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How a senior activity center got its name

Conley-Guerrero honors to longtime Austin leaders

Michael Barnes
mbarnes@statesman.com

Most people never behold the monuments to their memory.

Following a national custom, the City of Austin has almost always named buildings, parks, streets and houses after the deceased. An exception was made in 1988, when a senior activity center was opened on Nile Street not far from Rosewood Park in East Austin. It bore the names of two living leaders: Onie B. Conley and Roy G. Guerrero.

Born in Austin between 1914 and 1917 — she never revealed her age — Conley spent her life caring for children, then for the elderly. Known for precision, strictness and high expectations, she taught science and physical education in the city's public schools for 43 years. She also lobbied for such projects as the Conley-Guerrero Senior Activity Center, which she saw to its completion before her death in 2003. An untiring activist, she also served on the board of the Carver Museum & Cultural Center and attended meetings of her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority for 59 years.

Over the course of more than 30 years, Guerrero worked his way up to become assistant director of the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, making him at one point the top Hispanic city employee and an advocate for residents' appeals. Some dubbed Guerrero the "unofficial City Council member for the east side," admired and followed by many, including Travis County Commissioner Richard Moya, the first elected Hispanic in Austin. He's also the namesake for the 362-acre Guerrero Colorado River Park.

Benefiting from city's Art in Public Places ordinance, the activity center contains a tile mural, a quilted landscape and a stained-glass window.

Conley-Guerrero Senior Activity Center