He rubbed elbows with some of the top movers and shakers in Nueces County and was an outspoken champion for people with disabilties.

He also brought attention to the needs of children during holidays.

70-year-old Abel Alonzo passed away this week.

A former gang member who ended up in a wheelchair after being shot, Alonzo was laid to rest Thursday. He was remembered by some of the people whose lives he touched at the Nueces County Courthouse.

Alonzo was outspoken. He had a passion for fairness and civil rights for all -- especially for people with disabilities.

The Nueces County Courthouse was like a second home for Alonzo. He greeted everyone with a smile, and made friends with most of them.

"Abel was a person that came every day," Nueces County Receptionist Francisca Garcia said.

Garcia works the information desk at the courthouse and remembered Alonzo's kindness.

"One thing about Abel was that he always, every time he would eat, he always made sure to bring me a taco," Garcia said. "And he'd say, 'Here. I appreciate everything you did for me.'"

Alonzo had the gift of gab, easily making friends with some of the most influencial people.

"A great man," Justice of the Peace Joe Benavidez said. "Very involved in the community."

Alonzo helped Benavidez reach out to troubled kids in his courtroom.

"Abel was just a person that was very dear to trying to assist me in trying to put these kids in a different direction. A positive direction," Benavidez said. "So Abel, I know him very well. Always greeted him at the courthouse. A good man and man with commitment with the at-risk population."

"He was a very caring man," Judge Robert Vargas said.

Vargas considered Alonzo a friend.

"I got to visit with him at the hosptial actually, a few days before he passed. He was still very strong," Vargas said. "I told him I had missed him. I had been looking for him."

Vargas said Alonzo was the kind of person who didn't mince words.

"He was an opinionated man, but he had reached a stage in life where he could be," Vargas said. "And for that I respected him."

Alonzo would often attend trials just to listen in on our justice system.

"He was actually a foundation piece in the courthouse. Every time you walked in and every time you walked out, you'd see him, probably in that spot right there, talking to people," Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez said. "Always letting people know about the issues of what's actually going on in the community, and letting officials know what his concerns were, and neighborhood concerns were."

"He was a community activist and showed up at all the meetings," Judge Bobby Galvan said.

Galvan said Alonzo called himself an example of how a person can change.

"He tried to cousel kids on staying away from gangs and not getting into that lifestyle," Galvan said. "He tried to make himself as an example for why not."

Alonzo leaves behind a legion of friends who will always remember him as an inspiration to be positive, no matter the odds.

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