When Rawley McCoy returned home after a day spent designing the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Victoria or attending a Rotary Club meeting, he’d ask his son Timothy to help pull off his boots or grab him a beer from the fridge.

By all accounts, McCoy led a full life, founding an architecture firm in his hometown that designed dozens of notable buildings, chairing a number of civic organizations, devoting himself to St. Francis Episcopal Church and completing a decade’s worth of work in his two years as Victoria’s mayor, as one city council member put it. Along with his many obligations, McCoy found time for life’s simple pleasures, whether it was golfing; spending time with his wife, Kay, and their three children; building custom precision rifles or filling a closet with the Stetson hats he memorably wore.

“He was always real busy, but he was always there, too,” said Timothy McCoy, who now serves as a county court-at-law judge in Nueces County.

McCoy died unexpectedly at home March 5, of a heart attack. He was 70.

Born in Victoria to Fred and Selma McCoy, he discovered his love for architecture after volunteering to work a summer drafting job at Warren Young Architects while enrolled at Victoria High School. After studying at Victoria College and Texas A&M, he returned to his hometown to work with Young, who became his partner and longtime mentor.

In 1995, McCoy founded his own firm, Rawley McCoy and Associates, and went on to design well over 130 buildings in Victoria and the surrounding area, including schools, hospitals, banks, businesses and places of worship. After the Victoria Islamic Center was burned to the ground in 2017 in an act of arson, McCoy volunteered to help rebuild the mosque. The center’s president, Dr. Shahid Hashmi, described McCoy as a “gentleman” and longtime friend.

Billy Berger, now a principal at the firm and a longtime partner of McCoy’s, said McCoy worked diligently to mentor the firm’s architects and pass onto them his work ethic, attention to detail and emphasis on building strong relationships with clients.

“He was a commanding owner, and he knew what he wanted,” Berger said. “He was trying to instill in us that there was a certain way to do things, and how you treat people was important, and how you spoke to people was important.”

McCoy took pride in his firm’s near-exclusive emphasis on local projects, Berger said, and sought to out compete with other firms attempting to move into the area by building a reputation for versatility and for bringing projects to completion under budget.

Timothy McCoy said he encouraged his father to run for mayor after hearing him express frustration with local issues like the condition of city streets for many years.

“I can’t imagine anybody more qualified because as far as infrastructure goes, that was his job,” his son said.

His father was motivated not by a sense of ambition, he said, but by a passion for public service.

“In the end, he did what he thought was right,” the younger McCoy said. “He told me, ‘Tim, you don’t have to make everybody happy. You have to do what’s right and move on.’”

After he was elected mayor in 2019, winning 51% of the vote in a four-candidate race, McCoy held his victory party at Mumphord’s Place Restaurant, a family-owned barbecue restaurant in the Southside, a neighborhood McCoy said had long been neglected. That gesture touched Ricky Mumphord, the restaurant’s co-owner.

“You can see the honesty and sincerity (come) right off this guy,” Mumphord said. “This is the type of person you wish you knew all your life.”

During his campaign, McCoy pledged to revitalize the local economy and work with residents of all of the city’s neighborhoods, calling for every community member to have “a seat at the table” during his State of the City address in 2020.

County Judge Ben Zeller said he expects many of the city and county’s accomplishments in the years ahead to be attributable to McCoy’s efforts.

“He wanted to see big things happen in our region,” Zeller said. “He definitely fanned the flame of enthusiasm and of optimism about what we would be able to achieve.”

Along with his father’s many civic accomplishments, Timothy McCoy said he will keep fond memories of time spent together as a family, whether it was playing tennis or going to church and temple with family friends.

Timothy McCoy said he was moved by his conversations with the many people who attended McCoy’s public visitation on Wednesday.

“It was amazing talking to so many people yesterday, how many people he knew and touched that I didn’t know about,” he said. “He always had friends everywhere. Religion, race, just across the board. That’s just the way he was.”

McCoy is survived by his wife, Kay; his children, Kristin Holub, Timothy McCoy and Kathryn McCoy; his brothers, Fred McCoy and Gary McCoy; and his seven grandchildren.

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Mark Rosenberg reports on local, regional and breaking news for the Victoria Advocate as a Report for America corps member. He can be reached at mrosenberg@vicad.com or 361-574-1264 or on Twitter at @markrosenberg32. To support local journalism at the Advocate through Report for America, go to VictoriaAdvocate.com/report.

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Mark Rosenberg covers local, regional and breaking news for the Advocate as a Report for America corps member. Questions or tips? Contact: mrosenberg@vicad.com or call 361-574-1264.

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