An advocate for children in the courtroom and the classroom, Judge Andy Mireles worked tirelessly to keep students on the right track.
Paul Andrew Mireles was born April 3, 1950 in Lockhart, Texas and was one of six children of working class parents. An avid car racing fan, he learned early in his life that education was the ticket to success.
Mireles graduated from St. John's Seminary and briefly considered becoming a priest. But while earning a bachelor's degree in psychology at St. Mary's University, a professor suggested that he consider becoming a lawyer.
Mireles' decision to attend law school changed his life - and the lives of countless others.
While in law school at St. Mary's University, Mireles met his wife Margaret, also a St. Mary's graduate, and the couple later would have two sons, Jonathan and Matthew.
In 1975, after graduating No. 2 in his law school class, Mireles joined the firm of Hardberger, Branton & Herrera. Then, in 1982, Mireles formed his own law firm, Watkins, Mireles, Brock & Barrientos.
Mireles' commitment to serving San Antonio's youth was cemented when he was elected to the San Antonio ISD Board of Trustees in 1984. He served until 1988, and also served as a Board member for the Texas Association of School Boards.
In addition to a passion for helping children, Mireles also discovered a penchant for politics. He left private practice in 1989 when he was elected judge of the 73rd District Court. He immediately joined the Bexar County Juvenile Board and soon saw a need for a separate juvenile justice system that could better serve young offenders.
Mireles pushed for the creation of a docket that focused exclusively on juvenile crime, and from then on he was known as the father of Bexar County's juvenile justice system. Mireles didn't use his authority solely to punish young people, but rather he held them accountable for their crimes and gave them a chance to turn their lives around.
His reputation as a tough love judge who had high expectations for everyone in his courtroom - including himself - now is legendary at the Bexar County Courthouse.
And his ethics were beyond reproach, so much so that he wouldn't attend holiday parties of local law firms for fear of giving the impression he was playing favorites.
Mireles served as Chairman of the Bexar County Juvenile Board from 1998 until his death in 2009 at the age of 59. His death was a blow to the San Antonio community, which lost a champion of juvenile justice.
The lessons he instilled in his own sons and in the youth who visited his courtroom now will be taught to the thousands of students who will attend his namesake school: Be responsible, be honest, give back to your community, and leave the world a better place.
Sources of information: San Antonio Express-News, Bexar County Juvenile Probation Department, and the St. Mary's University Alumni Association.