Former Harlingen Mayor Connie de la Garza arrived at this real estate office early Thursday morning to find several police units right across the street.
He was surprised to find out they were there responding to a call of a body found along the roadway.
"Within the hour, I heard that it was former Mayor Rick Rodriguez - he was out jogging and apparently had a heart attack and passed away," de la Garza said. It TMs a very, very sad day for our community."
Harlingen police said a passerby spotted the body at about 6 a.m. at the intersection of Tyler and 5th Street.
There are no signs of foul play, but an autopsy has been ordered to determine what exactly caused Rodriguez TMs death.
"Mr. Rodriguez was wearing tennis shoes, shorts, a gray shirt and he may have been jogging in the area when we believe he collapsed," Sgt. Dave Osborne said.
De la Garza became mayor in 1998, when Rodriguez was also elected as city commissioner.
In 2004, Rodriguez beat out de la Garza for the mayoral seat. D
e la Garza said although they sometimes disagreed on issues, both were always looking out for the city's best interest.
"He helped us work on the airport, he helped work on a lot of projects, bring jobs to Harlingen - that was our theme for 6 years," de la Garza said.
Current Mayor Chris Boswell served as a city commissioner when Rodriguez was mayor.
He said Rodriguez was instrumental in creating a strategic plan for economic development and retail growth it the city. He also recalls a more personal moment " when they both lost their fathers around the same time.
I remember his kindness to me when I lost my father and a kind note that he sent to me during that time, Boswell said. So, we shared similar events in our lives and worked together for a long time."
Rodriguez was just 55 years old, as is Boswell.
He said although heart disease issues may have run in Rodriguez's family, he hopes his unfortunate death will serve as a wake-up call for community members to be more conscious of healthy lifestyle choices.