It’s Saturday night football madness at TJC.
The Apache Belles strut in the stadium to the beat of the Apache Punch. The band marches behind the Belles’ glide stepping with precision and accuracy while playing a familiar tune. The crowd yells and cheers while the cheerleaders run and flip to greet and hype up the crowd. There is only one thing missing, one thing to complete the cheer squad, one thing to sow up a win for TJC.
With feathers going down his back and paint on his face, Andy Navarro awaits the moment of the big reveal. As he runs across the field doing his familiar Apache dance. Andy realizes he has found his home, he has found TJC.
Andres ‘Andy’ Navarro was born on Jan. 8, 1962 in Eagle Pass, Texas to Jesus and Francisca Navarro. Andy was one of 11 children.
“We were the complete opposite of the Brady Bunch. I grew up on a working ranch. We raised cattle, sheep and goats,” said Navarro. “My daily chores ranged anywhere from riding horses, rounding up cattle or mending fences.
The most difficult season on the Navarro ranch was winter.
“We didn’t have any central heat, therefore, we had only blankets and wood stoves to keep us warm,” said Navarro.
Navarro grew up in a religious home and is a member of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
“My mom and dad were prayer-oriented people, we were always grateful for what we had. We would wake up with prayer and pray before we went to sleep. We also attended church every Sunday,” said Navarro.
Navarro attended Leakey Public Schools and was on the football, basketball, baseball and track teams.
“My family always believed in working hard and playing hard,” said Navarro. “I also was the valedictorian of my high school graduating class of only 21 people.”
Navarro came to TJC by way of his oldest brother Gilbert.
“My oldest brother lived in Tyler at the time. TJC has a great reputation and being able to go to school and work was a plus for me,” said Navarro. “TJC was the perfect pick. It was in the perfect town and was the perfect college. It was perfect for me.”
While at TJC, Navarro majored in general studies and was the Apache mascot. Navarro’s duties as the mascot were to help the cheerleaders and in aid cheering on the team to victory.
“He came to me and said that he would like to be the mascot, everyone liked him.” said Emma Lou Prater, cheerleading sponsor at the time. “He would do his war dance and Apache dance every time the team would make a touchdown. Andy has made TJC and Tyler very proud.”
Navarro viewed being the mascot as a great experience in which he met many friends.
“I loved every aspect of the campus, but what I liked the most was meeting new people. The great ones like Floyd Wagstaff, Linda Cross, and Ray Noland,” said Navarro. “I was the mascot for one year, and the next year I played intramural basketball and football.”
Navarro graduated Magna Cum Laude from TJC in 1982. He continued his studies at Centenary College where he majored in business.
“I was interested in business and Centenary College was a Methodist school,” said Navarro.
At Centenary College, Navarro meet his other half and life-long partner Linda Ann Keiser.
“I was actually shooting around in the gym after an intramural game when she walked in just before the women’s basketball team practice. We started shooting around and conversing and that how it happened,” said Navarro.
Navarro graduated Cum Laude from Centenary College leaving behind the love of his life.
“I graduated in 1984 and continued to law school at Southern Methodist University, Linda didn’t graduate until 1985,” said Navarro.
Upon graduation from SMU, Navarro landed a job at Ramey, Flock, Crawford, Harper and Collins Law Firm where he served as an associate.
“At the law firm we dealt with business/commercial law,” said Navarro. “Flock was a long-time TJC trustee that recently past away.”
After working at the firm for 10 years, Navarro tried a change in atmosphere.
“I currently serve as the General Counsel for Trinity Mother Frances Health Systems,” said Navarro. “It’s different from working at a firm because you only have one client and you are in the courtroom less. They are both very challenging though. I have been working at Trinity Mother Frances for 11 years.”
Navarro has three children Sara Mari (16), Cori Jo (14), and Matthew Milam (7). Navarro also holds numerous awards and recognitions but only one stands out and makes him proud. Navarro was the recipient of the 1998 “Valuable Young Alumni” award by the alumni association.
“I love TJC and was honored to receive an award from the school,” said Navarro.
Navarro believes in giving back to the Tyler community and serves on various boards and non-profit organizations. He has taught his children many things but focuses mainly on core values.
“Its better to be poor and have a good reputation than to be wealthy and not have a quality character,” said Navarro.