Former mayor pro tem remembered as a beloved curmudgeon who was dedicated to his community

DAVID TAFFET | Senior Staff Writer
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John Loza, 54, passed away suddenly at his home on Tuesday, June 19.
Councilman Adam Medrano made the announcement at the June 20 morning council briefing.

“I’m still in shock,” Medrano said at the council meeting. “I have a broken heart. We lost former Mayor Pro Tem John Loza last night. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Mr. John Loza.”

Medrano said Loza asked him to run for school board and the council.

Councilwoman Sandy Greyson served her first four terms on the council, from 1997-2005, with Loza. He was, she said, “probably my favorite council member. He could be so snarky, but you just had to like him.”

“John was a trailblazer,” City Councilman Omar Narvaez said of Loza. “He always stood up for what he believed in. He’s a big reason we have a nondiscrimination ordinance in Dallas. We’ve lost a great man.”

City Councilman Philip Kingston said he couldn’t comment on Loza’s death and stay dry-eyed. “He was a really good friend to have and a trusted advisor,” he said. “He left the city significantly better than he found it.”

Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway ordered city flags to fly at half-staff in honor of Loza.

While on the council, Loza helped write and pass the city’s non-discrimination ordinance. After leaving City Hall, he returned to practicing law full time and continued serving the community.

He served on the board of Prism Health North Texas, then known as AIDS Arms, from 2005-2012 and was board chair from 2011-2012. It was during his tenure as board chair that the agency opened its Oak Cliff clinic.

“He was a huge community champion and leader,” Prism Health North Texas’ Chief Marketing and Development Officer Tori Hobbs said. “We were honored to have him serve on the board.”

Loza served for two years as a city of Dallas representative on the DFW Airport Board.

A number of elected officials, including council members Rickey Callahan, Narvaez and Medrano, credited Loza with encouraging them to run and advising them once they were in office. Loza was serving as treasurer to DISD school board member Miguel Solis’ campaign when he died.

Also at the time of his death, he was serving on the board of OutLast Youth, founded by members of the Mayor’s LGBT Task Force and an off-shoot of Promise House that deals with youth homelessness.

Loza’s husband, David Hill, said going to Transgender Day of Remembrance events was always important to them.

Loza grew up in Mesquite. After graduating from St. Marks School in Dallas, he earned a B.A. in government from Harvard University in 1985, and a J.D. from Southern Methodist School of Law in 1988. He was elected to the Dallas City Council at the age of 33 and served four terms.

He worked as an associate Dallas County district attorney from 1989-1994. From 1994-2015, he maintained a private law practice, then joined Escamilla & Poneck, LLP in 2015.

Loza met his husband before he was first elected, and they had their first date on Valentine’s Day in 1997. They were married in November 2015.

In addition to his husband, Loza is survived by his brothers, Michael and Vincent, and his sister, Cynthia, several nieces and nephews and several cats.

“You are a trailblazer that lifted many of us Gaytinos,” Rainbow LULAC founder Jesse Garcia said in tribute to Loza. “Thank you for fighting the good fight in the courthouse, Dallas City Hall and the community.”