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The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Former TXST professor turns 100


Roberto Galván receives his 100th birthday cake, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, at his house. 

On Franklin Drive in San Marcos, Texas, stands a house full of memories from Roberto Galván’s 100-year journey of life. An extensive vinyl collection, shelves full of books and portraits of loved ones take up space on the walls, displaying the generations of love and familial pride that Roberto has lived through.
On Saturday, Roberto celebrated his 100th birthday and Mayor Jane Hughson declared Feb. 25 as Dr. Roberto A. Galván Day. A parade made up of community members, the San Marcos Police and Fire Departments, The Lion’s Club, members of St. John’s Catholic Church and Roberto’s neighbors filled the streets in cars and on foot to celebrate his milestone birthday.
Roberto, a son, husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, veteran, retired professor and published author, is a lifelong learner and has used education to change the trajectory of his life. He began teaching at Southwest Texas State College in 1964 and was the first Latino faculty member with a doctoral degree.
“He would just say, ‘education is the key if you want to live a good life’. He was able to lead the path, not just for him, but for his kids, to have a better life and his grandchildren too. But I really don’t think he did it for solely that reason. He just loved learning and writing. He loves just doing his best,” Nancy Luna, Roberto’s daughter, said.
Roberto received his associate’s degree from San Antonio Junior College in 1943, a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Trinity University in 1948, a master’s degree in Spanish from the University of Texas at Austin in 1949 and a Ph.D. in romance philology from Tulane University in 1954. Roberto is also a World War ll veteran.
The Texas State ROTC program presented the colors and showed their respect to Roberto at his birthday parade on Saturday.
Roberto witnessed Texas State’s university name changes during his time working in Flowers Hall, a building that many of his children and grandchildren have memories attached to. 
In letters written and gifted to Roberto at his 95th birthday celebration, his children and grandchildren reflected on those special memories. 
“When I was a little girl, I remember you taking me to the university — just you and me,” Dee Jammal, Galván’s daughter, said in her letter. “I felt special being at the school and still remember the smell of the building, the echoing through the hallways, the classrooms, offices, and desks. I remember you would give me just one piece of paper to draw on while you worked. I had to make the most of the paper, be engaged at what I was doing, and act deeply respectful of the environment no matter how long we were there. These early experiences developed my understanding of what it truly means to change one little person at a time because you always showed me how important learning was the basis of being successful in anything I wanted to do.”
According to Roberto’s eldest son, René Galván, his father had a humble upbringing. Both of Roberto’s parents only reached third grade and he lived during the Great Depression.
“There were times when he was a little boy he didn’t have a pair of shoes to wear. He had to work. He used to sell papers downtown in San Antonio, and at one point he was chased by a rabid dog downtown. He was always doing things that we wouldn’t think of today that a boy that age would do to help the family,” René said.
Roberto’s childhood experiences shaped the actions and words he poured into his own family. Greg Galván, Roberto’s youngest child recalls a time when he realized that his father taught him the importance of perspective.
“Years ago we drove by an impoverished neighborhood and saw young children playing and running through the streets. None of the children wore shoes,” Greg said in his letter. “You began to talk about your childhood and told me something that echoed in my head for years to come, you said, ‘we had nothing and yet we had everything.'”
Luna recalls spending time in her father’s office and looking at his desk to see school photos as if it was his own personal yearbook of his children. 
Roberto’s love for education and music seeped into the lives of those around him. All seven of his children have bachelor’s degrees, four have master’s degrees and one has a medical physician’s assistant license. Five of his children and two of his grandchildren have graduated from Texas State.
Roberto’s children remember the clanking sound from his typewriter as he worked in his Flowers Hall office, and his grandchildren hold fond memories of exploring the Texas States campus. 
“When I was younger and you and grandma would take me to the ponds around the theatre building on campus,” Andrew, Roberto’s grandchild, said in his letter to his grandfather. “You would always make sure we had a full loaf of bread when we went out there and we would tear pieces off and throw them in the ponds so that ducks and fish would come towards us.”
Roberto has been awarded the Melvin Jones Fellowship by The Lions International Club, the highest award bestowed by the organization. The San Marcos Lions Club, which he’s been a member of since 1981, also funds annual scholarships under his name. Currently, Roberto enjoys his retirement at home with his wife.

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  • Roberto Galván uses record player in 1962 in Uvalde, Texas. before being a professor at Texas State, Galván taught at Southwest Texas Junior College. 

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