Throughout his entire life, Joe Cervantes was a dedicated man. Whether he was serving his country, building a career or caring for his family, Mr. Cervantes lived his life with love, energy and compassion. Staying true to his favorite Frank Sinatra song, he always did it his way. Joe Cervantes of El Paso died Friday, Dec. 20, 2013, following a yearlong battle from injuries sustained from a fall. Joe passed peacefully and was surrounded by loving family members. He was 77. He was born May 30, 1936, to Jose and Manuela (Mendoza) Cervantes in Chihuahua, Mexico. He married Lovilia Cervantes on Dec. 29, 1957. Joe served 10 years in the Air Force. Despite having a severe fear of heights, his job was to refuel jets as a boom operator on a KC135 airplane. He was the first Mexican-American and the youngest person on his crew. After serving in the Air Force, he began his long career as a restaurant manager and owner. He was the owner of the Leo's restaurant on Hondo Pass for many years. All of his friends and family would describe Joe as a man with energy to burn. So, after deciding to retire, he also decided he couldn't sit still. He opened and managed the restaurant at the American Legion Post 36 and became the commander of the Legion. In his spare time, his passion was to speak to high school and middle school students about the importance of education. Even stronger than his dedication to his country and his work was his dedication to his family. When his children were growing up, he spent his spare time coaching their athletic teams. He also made sure that all three of his children could attend college and begin their futures. His devotion to his children was transferred to his grandchildren as he grew older. He attended every one of his grandchildren's graduations and took all of his vacations to visit his grandchildren spread around the country. He could often be spotted wearing a t-shirt from one of the many colleges his grandchildren have attended. Joe Cervantes is survived by his wife, Lovilia Cervantes; three children, Sergio Cervantes, David Cervantes and his wife Katherine, and Leticia Velarde and her husband David; and nine grandchildren Kristin Cervantes, Andrea Cervantes, Alexa Cervantes Fontana, Erika Cervantes, Ciera Velarde, Victoria Cervantes, Jonathan Cervantes, Daniella Velarde, Ace Cervantes, and many nephews and nieces whom he dearly loved. A viewing will be held on Dec. 26 from 5-9 p.m. at Martin Mortuary Central with a rosary at 7 p.m. The funeral mass will be on Dec. 27 at St. Raphael Catholic Church at 9:15 a.m. followed by a burial at Fort Bliss Cemetery. Pallbearers will be Sergio Cervantes, David Cervantes, David Velarde, Jonathan Cervantes, Bobby Barron, Joey Herrera III, Danny Candelaria, Billy Terrazas Jr., and Ace Cervantes.
Published in El Paso Times from Dec. 24 to Dec. 31, 2013