EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — A personality that could fill a room, that’s how so many El Pasoans remember longtime State Representative and State Senator H. Tati Santiesteban who died Thursday from complications from COVID-19.
Santiesteban, who would have turned 86 next week on Election Day, served as State Representative from 1967 to 1973 and was then elected as State Senator from 1973 until 1991. During his time as the Texas Legislator, Santiesteban was known as a champion for the Hispanic community.
“He passed a lot of bills that helped Hispanics,” Stacy Blagrund, Santiesteban’s daughter, told KTSM. Along with former State Representative Paul Moreno, he is credited with desegregating schools in Alpine, Texas.
Born in 1934, Santiesteban attended the New Mexico Military Institute and served as a 1st Lieutenant in the Army before attending law school at the University of Texas at Austin.
Only three Senators — Peggy Rosson, Eliot Shapleigh, and Jose Rodriguez– have served since Santiesteban left the Texas Legislature in 1991.
“Senator Santiesteban was a giant of a man in the Texas Legislature. During my ten years in the Texas Senate, other Senators frequently inquired about Tati. ‘How is Tati doing?’ they would ask, a testament to his cordial relationship with Senators on both sides of the aisle,” said State Senator Jose Rodriguez Friday evening. “He will be missed.”
Blagrund said her father became ill about a week and a half ago and was admitted to Providence Memorial Hospital on October 19 for breathing problems. He tested positive for COVID-19 a short time later and rapidly deteriorated.
Santiesteban is survived by his sister, Monica Santiesteban Johnson; children, Lori Whittenton, Stacy Blaugrund, and Ricard ‘Ricky’ Tati Santiesteban. He also had six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.