Sunday, September 5, 2010

Honoring Thomas Araguz III, his labor, and his wife Nikki Araguz

editorial commentary

The assistant managing editor at the Fort Bend Herald newspaper, in Rosenberg, TX, John Merculief, has published an editorial that purports to be concerned about honoring the memory of Thomas Araguz III, who he describes as the person at the center of the lawsuit against Nikki Araguz. However, John Merculief appears to be just another foot soldier in the Texas yellow journalism brigade, a latrine brigade that doesn't seem to know when to stop shoveling shinola at the sensibilities of its primarily Texan readers. Merculief's editorial, which is replete with the same heaping dish of diatribe the Texas media has employed in myriad ways since a couple weeks after Thomas Araguz's death, dishonors Thomas and disrespects the memory of the work he did. Merculief's editorial also represents yet another continuation of the media's verbal assault against Nikki Araguz, the woman Thomas Araguz loved, chose to love, chose to live with, and married.

John Merculief
John Merculief's article fails to recognize that the people who have dishonored and disrespected Thomas Araguz III most are Heather Delgado, the ex-wife he divorced, and his own mother, Simona Longoria. Their greedy fool's errand lawsuit won't actually net Thomas's sons Trevor and Tyler any more money than if those two women had never filed their lawsuit, because any gain they may reap from it for the boys, will surely be taken right back by the attorneys who represent them, to pay attorney's fees and expenses. What Heather Delgado and Simonia Longoria's lawsuit does however, is wage an all out assault on Thomas Araguz's all important desire and choice to love Nikki Araguz, to live with Nikki Araguz, to marry Nikki Araguz, to share a house and home with Nikki Araguz, to share child rearing duties with Nikki Araguz, to share his hobbies and interests with Nikki Araguz and the boys they cared for throughout the three short years of their lives together, before his life and their life together was prematurely ripped away from them by Thomas's unexpected death. Heather Delgado and Simona Longoria's lawsuit also disrespects Thomas Araguz and his sons Trevor and Tyler, by subjecting Trevor and Tyler, to forever live with the memory of how they, and the Texas media, have disrespected his love for Nikki Araguz, and by extension the boys as well. If Heather Delgado and Simonia Longoria truly had respect for and honored Thomas Araguz, and for his two sons, it seems like the public should wonder why they didn't leave well enough alone, so that the memory of Thomas Araguz III, life long public servant and fallen firefighter, would live on in perpetuity, unfettered by what has actually occurred since his death.

Without Heather Delgado and Simonia Longoria's lawsuit, Thomas Araguz's two boys would have the same $300,000 that was coming to them anyway, without the need for a court of law to issue an order allowing distribution of it to them, and without having to take attorney's fees out of it beforehand. By Texas statute, Thomas's two boys will also be able to attend the Texas public university of their choice tuition free, something never at issue in the lawsuit Heather Delgado and Simonia Longoria have instigated. It is entirely specious, if not downright fallacious, for John Merculief to state in his editorial that:
(Heather Delgado and Simonia Longoria have) filed suit to have his marriage voided and ensure his children get his death benefits.
when in fact, his children were ensured of receiving his death benefits anyway, which their lawsuit only delayed and diluted with attorney's fees, while it also creates an unwarranted cloud of vitriol over the life of the woman Thomas Araguz loved and married, Nikki Araguz. 

The editorial John Merculief has published also begins with mention of Chad Ellis, one of three attorneys whose legal representation of Simonia Longoria, is little more than a greedy $300,000 money grab for themselves, unless it is also bigoted vindictiveness toward Nikki Araguz with whom Heather Delgado and Simonia Longoria had previously been familial. Surely, the three less than honorable attorneys, Edward Burwell, Frank E. Mann III, and Chad Ellis, knew full well when they convinced Heather Delgado and Simonia Longoria to file their probate lawsuit against Nikki Araguz, that nothing would be gained financially by those two women, or the boys who cannot represent themselves as the actual parties to the lawsuit because they are minors, except the lining of three attorneys' pockets with half the proceeds. No matter what the outcome, all that Chad Ellis, Edward Burwell, and Frank Mann, will have accomplished is the pointless judicial institutionalization of their dishonor and lack of respect for Thomas Araguz, for Nikki Araguz the woman he lived, and for their two boys Trevor and Tyler. It seems noteworthy that both Edward Burwell and Frank Mann have been sanctioned previously by the Texas State Bar Association for breach of ethics rules. Frank Mann's license to practice law has even been suspended on two occasions, for years at a time, and he is currently under investigation again for his unethical and potentially illegal activities.

Meanwhile, John Merculief's editorial references Chad Ellis's use of the nickname "Tommy" which also disrespects Thomas Araguz, because that was a nickname he disliked and told people to never use. The people who knew, loved, honored, and respected, Thomas Araguz, know that he preferred to be called Thomas. Although Merculief's editorial goes on to quote Chad Ellis who claims that:
"We chose to do this, after visiting with the family, because Tommy's not here to lend a voice to the story," (Chad Ellis) said. "The family has come forward to tell the things they know should be said."
The facts are that Thomas Araguz spoke loudly through his actions during his life, and before his death, about his intentions and about what he honored. Thomas Araguz loved, married, and honored Nikki Araguz, even if by some chance the Texas state judiciary ends up refusing to recognize and honor his wish and intentions at some future juncture. Thomas Araguz also divorced Heather Delgado, communicating to the world his rejection and repudiation of her. The undisputed fact is that Thomas Araguz also named Nikki Araguz the beneficiary of his life insurance / pension plan policy proceeds. Yet Merculief's editorial fails to mention that judge Randy Clapp, who presides over the probate case at the Wharton County District Court, has released that $60,000.00 benefit to Nikki Araguz, in recognition of Thomas Araguz's wishes. These are all indications that Thomas Araguz would be horrified by the ways in which he and his wife Nikki are being dishonored by Heather Delgado, and by his very own mother Simona Longoria, who together with Heather Delgado and Thomas's sister Raquel Araguz have publicly expressed their vindictive vitriol toward Nikki Araguz, all of which disrespects and dishonors the choices Thomas Araguz made during his lifetime. One person who has remained publicly absent and silent since Thomas Araguz's death is his brother Phillip Araguz, a gay man whose silence may indicate his disapproval of his mother's actions. The voices that Simona Longoria and Heather Delgado have lent to the story that is Thomas Araguz's epitaph, have been characterized primarily by dishonorable and defamatory epithets hurled by them at Nikki Araguz.

Thomas and Nikki Araguz
Thomas Araguz was an honorable man, who from the time he reached the age of majority, chose to devote his life to protecting the community where he was born and raised. For over ten of his short thirty years, Thomas Araguz had trained and served as a firefighter in Wharton, TX, reaching the rank of Captain, where the firefighters serve their community without salary, but with the promise from the community and the state of Texas that their efforts would be recognized and honored in other ways, including retirement benefits. After Thomas Araguz met Nikki Purdue at church, fell in love with her, lived with her, and married her, it was Nikki Araguz whose loving income enabled Thomas to honorably attend Wharton Community College to study for his associate's degree and Firefighter's certificate, with the hope that he might get a paying job as a firefighter and emergency medical technician in a city large enough to provide a salary. It was Nikki Araguz who honored her husband by using her income to be certain Thomas's child support payments were paid to the ex-wife Thomas divorced. It was Nikki Araguz who honored her husband Thomas Araguz, as stepmother to their two boys, together devoting their four days a week with them, to ensure their well being, education, and quality of life. It was Nikki Araguz who honored her husband, and was honored with an award from the Wharton Fire Department just months before Thomas's death, for her tireless fund raising efforts on behalf of his work. Thomas Araguz was an honorable man who deserves to have the love he shared with Nikki Araguz through marriage; honored, respected, and kept legally intact.

Heather Delgado and Simonia Longoria could honor the memory of Thomas Araguz most, by dismissing their foolhardy and pointlessly greedy lawsuit against Nikki Araguz. To do so would honor the love Thomas Araguz shared with, and gave to, Nikki Araguz. Dismissing the lawsuit would honor and respect Thomas's two sons, his sons' privacy, his sons' dignity, and their ability to honorably remember the father who clearly loved them deeply as well. If the three attorneys who represent Heather Delgado and Simona Longoria were truly interested in honoring and respecting Thomas Araguz, surely they would change their minds and persuade their clients to rethink what they have done, and the harm their shameful lawsuit has heaped on the memory and honor of Thomas Araguz, on Nikki Araguz, on Trevor Araguz, and on Tyler Araguz. That would be a fitting gesture for a Labor Day weekend that ought to honor the way Thomas Araguz labored hard, without monetary remuneration, with such devotion to his community of Wharton, TX that he gave his life doing so.


  1. Excellent article. Thank you for being articulate AND authentic. Joni Tucker- (Nikki's aunt)

  2. Once again, THANK YOU for such a remarkably honest and lucid article!

  3. Thank you for a wonderfully written article. Articles like yours will convey the truth as we all know it. Christy Wheeler, Cleveland, Texas (Nikki's aunt)

  4. Wonderful article - thank you for writing it!