Madisonville police sergeant honored with tree planting dedication and celebration of life ceremony

Sgt. Hector Camarillo was 47 when he died of natural causes exactly one year to the day of the ceremony
Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 10:47 PM CDT
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MADISONVILLE, Texas (KBTX) - Madisonville Police Sergeant Hector Camarillo was honored with a celebration of life ceremony Monday where a tree was planted in his honor in the department’s front yard. Camarillo passed away due to natural causes last April, he was 47 years old.

People from all walks of life were in attendance to remember someone Hector’s family said everybody in town knew and loved. The Madisonville mayor, city manager, and police chief all spoke about what he meant and accomplished for their community.

“The biggest thing I can say about him was that he loved everyone equally and he was always giving of himself,” Mike Camarillo, Hector’s older brother, said. “He touched a lot of people in this community here in Madisonville, the county, and the surrounding areas. I know there’s a lot of businesses and citizens here in Madisonville that thought the world of him, and he thought the same of them.”

Those qualities of the sergeant were on full display throughout the ceremony. It was evident by those who were there to honor Hector.

“He was very strong. He was very persistent. He knew what he wanted to do and how he needed to do it,” Camarillo said. “But the one big thing that he had was he had a huge heart.”

Mike says Hector wanted to be a police officer all his life, even when he was just a little kid. He worked for multiple law enforcement agencies in Brazos and Madison counties before settling in with the Madisonville Police Department.

“Ever since I can remember being kids and running around, my little brother always wanted to be a police officer,” Camarillo said. “That’s something that he carried with him all his life. Playing outside, when he was in elementary school, junior high, he always had an interest in what the police were doing.”

Mike says Hector worked just so he could pay his way through the police academy, and it was something he was headstrong about.

“He did the academy at night and worked during the day,” Camarillo said. “Nothing was going to stop him from doing that. When he got his first job as a police officer, he was elated. He was happy. He had the biggest smile on his face.”

“The best way to describe Hector was loyalty,” Madisonville Police Chief Herbert Gilbert said. “Sergeant Hector Camarillo was loyal to whatever he did, to the police department, to the community. Hector could probably get anything he wanted in this community. That’s just the kind of person he was.”

Hector was involved in a major accident in 2010 while he was on duty working for the sheriff’s office. His car was struck head-on, and he suffered major damage to the left side of his body in the crash. Many of his bones on that side of his body were broken or fractured.

“He wasn’t expected to ever walk again,” Camarillo said. “Through sheer will, he did all the physical therapy and did everything it took to get back on patrol again. When he came back to work, he came back patrolling the streets and interstates, not a desk job or anything like that.”

A live oak tree was planted in the front yard of the police department as a living testament to Hector’s legacy. Two benches are also expected to be donated so people can sit there and enjoy a warm, sunny afternoon, much like the one that set the scene for Monday’s ceremony.

This is the live oak tree that was planted and dedicated in Hector's honor at his celebration...
This is the live oak tree that was planted and dedicated in Hector's honor at his celebration of life ceremony Monday.(KBTX)

“To have this tree here now as a representation of him and what his values were, says a lot about him and how the community feels him and the police department,” Camarillo said.

“Hopefully, people will just come and sit down and remember anything special that he has done for them, or any memory that they’ve encountered with him,” Gilbert said. “We’re proud to have dedicated this ceremony to him.”

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