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Fidel Garcia, Jr.: Tribute to the “Gentle Giant.”

On May 30, 2017, the Texas investigative community lost a giant – Fidel Garcia, Jr., who died in the line of duty while apprehending a felony fugitive from justice. Fidel, at 6 feet 5 inches, cut an imposing figure. Behind the large stature, though, lay a quiet nature and a kind, giving heart. He was often, appropriately referred to by many who knew him as the “Gentle Giant.”

Although Fidel was a widely recognized expert and authority in his professional roles as private investigator, personal protection officer, firearms instructor, deputy constable, and recovery agent, he never bragged.

A humble man whose actions spoke louder than his words, Fidel was firmly dedicated to serving others. He did so in a quiet, unassuming fashion, always shunning the limelight. When Hurricane Ike struck the Houston area in 2008, he spearheaded efforts to provide badly needed supplies to fellow investigators and law enforcement officers, and with his own strong hands cleared tons of debris—never desiring reimbursement or recognition.

For many years Fidel was affiliated with the Texas Association of Licensed Investigators (TALI), where he held the premier TCI certification and faithfully served in a variety of capacities, including numerous terms as a regional and at-large director. No task was too large or too small – he was always ready and willing to assist with any need, and rarely missed any official function. Having been term-limited as a director, he was thrilled last April to volunteer and receive unanimous board approval to serve as the official photographer for TALI. In reality, he had already skillfully operated for the past decade in this capacity—in addition to his other uncompensated duties.

Corpus Christi was a safer place because of Fidel’s service to the community—he held the master peace officer certification and for more than a decade presided over the firearms proficiency and training program of the Nueces County Constable’s office. Furthermore, he served extensively as a reserve deputy at no cost to the citizens he was protecting.

As a highly successful fugitive recovery agent, Fidel was tough yet compassionate. He was described by many as a “bulldog” who was relentless in his pursuit of felons on the run. Few eluded him. However, those who were captured were treated with respect and fairness. When returning prisoners to distant courts, Fidel would ensure that they were properly treated and fed. Instead of junk food in the back seat of the car, he would buy them a hot meal – often a steak dinner – and allow them to stretch their legs. He once commented to a client, “It’s probably the last good meal he’ll have for quite a while.”

Undoubtedly, though, the area where Fidel was most dedicated was his family. He was a devoted son, brother, dad, and grandad who would not hesitate to drive all night to make it to a birthday party, anniversary celebration, wedding, or school event. He was the rock of the family, and many a tear was shed upon his strong shoulders. Fidel was to be married on September 1. To his wife-to-be, he was her light and joy. The first place he would go when returning from an out-of-town assignment was wherever she happened to be, so he could kiss her and tell her he loved her. Those were his final words to her.

Fidel Garcia, Jr., our “Gentle Giant,” left large, indelible footprints. Few could ever fill his shoes.