STEPHEN HEMELT — 2nd generation success redefining Port Arthur’s stories to share

Published 12:05 am Saturday, May 15, 2021

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Santos Vargas sent an email to The Port Arthur News in late April, sharing some good news with the community that did so much for him.

As a relatively recent local resident, moving here in June of 2019, my path and Santos’ never crossed. So, his story was new to me.

He was born at Park Place Hospital in 1977, the son of immigrants. His parents, Laura and Benito Vargas Sr., raised their family on Neches Avenue in Port Arthur in a home that included four children.

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Santos grew up with support from two large families behind both of his parents and nurtured those roots at Val Verde Christian Academy in Groves and St. Catherine of Siena Catholic School in Port Arthur before eventually attending Catholic high school and college pursuits at New Mexico Military Institute, St. Mary’s University and Syracuse University.

Today, Santos practices law and is a shareholder at Davis & Santos in San Antonio. We were able to connect ahead of Santos taking over as chair of the State Bar of Texas Board of Directors.

In an announcement shared across the state, Santos said, “As the son of immigrants who never had an opportunity to obtain an education in their home country, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities this country has provided me. I have consistently strived to give back through service, including to the legal profession.”

With those words, I knew our community would be interested in learning more about their local son working to give back on a statewide level.

During our correspondence, I asked if Santos would be interested in sharing his story in the latest issue of Greater Port Arthur The Magazine.

He said “yes,” and the rest is history. His profile, published under the “Why I Love Port Arthur” banner will be available to the public this month, along with the rest of our featured stories.

Santos says anyone taking a quick look around Greater Port Arthur today can see a large number of businesses started by immigrants or their children, noting many parents who immigrated to Port Arthur from different countries have children who are now doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists, pharmacists or business owners.

“These families are part of the social fabric and the economic lifeblood of Port Arthur,” he said. “Immigrant families know and understand the struggle to achieve success. I am but one of many success stories. These are the stories you do not often hear about in the media. If my story can provide inspiration to any of those immigrant children to continue their journey toward success, I can think of no greater professional accomplishment.”

That is precisely why we publish Greater Port Arthur The Magazine. Our community’s stories deserve more recognition and publicity. If you know of one we missed, please send us a line.

A quick run through of some of our other stories includes profiles on Mid County educators Jon Deckert and Dena Foust.

We also catch up with recent NFL draft pick and LSU national champion Kary Vincent Jr.

College football diehards need not worry. We also talk with Texas Longhorns running back Roschon Johnson as he prepares for year 3 in the Big 12.

Food and entrepreneur fans go behind the scenes with El Viejo Tony owner Jose Antonio Garcia, who started as a dishwasher and is now planning restaurant ownership across two states.

A cool feature follows Port Neches-Groves alumna Chloe Chiasson, who has carved out a path as a professional large-scale multimedia artist in New York City.

We invite you to be on the look out for these stories and more in the magazine next week.

Feel free to pick up a complimentary copy by stopping at our office, 2349 Memorial Blvd. in Port Arthur.

If you are interested in receiving a 6-edition-per-year subscription delivered directly to your mailbox, call 409-721-2400 for details.


Stephen Hemelt is president of Port Arthur Newsmedia, which publishes The Port Arthur News, Greater Port Arthur The Magazine and operates You can reach him at or 409-721-2445.