AARP Texas today announced that Olivia “Ollie” Besteiro has been selected as the recipient of the 2016 AARP Texas Andrus Award for Community Service. Named after AARP founder Ethel Percy Andrus, the award is given in recognition of those who embody the association’s goal of bringing lifetimes of experience and leadership to serve all generations.
Besteiro, an Austin resident and South Texas native, is a former long-time public school teacher and state education association leader who has worked tirelessly as a volunteer with AARP, including having served as the association’s Texas president from 2009 through 2015.
As state president, Besteiro fought to make health care more available and affordable, promoted financial security initiatives and efforts to tame the corrosive activities and proliferation of payday lenders. She also worked extensively to make communities throughout Texas more livable for people of all ages and abilities, particularly on issues pertaining to housing, transportation and support services for seniors.
Widely respected, hugely admired and gifted with a remarkably warm personality, Besteiro is a self-described political junkie who has rubbed elbows with presidents, governors and other prominent public officials. Born in Edinburg, she is a direct descendant of four pioneer Texas families. She started her career in 1957 as an elementary school teacher and taught for 29 years in Brownsville. She served on the state board of the Texas State Teachers Association, the NEA affiliate in Texas. And in 1989, she became the first Hispanic female to be elected president of a state education association. She was married for 50 years to the late Dr. Albert Besteiro, former president of Texas Southmost College in Brownsville.
“No one in Texas commands more admiration and respect than Ollie Besteiro,” said AARP Texas Director Bob Jackson. “Her lifelong commitment to working for the betterment of all people embodies the spirit of service that is at the core of the AARP mission. On behalf of AARP, I am proud to announce that my friend and mentor, Ollie Besteiro, is this year’s Andrus Award recipient.”