Lorraine Castro Camacho was born in Austin, Texas, on August 21, 1917. She was the daughter of Francisco and Helen (Fuentes) Castro. In 1927 the family moved to Taylor, Texas, where Lorraine, at the age of ten, started her schooling, but her education during the year was limited by the family’s work of picking cotton. She attended school until she was sixteen. In the mid-1930s she was twice named La Reyna at the Diez y Seis de Septiembre celebration in Taylor. She then worked at Hub Tailor Company in Taylor. Lorraine Castro married Daniel C. Camacho, a carpenter, in Taylor on January 1, 1940, and they had four children: Daniel, Dolores, Dolly, and Darlene.
In 1950 the Camacho family moved to Austin and settled in a residence on Canterbury Street next to Metz Elementary School in East Austin. Lorraine’s grandparents, Eulogio and Pilar Luna, had settled in Austin in the early 1870s and were key citizens in the development of the Mexican American community there. Daniel and Lorraine Camacho were well-known and respected in their community. Lorraine Camacho was active in the PTA, and she worked for the Austin Independent School District Food Service Department at Zavala Elementary School and then Metz Elementary School (1967–79). She and her husband were co-presidents of the Johnston High PTA (1968–70). She championed equal education and was very politically and socially active in her community. She campaigned for Hispanic politicians such as Gonzalo Barrientos, Richard Moya, and John Trevino.
In 1968 Lorraine Camacho was a founding member of the East First Street Neighborhood Center Advisory Committee. During the years, she was also a member of the Carpenters Ladies Auxiliary, the Austin Salvation Army’s Home League, and the Order of the Eastern Star. The Camachos were active in getting the Holly Street Power Plant in East Austin closed, and they brought awareness to the community about the increase in drugs and violence. For years they opened their home as a safe haven for children in physical and mental distress who needed a temporary safe place, and their home was eventually officially declared a “McGruff House” by the mid-1990s. After her retirement, Lorraine Camacho took particular interest in the safety and education of the children of Metz Elementary School, and she was known as “Grandma Camacho.” She participated in the “Reading is Fundamental” program at the school and was instrumental in the fight for a new school building which was constructed by the early 1990s.
Camacho received a variety of awards throughout her lifetime, including the Austin Light’s Neighborhood Mom Award (1990), 1991 AISD Volunteer of the Year Award (an honor that she shared with her daughter Darlene), Fiestas Patrias 1991, the Mexican American Business and Professional Women’s Association (MABPWA) Lifetime Award in Education and Community Service in 1993, and the AISD 1996 Hispanic Heritage Community Service Award. Austin mayor Bruce Todd declared September 15, 1991, to be “Lorraine Camacho Day.”
Lorraine Castro Camacho died in Austin on December 29, 1999. She was buried in Assumption Cemetery Mausoleum in Austin. In 2000 the community named an activity center, the Lorraine “Grandma” Camacho Activity Center—a facility to provide year-round activities, events, and classes for children—in her honor.