Deemed one of the best lawyers in the United States, Florentino Garza, Inland Empire resident and army vet has passed away

Florentino Garza, 94, was not only committed to justice, his community, and mentorship – he was also deemed one of the best lawyers in the United States by his peers.

He peacefully passed away in Loma Linda on November 18 and is survived by his wife, Regina “Sandy” Garza, his sons, grandchildren, in-laws, nieces, nephews, and friends.

The Texas native earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of New Mexico (1950), a Master’s Degree from University of New Mexico (1952), and a Juris Doctorate Degree from the University of California Los Angeles (1956); all during a time when universities and the field of law were not saturated with Latinos.

The U.S. Army Veteran went on to represent clients on high-profile cases in the Inland Empire and across the nation; eventually becoming San Bernardino County’s Bar Association-President in 1976.

But what many do not know is how his mentorship brought opportunity and inspired the lives of many, including Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gómez Reyes.

“I met Tino when my husband, Frank, invited me to a MEChA meeting at SBVC in the early 1980s. After I became an attorney, I practiced law in Los Angeles until I was hired by Garza, Jure, and King as the new associate attorney. I recognized the extraordinary privilege that was given to me and I was often asked by new attorneys how I got the job because they had been trying to get into the firm,” said Reyes.

“Tino’s mentorship was extremely important to my life, my legal career, and my political career.  He emphasized the importance of hard work, detailed work, honest work, and civility.  He was respected and beloved by the community as a whole and, most certainly, the legal community.  He demonstrated the true value of a person’s word, honest dialogue, and the value of compromise,” continued Reyes.

As a Latina, Reyes said she was inspired by Garza’s contribution to the field of law, his community, and his loved ones.

“As a Latina, as an immigrant, as a person who came from humble beginnings, I was inspired by Tino and by his accomplishments. He was recognized locally, statewide, nationally, and internationally. His list of accomplishments could fill a book, but that’s not what defined him. He was most proud of making a difference in the lives of individuals. He was proud to use his accomplishments to open doors for others and to represent those who couldn’t afford an attorney of his caliber – and then win with grace,” Reyes said.

One recurring sentiment expressed by many of his peers is his endless love and support for the community.

“I’ll remember Tino’s quiet strength and his humble affection for the community. I’ll remember him as the greatest attorney of the Inland Empire, who could’ve been a California Supreme Court Justice, but instead spoke eloquently in favor of Justice Cruz Reynoso – who was appointed. I’ll remember him as my legal partner who once took a chance with this young Latina attorney to help mold me into the person I am today. I’m a better person, a better attorney, and a better representative because he was my mentor,” concluded Reyes.

A memorial service and celebration of life will be held Thursday, December 16, 2021, at 2:00 pm, First Presbyterian Church, 1900 North “D” Street, San Bernardino, California. Should friends desire, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to First Presbyterian Church, San Bernardino, California, and/or Menaul Presbyterian School, Albuquerque, New Mexico.


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