San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Paul Teixeira, a longtime Nipomo resident known for his community and civic involvement, died late Wednesday of a possible heart attack or related heart problem. He was 57.
He was elected to represent parts of the South County in 2010 and had become more comfortable and relaxed this year in his role as board chairman, colleagues recalled Thursday. The county lowered its flags to half-staff in his honor.
“He was a big lovable galoot,” District 3 Supervisor Adam Hill said. “He was quick with a corny joke and a slap on the back.”
Many longtime friends, who described Teixeira as loyal, genuine and deeply committed to his community, were stunned to hear about his death.
“It’s hard to imagine Nipomo without him,” said Rudy Stowell, president of the Nipomo Chamber of Commerce. “There was no artifice with Paul. What you saw was what you got, and what you got was a man deeply committed to improving his community.”
Some friends and colleagues said they last saw or spoke to Teixeira on Wednesday evening, after he attended a forum on health care reform. He was planning to speak at a Nipomo chamber event Thursday; instead, attendees spent the time telling stories “of his good works and great sense of humor,” Stowell said.
Teixeira died at 11:33 p.m. Wednesday at Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria. He was then taken to the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office coroner’s facility, where an autopsy was expected to be completed Thursday.
Teixeira lived more than 45 years in San Luis Obispo County, where he and his wife, Deanna, have raised five children.
Teixeira graduated from Arroyo Grande High School and attended Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria and Cal Poly, where he studied agricultural management. He later worked as operations manager for an industrial parts company in Santa Maria.
During a candidate forum when running for supervisor in 2010, Teixeira described himself as an average guy — your next-door neighbor, who cared deeply about his community.
His list of involvements is voluminous and included 4-H, FFA, Jack’s Helping Hand, Rotary, the Dana Adobe in Nipomo and other groups. He was appointed to the county Parks Commission by former Supervisor Katcho Achadjian in 2003, and he served from 2006-10 on the Lucia Mar Unified School District Board of Education.
“Long before he was elected to public office, Paul poured out his heart and his passion into the schools, service clubs and nonprofits of this community,” Achadjian said in a statement. “… Paul was always focused on ways to enrich the lives of others.”
Current Lucia Mar district trustee Dee Santos became close with Teixeira when they served together on the school board, referring to him as her kid brother whom she nicknamed “Pablito.”
As a school board member, Teixeira advocated the district’s career technical education programs as important alternatives for students who didn’t plan to obtain a traditional college degree.
He was a loving man who put his family first, Santos said. She recalled a trip to a school board-related conference in San Francisco, where she and Teixeira canvassed shops searching for a unicorn figurine for his wife’s collection.
“He always brought back something for his wife,” Santos said. “A lot of guys don’t even bother, but he was family first. And respect! His kids always said, ‘Yes, ma’am.’ ”
Teixeira announced he would run for county supervisor in 2009 after then-Supervisor Achadjian decided to run for state Assembly.
In an interview after the primary election narrowed the race to two candidates, Teixeira commented, “I’m a people person; I can get along with anybody.”
He defeated two opponents to take the 4th District seat. Even before he took office the following January, Teixeira was already working on behalf of constituents in Oceano, some of whom were affected by widespread flooding in December 2010, Hill said.
Teixeira worked closely with public works staff to help address flooding issues in the community, which are ongoing. Hill said he and Teixeira were also working to find a way to incorporate access for equestrians into Grover Beach’s plans to build a lodge and conference center at Highway 1 and West Grand Avenue.
“He was just so proud to be where he was and to serve his community,” Hill said.