The chief executive of IBC Bank-Zapata has joined a group of illustrious Texans that includes former U.S. lawmakers and an ex-president.
Renato Ramirez, the chairman and CEO of the $509 million-asset bank, was named "Mr. South Texas" for 2014 by the Washington's Birthday Celebration Association last week. The nonprofit organizes the 117-year-old celebration of the first president's birthday each year in Laredo, also the home of IBC Bank-Zapata.
Ramirez will be the 63rd Mr. South Texas, a title previously awarded to well-known Texans such as former President George W. Bush, former Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Phil Gramm and the late Gov. Ann Richards.
"It's a very prestigious award, and I'm really shocked I got it, because I'm a poor little boy from Laredo, Texas," says Ramirez, 73.
As Mr. South Texas, the founding president of IBC Bank-Zapata will take part in a series of events around the annual Washington's Birthday Celebration a nearly month-long fest in Laredo that Ramirez describes as a "Mardi Gras-like celebration." It draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city every year.
On Feb. 22 he'll head a parade, flanked by the drill team from his alma mater, Texas A&M, and speak at the annual Mr. South Texas banquet, a gathering of local business leaders and other power brokers.
Ramirez is being recognized for his community service. He is active in philanthropic and humanitarian causes on both sides of the border. A board member of Texas Civil Rights Project, he has also founded an orphanage in Mexico, opened a charter school in Laredo and endowed scholarships at Texas A&M.
He played a crucial role in getting a monument to the Tejanos, or the Texans of Hispanic descent, built on the lawn of the Texas Capitol in Austin.
He has also built a golf course in Zapata, one that "will never make money," Ramirez says, "but now we have a really nice golf course that young kids and the elderly can use."
Ramirez will also be honored with membership in Los Caballeros de la Republica del Rio Grande, a group of men and women who have provided extraordinary support to the Washington's Birthday Celebration.
IBC Bank-Zapata is owned by International Bancshares (IBOC), an $11.5 billion-asset holding company also based in Laredo. International Bancshares is a title sponsor of the Washington's Birthday Celebration, according to the event's website.