“Charles W. Grace”

Grace, ex-Bexar judge, dies at 79
By Carmina Danini, San Antonio Express News
Aug. 6, 2002.

Former Bexar County Judge Charles W. Grace, 79, a stalwart of the liberal wing of the Texas Democratic Party, died Monday afternoon at Methodist Hospital after a lingering battle with cancer.

Grace served less than three years — 1964-1966 — as Bexar County's chief elected official. He was responsible during that time, however, for increased allocations for dependent and neglected children, improved purchasing procedures and finding a method to finance University Hospital.

Although his successor, the late Blair “Bruzzie” Reeves, is credited with creating the Metropolitan Health District, it came into being under Grace's tenure as county judge. In 1964, Grace bested four other candidates for the Democratic nomination for judge after the death in August of then-County Judge Charles Anderson. Grace defeated Republican candidate Crawford Reeder in November 1964 to claim the remaining two years and nearly two months of Anderson's unexpired term.

Grace ran for a four-year term in 1966, but he was defeated by Reeves in a bruising Democratic primary. Reeves did not have a Republican opponent in the November general election. Grace might have won had Reeves not won the support of then-Mayor Walter W. McAllister and the Good Government League-backed Community Progress Committee. Aligned with the Ralph Yarborough wing of the Texas Democratic Party, Grace was an unabashed liberal in an era when the conservative GGL dominated San Antonio politics and a conservative Democrat — John Connally — was governor. An advocate of the common man philosophy of President Andrew Jackson, Grace, who called himself a “Jacksonian Democrat,” often found himself at odds with what he called the “City Hall crowd.”

But that same crowd turned to Grace in August 1966 and asked him to intercede with Yarborough, then in the U.S. Senate. It was less than two years before the opening of HemisFair and a bill for $6.75 million in federal participation for the U.S. pavilion was held up in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The bill was crucial. Without it, HemisFair would not receive certification as a world's fair and other countries would not participate.

Grace, by then a lame duck, called his old friend in Washington and Yarborough succeeded in getting the bill passed. “The GGL did him in,” said Maury Maverick Jr., Grace's longtime friend and former law partner. “As Bexar County judge, he was an honest person who stood up for the least fortunate.” Hank Brown, former president of the Texas AFL-CIO, said Grace was a “friend of the working people.”

“He often represented people in workmen's compensation cases, and he only charged the minimum because he would let the worker get the bulk of the money,” Brown said.

Born Oct. 14, 1922, in San Antonio, Grace became active in politics when he was 16 and a senior at Texas Military Institute. He helped classmate Maverick campaign for the re-election of his father, Maury Maverick Sr., to Congress.

After obtaining his degree from St. Mary's University in 1941, Grace did post-graduate studies at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and worked as an administrative aide in the War Production Board.

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