Posted: 12/21/22

Frank Staggs, Namesake of TAMIU’s Staggs Academy of International and STEM Studies, Dies


Mr. and Mrs. Frank and Julieta Staggs
Frank and Julieta Staggs  

A stalwart champion of the power of education to free minds and hearts, Frank Staggs, a namesake and supporter of the Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) Julieta and Frank Staggs Academy of International and STEM Studies, has died at age 95 on Tuesday, December 20, 2022.

Staggs was last on campus at TAMIU in October to attend the University’s Fall Convocation and receive the University’s Innovador Award recognizing his legacy of and support for higher education.

TAMIU president Dr. Pablo Arenaz said he cherished Staggs’ friendship, partnership, and steadfast encouragement of all students, but especially “his kids” at the Staggs Academy.

“His history as an educator was truly inspiring.  In his day, he would be your teacher, your coach, your principal, and sometimes even your bus driver.  His energies were always channeled into encouraging students to find their passion and to succeed. His support for and enthusiasm for elevating the importance of teachers and affirming students will always inspire us. He liked to say he had just been lucky in life, but we believe that the Staggs Academy, TAMIU, Laredo, and South Texas were all lucky to have him in our shared lives.  I especially valued his insight into local culture and history, and his great affection for Laredo and TAMIU.  He will, however, most certainly live on in the lives of Staggs Academy students and graduates for generations to come,” Dr. Arenaz said.

TAMIU vice president of Institutional Advancement, Rosanne Palacios concurred.  She visited with Staggs regularly as he affirmed his partnership and vision for the Academy.

 “I found his love for this community and all students really inspiring.  He loved being on campus here and seeing them.  He’d greet them energetically and always told them they were the smartest, the most beautiful, and the most handsome kids in Laredo.  He had a way of lifting everyone’s hearts and connected so easily with everyone from all walks of life. He was truly a kind gentleman, and I will miss him,” she said.

Born in July 1927 in Laredo to Frank W. and Gertrude Frizzel Staggs, young Frank Maurice Staggs was never known for sitting still. His career spanned teaching, insurance, coaching, ranching, refereeing, and yes, even bus driving.

His family lived in a small oil town south of Mirando City called Petroleum which faded away in 1929. The family returned to Mirando where Frank received most of his “schoolin’.” During the 1930’s Depression, the family moved several times around Louisiana, New Mexico, and Texas; often to new schools two to three times a year.

Staggs often noted that during fifth grade, he attended four different schools. The moves were the result of the generosity of Mr. O.W. Killam, who employed dad Frank W., and kept all Killam crews working despite the Depression.

Despite the moves, Staggs graduated from Mirando High School. He studied at Texas A&M University for a short time before enlisting in the United States Armed Services. His assignment was to the U.S. Army Hospital Mercy, which sailed across the Pacific Theatre of operations. After finishing his extended tour of duty in 1947, he continued his education at Texas A&I University-Kingsville, graduating with a Bachelor of Science.

During his senior year, he became licensed to sell life insurance, doing so part-time for many years while also teaching. While in college, he taught at San Benito for one year, then returned home to Mirando City to teach high school English and History, coach boys' football, basketball, and track, and girls' basketball and track. Driving the school bus was also one of his many duties.

His life changed in August of 1951 at a Laredo café in the Heights when on a business trip he was introduced to Julie Farias. They married one year later. Soon after, they moved to Laredo to teach English and Speech at M.B. Lamar Junior High School.

Five years later, he was appointed Assistant Principal. When Milton Elementary opened, he became its first Principal and returned to Lamar as its Principal in 1969. During that time, he began ranching with Julie's uncle, Dr. Raúl de la Garza at the family ranch near Oilton.

In 1972 he was named Director of Special programs. Eight years later, he “retired” from education and pursued a career in the insurance business. Staggs and Leonard Insurance, which focused on life and group medical insurance, arose from a partnership with Ed Leonard. The partnership dissolved 19 years later when Mr. Leonard passed away and ranching became Frank's primary business. He loved the ranch, and kept 24+ spare tires aired and ready to go…just so he wouldn’t be stranded at the ranch with a flat tire.

He was characteristically modest all of his life, and simply offered the following:

"I've always been lucky- good parents, married a wonderful girl, and had two good boys. A good life. I am lucky. But the harder I worked the luckier I got! As my grandma Betty Frizzel used to say, 'The Lord has His hand on your shoulder, boy!' I say Amen."

Amen, indeed, Frank M. Staggs.  Blessings upon you and peace to your beloved family.  We know Julie will be happy to have her dancing partner back.

His life will be celebrated Friday, December 23, 2022 from 9 a.m. - 12 noon at Hillside Funerals & Cremations, 310 W. Hillside Rd. A Memorial Service will begin at 12 noon, with Father Wojciech Przystasz officiating. 

In lieu of flowers, the family requests a donation be made to the Julieta and Frank Staggs Academy. Checks should be made out to TAMIU with Staggs in the memo, and mailed to TAMIU, 5201 University Boulevard, KL261, Laredo, Texas 78041, or click here: