Rabago, Maria Teresa (1951–2010)

By: Julia Schoolenberg and R. Matt Abigail

Type: Biography

Published: February 13, 2018

Updated: February 7, 2018

Maria Teresa “Terrie” Rabago, Austin community leader and activist, daughter of Juan Rabago and Maria Elena Hinojosa, was born in Edinburg, Texas, on February 19, 1951. Rabago and her seven siblings were raised primarily by her grandparents, and she often spent her summers as a migrant farmworker in Michigan and Indiana. Rabago attended public schools in Edinburg and graduated from Edinburg High School in 1970. She enrolled at the University of Texas–Pan American (now the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley) to study marketing but was unable to complete her degree. She eventually returned to school and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1995 with a degree in Spanish. Rabago married Gilbert Villarreal, Jr., on October 19, 1968. They had two daughters and divorced in 1974. She later married Sam Coronado, Jr., an Austin artist, on December 3, 1988; they divorced in 1991.

In 1980 Rabago relocated to Austin, where she worked as a marketing coordinator at Execucom Systems until 1987. She then worked as an administrative assistant in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Texas at Austin for three years before obtaining an administrative position in the state auditor’s office. In 1992 she moved to the state comptroller’s office, where she worked in a similar capacity for fifteen years. In 2006 she obtained a real estate broker’s license and founded Rabago Realty Group, Inc.

Throughout her career, Rabago was involved in dozens of civic, political, and professional organizations at the state and local level. By the early 1990s she had emerged as an influential member of Austin’s Hispanic community. This began in 1987 after she attended the first meeting of the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas and was inspired to become a champion for young Latinas, in particular. In addition to serving on the board of directors of the Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas (HWNT), the Latinitas Foundation, the Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Association, the Mexican American State Employee Association, TEACH Quest, and the Austin History Center, among others, she was a leading member of the American Association of University Women, the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Hispanic Realtors, and the Austin Women’s Political Caucus. Also, Rabago served as president of the HWNT’s Austin chapter and was a community advisor for Kappa Delta Chi, a Latina sorority at the University of Texas at Austin. In 1997 she was selected to participate in the prestigious Leadership Texas program, a project of the Foundation for Women’s Resources that identifies and develops women leaders.

Rabago’s connections to a wide range of local organizations frequently worked to the benefit of important community initiatives, such as in 1991, when she organized the E+ Coalition, an alliance of twenty different Hispanic organizations that challenged the Austin Independent School District’s redistricting plans. The close relationships she forged at the community level also led to her appointment to the Austin American-Statesman Community Advisory Board, as well as the city of Austin’s historic landmark and zoning and platting commissions. In addition, she worked on a number of political campaigns, including those of State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos, Jr., U.S. Senate candidate Victor M. Morales, and gubernatorial candidate Tony Sanchez. In the 1990s, Rabago also contributed as a freelance writer to numerous publications, including Texas Hispanic Magazine, Arriba, La Prensa, and the Austin Light.

Maria Teresa Rabago passed away on December 20, 2010, in Austin, and was interred at Cook-Walden Capital Parks Cemetery.

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Austin American-Statesman, April 20, 1994; October 10, 2003; December 26, 2010. Vertical Files, Austin History Center. 

  • Peoples
  • Mexican Americans
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Activists
  • Civic Leaders
  • Politics and Government
  • Women
  • Women's Clubs
Time Periods:
  • Texas Post World War II

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Julia Schoolenberg and R. Matt Abigail, “Rabago, Maria Teresa,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 25, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/rabago-maria-teresa.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 13, 2018
February 7, 2018

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: