James Walton Fonteno

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James Walton Fonteno
James Fonteno.jpg James_Fonteno.jpg
Born(1926-07-02)July 2, 1926
Port Arthur, Texas
💀DiedJune 30, 2008(2008-06-30) (aged 81)
Houston, Texas, Texas, USAJune 30, 2008(2008-06-30) (aged 81)
🏳️ Nationality
💼 Occupation
County Commissioner, Harris County, TX
👩 Spouse(s)Joann Fonteno
🌐 Websiteilasting.com/jimfonteno.php

James W. Fonteno (July 2, 1926 – June 30, 2008) was a former County Commissioner in Harris County, Texas and Municipal Court Judge in Baytown, Texas.


Fonteno, born July 2, 1926, in Port Arthur, Texas, was one of 7 children of Walton and Lula Mae Fontenot. Raised on the bayous in Port Arthur, he became the most outspoken of his siblings, becoming a judge and county commissioner. Fonteno joined the Merchant Marine and later the Army and received an honorable discharge.

Political life[edit]

Fonteno was appointed as Municipal Court Judge in Baytown, Texas, in the latter part of the 1950s before moving to Houston in the early 1960s.[1]

In 1968 Fonteno was appointed a Commissioner for the Houston Ship Channel, one of the largest ports in the U.S.

In 1973, a group of businessmen approached Fonteno and asked him to run for County Commissioner - during an era of severe Harris County government corruption and financial mismanagement. Fonteno became a County Commissioner in 1974 with the intent of serving for two or possibly three terms - he stayed for 7 terms, serving a total of 28 years. He was credited for cleaning up Harris County politics during the mid-1970s and 1980s and became known as "The Dean"[2] and "The Peacemaker".[3][4]
Fonteno left office in 2002 after 28 years in office, due to Parkinson's disease.

Fonteno is credited with starting a Senior Citizen program that was later copied in counties throughout the USA[2][5][6]

Harris County threw a retirement party for Fonteno in 2002 - 4,000 people showed up to the party held on the floor of the Astrodome[7][8]


In 2002, members of the United States Congress named the Main U.S. Post Office in Pasadena, Texas, “The Jim Fonteno Post Office Building.” (HouseResolution 4717, 107th Congress). [9] [10] [11]

Gene Green, a member of the House of Representatives from Texas, delivered an "extension of remarks" honoring Fonteno's career on March 28, 2001 which appeared in the Congressional Record. [12] [13] [14]

Also in 2002, Harris County Commissioners named the new County Courthouse, the "Jim Fonteno Courthouse".[15]

In 2005, Harris County Commissioners named a 100+ acre park the Jim & Joann Fonteno Family Park [16]


  1. "The Baytown Sun". The Baytown Sun. 2008-07-05. Retrieved 2009-08-03.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Ex-Harris Co. Commissioner Fonteno dies | TOP STORIES | KHOU.com | News for Houston, Texas". KHOU.com. 2008-07-01. Retrieved 2009-08-03.[dead link]
  3. "News, search and shopping from the Houston Chronicle". Chron.com. 2002-12-26. Retrieved 2009-08-03.
  4. "Former Harris County Commissioner Jim Fonteno has passed away - 7/01/08 - Houston News - abc13.com". Abclocal.go.com. 2008-07-01. Retrieved 2009-08-03.
  5. http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/R?r107:FLD001:H53621
  6. http://ftp.resource.org/gpo.gov/record/2002/2002_H03621.pdf[permanent dead link]
  7. "Houston salutes retiring Precinct 2 commissioner > Import Archives > Houston Community Newspapers Online - News Around Town". Hcnonline.com. 2002-11-20. Retrieved 2009-08-03.
  8. "Seniors gather to honor, say goodbye to retiring Commissioner Jim Fonteno > Import Archives > Houston Community Newspapers Online - News Around Town". Hcnonline.com. 2002-11-24. Retrieved 2009-08-03.
  9. Bentsen, Ken (2002-10-30). "H.R.4717 - 107th Congress (2001-2002): To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1199 Pasadena Boulevard in Pasadena, Texas, as the "Jim Fonteno Post Office Building"". www.congress.gov. Retrieved 2019-05-19.
  10. "Vote 235, H R 4717". The U.S. Congress Votes Database. June 18, 2002.
  11. "Public Law 107-268, 107th Congress". www.congress.gov. Retrieved 2019-05-20.
  12. Green, Gene (March 28, 2001). "Celebrating the Career of Harris County Commissioner Jim Fonteno (Extensions of Remarks - March 28, 2001)". Congressional Record. p. E472-E473. Retrieved 2019-05-19.
  13. "page E472, PDF version" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-02-28.
  14. "page E472, PDF version" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-02-17.
  15. "Courthouse annex renamed after Fonteno > Import Archives > Houston Community Newspapers Online - News Around Town". Hcnonline.com. 2002-02-12. Retrieved 2009-08-03.
  16. "County dedicates Fonteno Park > Import Archives > Houston Community Newspapers Online - News Around Town". Hcnonline.com. Retrieved 2009-08-03.

External links[edit]

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