Manny Perez was a fighter.
He fought political battles. Indeed, he actually did put on the gloves and fight with his dukes. The former Golden Gloves boxer was pretty good at inflicting punishment in the ring.
He couldn’t live forever, though. Perez died in 2011 from surgical complications. He left behind a legacy of working for the folks who elected him multiple times from his Potter County Commissioners Court precinct.
Well, this week, Perez’s name was unveiled on a bridge at Grand Street in Amarillo. He wanted that bridge built and argued for it for many years.
It’s a fitting tribute to this dedicated public servant.
That’s just Manny. That often would be the response one would get when discussing one of Perez’s tirades against this or that individual, organization or cause. Perez didn’t speak with much delicacy or precision. He spoke from deep within his gut.
He and I had our share of disagreements during our professional relationship over many years. I edited the opinion pages of the Amarillo Globe-News and we took Perez to task on occasion over policy disputes. He didn’t like being challenged.
He’d call and bitch at me about what we had said. During the course of his angry response he’d usually say something like, “I don’t need your support. I don’t want it. All I care about is the people.”
I would respond with something like, “Fine, Manny. But we aren’t going to change our mind and you won’t change yours.” Then he might say he wouldn’t speak to me “ever again.” He’d call later and we’d talk as if the previous conversation never happened.
We were on good terms when Perez died. I’m grateful for that.
I also am glad to see his name on the Grand Street bridge.