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Crispin Eliseo Sanchez (December 15, 1925March 18, 2008) was a South Texas trailblazer in the fields of Mexican-American education and sports.

Early years, sports, education, military

Sanchez (first name pronounced CHRIS PEEN) was born to Pedro R. Sanchez (1893-1984) and Guadalupe V. Sanchez (1896-1977) in Gonzalesmarker, the seat of Gonzales Countymarker in southeast Texas. In the era of segregation, he attended a one-room school for Hispanic children. A halfback, running back, kicker, and punter, Sanchez was the first Mexican American to play football at Gonzales High School. His excellence at first base in baseball led to his drafting by the St. Louis Cardinals, but he declined the offer and instead followed his mother's advice and entered college. For a time he played with the former Gonzales Apaches. ("Apaches" is now the name of the Gonzales High School teams.)

During World War II, Sanchez joined the United States Army Air Corps, the forerunner of the Air Force. He was part of the Hell's Angels with the 303rd Bomb Group and was a tail gunner in a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. He flew 35 air combat missions. During the pivotal Battle of the Bulge in December 1944, he provided air relief to Allied ground troops in Belgiummarker with two .50-caliber machine guns.

On returning from the war, Sanchez entered Texas State Universitymarker in San Marcosmarker, then known as Southwest Texas State Normal School. In college, Sanchez met his future wife, Dora A. Garcia (1929-). He received his bachelor of arts degree, and the couple moved to her hometown of Laredomarker, the seat of Webb Countymarker in South Texas, where Sanchez began his long career in education.

Educational career

Sanchez taught sixth grade at Ryan Elementary School for the Laredo Independent School District. One of his pupils was Tony Sanchez (no relation), the Laredo business tycoon who in 2002 became the first Mexican American in state history to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Sanchez recalled Tony Sanchez as "the only redheaded [boy] in my class . . . freckle-faced, and reminded me a lot of Tom Sawyer."

Sanchez also procured his master of education from TSU. In 1964, when the doors of J. W. Nixon High School opened in Laredo, Sanchez became the assistant principal. In the summer of 1969, he traveled to Evanston, Illinoismarker, to study toward a doctorate degree in educational administration through Northwestern Universitymarker. When Sanchez returned with his Ph.D. in hand, he accepted an offer from Domingo Arechiga (1926-1987) then the president of Laredo Community Collegemarker (Laredo Junior College at the time) to become the dean of student services.

College athletic director

Sanchez doubled as the college athletic director and oversaw the creation of basketball (since disbanded) and baseball teams. One year LCC basketball was ranked No. 1 in the United States and the players were featured in Sports Illustrated magazine, recalled Sal Otero, former sports editor of the Laredo Morning Times.

Alberto Patricio Cardenas, Sr., who worked with Sanchez at both Nixon High School and in the counseling department at LCC, recalled that Sanchez was "always advocating for the rights of the students." Jose Roberto "Beto" Juarez of Laredo, the LCC academic dean at the time, credited Sanchez for strengthening the college's counseling and athletic departments. "We worked together many years, and he was very cooperative in terms of handling any student problems," according to Juarez.

Death and legacy

In 1993, Sanchez retired from LCC with twenty-three years of service. After he several years working with his son Pedro "Pete" Sanchez, he moved to San Antonio, to share in the lives of his daughters and their families. He died of a sudden illness. He was survived by five children: Sandra S. Johnson (born 1949), Pete Sanchez and wife Lydia, Irene S. Galo and husband Bradford, Hugo G. Sanchez and wife Mary, and Laura J. Sanchez. There were also thirteen grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. He is interred in his family plot at Calvary Catholic Cemetery in Laredo.

Robert Ochoa, the current LCC dean of student affairs, who worked under Sanchez for more than two decades, said that Sanchez helped many students to gain acceptance into four-year schools, medical schools, and dental programs.

Laredo Community College honors Sanchez through the naming of the Crispin "Doc" Sanchez Baseball Field.


  1. Social Security Death Index Interactive Search
  2. Laredo Morning Times - Sanchez carried LJC athletics on his shoulders
  3. Gonzales Inquirer Online
  5. Sanchez obituary, Laredo Morning Times, March 22, 2008, p. 15A
  6. Laredo Morning Times - Pals excited to open spring schedule

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