SAN ANTONIO – A bell tolled Thursday morning as Paul Elizondo's flag-covered casket led mourners into San Fernando Cathedral, where the crowd filled the pews for his funeral Mass.
Elizondo leaves behind decades of public service as a Marine, educator, state representative and, most recently, as longtime Precinct 2 county commissioner.
"You know, it's hard to not to go somewhere in this county and see his footprint," State Sen. Jose Menendez said after the service.
Elizondo was first elected as commissioner in 1982. He died Dec. 27, just days shy of starting his 10th term.
Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, Elizondo's friend and colleague on the court, said he would not be forgotten.
"We will make sure his memory stays alive," Wolff said following the service. "I will make sure we will finish projects we started: San Pedro Creek, Alameda Theater, the building of the Women's Children's Hospital. Those will be my life-driving efforts for the next four years, and I really want to see them finished to honor the legacy of Paul Elizondo."
Wolff is also charged with appointing someone to fill Elizondo's seat until the next general election in November 2020. The judge said he would be "making that decision sooner than later."
After more than three decades of service in Bexar County government, Paul Elizondo had the respect of many.
Linda Guajardo, Wolff's former administrative scheduler, remembered Elizondo as a man of "true worth and character."
"He will be missed," Guajardo said. "He always had a moment to speak to the everyday county employee, and that is something that most politicians -- you don't find these days."
Some of those "everyday county employees" gathered outside the Paul Elizondo Tower Thursday as the funeral procession made its way to San Fernando Cemetery II for a private entombment ceremony.
Employees watched as the hearse stopped to honor Elizondo with a final salute by members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart in front of the tower named in his honor.