Being politically conservative, I often disagreed with Carlos Guerra’s columns that ran on Section B of the San Antonio Express-News. He didn’t like President George W. Bush, and he also felt the rich didn’t do enough to help the poor.
Once, I decided to write to Carlos and tell him how misguided I felt he was.
One e-mail turned into several. Throughout it all, Carlos maintained unfailing politeness.
It gave me a lot to think about.
Over the next few years, I would email him about this or that topic, and it remained the same civil tone. My correspondence with him evolved from disagreeing to getting his opinion and carefully reading what he wrote. Among the things we discussed: whether San Antonio would get an NFL franchise (Carlos believed San Antonio lacked the market needed to sell out luxury suites), whether nor not newspapers should endorse political candidates (surprisingly, we both agreed they should not) and an excellent place for barbecue down in the Corpus Christi area, Cotten’s BBQ (both of us were South Texas boys: Carlos was from Robstown, and I grew up in Beeville).
I grew to like him very much and, while I often disagreed with him, I enjoyed reading his columns because it was as if Carlos knew the pulse of San Antonio. Carlos became one of my favorite Express-News columnists. If you wanted to know what was happening in San Antonio and in Texas a decade ago, Carlos’ columns served as an excellent barometer.
Early on in my e-mails, I referred to him as “Mr. Guerra.” That quickly ended as he insisted I call him “Carlos,” telling me that “Mr. Guerra” was his father.
I never spoke to Carlos on the phone and never met him, and while I lived in Michigan from late 2004 until finally returning home in August 2013, I often thought that when I returned to Texas, how fun it would be to meet him, buy him coffee somewhere and chat. Life has taught me that when you find someone you like, why ruin that friendship by dwelling on the disagreements?
Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.
In 2010, I was shocked to see that Carlos had passed away. Reading an article on him in the Express-News, I learned he’d retired following some sort of buyout from the newspaper, and that at the time of his death, he was embarking on a new career in public relations.
As saddened as I was to hear about his death, I also found his retirement sad. It was indeed the end of an era. Some of the happiest times of my life were while living in San Antonio from 1998-2004. Carlos’ columns reflected that for me. Now, his columns exist in the archives, and he exists in the recollections of his friends.
Vaya con Dios, Carlos.
Richard Zowie lives in Fredericksburg and as a writer. During his career, he has freelanced for the San Antonio Express-News. Post comments here or e-mail him at email@example.com.