Board, Lifetime Member of the League of United Latin American Citizens, Board member of Kaiser Permanente and countless others.
Her recognitions, honors and awards were virtually perpetual in nature and was also recognized in the professional sports industry as a recipient of the NFL Latino Leadership Award. However, she acknowledged being named as one of only twelve Texas Legal Legends by the State Bar of Texas and the naming of the Adelfa Botello Callejo Elementary School were her two greatest honors and achievements.
Above all, however, was her depth of love for her family and husband, William F. Callejo. She and Bill were married for sixty-seven years and their love for each other never waned. Bill's ability to wisely invest permitted Adelfa the independence to address any issue she so desired. She adored her sisters, brothers, and nieces and nephews. Regardless of our omissions or commissions, notwithstanding our errors, Adelfa defended her family with fervent passion. She was the consummate Matriarch of our family through her compassion, wisdom, counsel, love and leadership.
She is survived by her husband, Bill Callejo, her sisters Connie Gonzales and Lily Velasquez, brother-in-law Ricardo Callejo, her nieces Libby Botello Marchetti, Jeri-Ann Mullaley, Linda Botello, Franchesca Callejo Brighton, Debbie Botello Maxwell and nephews Stephen Velasquez, Michael Gonzales, Felix Botello, John Robert Gonzales, Victor Botello, Tony Botello and John David Gonzales. Her brothers preceding her in passing are Ricardo, Gilbert and Felix Botello.
The visitation will be at Sparkman-Hillcrest from 6-8PM on Wednesday, January 29, 2014 and the Rosary shall commence at 7PM and will be led by Reverend Jonathan Austin. Mass will be celebrated by Most Rev. Kevin J. Farrell, D.D., Bishop of Dallas Celebrant at 10AM on Thursday, January 30, 2014 at the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of Guadalupe with a reception from 11:30M-1PM to follow. A private family burial will follow.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Jude's Chapel Downtown Dallas or MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

Remembering Dallas Civil Rights Activist and Attorney Adelfa Callejo
Adelfa Botello Callejo, a longtime civil rights leader and attorney in Dallas, died early Saturday from a brain tumor. She was 90.
Callejo endured three bouts with cancer, including colon and breast cancer. In an email to friends, her nephew John David Gonzales described her as a "giant among giants who became a Texas legal legend and philanthropist who dedicated her life to the promotion of education."
Callejo was born in Millett, south of San Antonio, on June 10, 1923. Her father was from Mexico and her mother was Mexican-American. She picked cotton as a child to help her family make ends meet. At a young age, she learned about discrimination when she noticed there were two cemeteries in her hometown – one for Mexican-Americans who had died during World War II, the other for Anglos.
She would go on to study at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, attending school at night and working as a secretary by day. She was the first Latina to graduate from SMU with a law degree.
She spent more than four decades at the Dallas law firm, Callejo & Callejo, where she took on personal injury, family and criminal law cases. She became known as a fierce civil rights advocate. In April 2013, the Dallas Independent School District opened an elementary school named in her honor.
A community memorial is planned for Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Latino Cultural Center in Dallas. The Adelante con Adelfa (Moving Forward with Adelfa) committee is organizing the event. The group says the community is invited to share its thoughts and memories, participate in an open mic session and leave written notes that will be delivered to Callejo's family.
There will also be a viewing Wednesday at Sparkman-Hillcrest Funeral Home from 6 to 8 p.m. Rosary will be at 7 p.m. A mass will be held Thursday at 10 a.m. at the Cathedral Guadalupe in Downtown Dallas.
A.C. Gonzalez, the Dallas city manager, released this statement:
"Adelfa Callejo will be missed, but her impact lives on. She was one of the first in Dallas to effectively challenge the status quo related to barriers for minorities' advancement. She did so always in a thoughtful and respectful manner, but she never faltered and never gave up. Our city is a better place because she cared so much about our community."
The Dallas Hispanic Bar Association on Monday released the following statement:
The Hispanic community lost one of its finest advocates on Saturday with the passing of Adelfa Botello Callejo. Callejo was one of the founding members of the predecessor organization to the Dallas Hispanic Bar Association (DHBA), the Mexican American Bar Association of Dallas. Callejo was a kind, generous soul who was always willing to give her support to individuals in need. But her legacy is much greater than that. She advocated tirelessly for changes intended to give Hispanics the tools needed to lift ourselves up and succeed. She laid the foundation for many of us to achieve, and we mourn the loss of a leader, a mentor, and a role model.

Family Members


  • Created by: Bob Bardo
  • Added: 20 May 2014
  • Find a Grave Memorial 130093980
  • Bob Bardo
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Adelfa Botello Callejo (10 Jun 1923–25 Jan 2014), Find a Grave Memorial no. 130093980, citing Restland Memorial Park, Dallas, Dallas County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by Bob Bardo (contributor 48069300) .