A champion of the conservation community who instilled a love of nature in young anglers and delighted in playing music across South Texas died Wednesday, November 12, 2014.

Hector Mendieta, of Victoria, died of a heart attack. He was 60.

Joel Nava, who started performing with Mendieta in 1986, called him a fixture of the community.

"He was the closest thing I had to a brother," Nava said. "We went through tough times and good times together. He was always there for me when I needed him, just like I tried to be there for him when he needed me."

Mendieta was known to tell stories about his friends, and he sometimes drank. He could be ornery and had a long repertoire of one-liners, but he loved to sing and play music. He reveled in being on stage with his bass guitar.
He had a way of seeing the positive side of any situation. He was as quick with his wit as he was with making friends.

Jerry James, who performed with Mendieta at Greek's 205, The Pumphouse and other venues, said Mendieta could do it all.

"It was like magic," James said. "You play with people over the years, but just a few times you play with somebody that you just feel like you've played with all your life."

Mendieta was the pulse of his bands, whether they were performing Tejano, country or an Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix classic. He performed as a duo with James as well as with full bands, Night Moves, Nightrider, Rumors, Joel Nava and the Border and others.

"We'd get tired of playing, but he'd just get you going," James said. "He'd always pick you up."

James and Mendieta never rehearsed for a gig.

"You'd throw a song at him, he might give you a look, but he'd fall right in there," James said.

The music was only a small side to his multi-dimensional life.

"He had a huge heart," James said. "Whatever he did, he didn't do it halfway. He put his whole heart in it."

In 2011, Mendieta led a partnership with the Coastal Conservation Association, Urban Engineering, Ecovantage, Turner Roofing and other companies to open a 400-foot outlook fishing pier in Flour Bluff.

His goal was to give children of all ages, including children with handicaps, the opportunity to hook up and land a fish. In return, he hoped they would gain a greater appreciation for the area's natural resources.

The pier is at the CCA-Corpus Christi Hatchery in Flour Buff.

Longtime friend, Dennis Lala, who served with Mendieta as vice president of the CCA Mid Coast Chapter, said the two have "done it all."

"Hector was a great person to be around," Lala said. "He was just a good guy. He could always find something positive out of a negative, that's what used to get me."

Mendieta grew up in Corpus Christi and was married to Nancy Mendieta for 35 years.

When he wasn't on stage or fishing, he was an independent agent in his family's insurance business, H&N Enterprises.