Herculano C. Ferralez, our family patriarch, died at home on Wednesday, August 20, 2014. He is preceded in death by his father, Eulojio Ferralez; mother Agustina Castillo Ferralez and grandson Michael Steve. He is survived by Modesta Brito Ferralez, his loving wife of 67 years, son Daniel (Eva) and daughters Ernestine and Irene (Carolyn). He is beloved by 9 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren and 7 great-great-grandchildren.
Born in Las Cruces, on November 7, 1924, Herculano left high school in 1942 at age seventeen to join the United States Air Force. Due to an inability to distinguish colors, he was directed to the Army and was drafted in 1943. Sent to England, Herculano was dispatched to the command of General George Patton as part of the Fourth Armored Division to prepare for the invasion of the European continent. In June 1944, on the beaches of Normandy (France), American infantry battalions valiantly secured beachheads large enough to provide landing facilities for the tanks of the Fourth Armored Division. Herculano's division accumulated ammunition, food, fuel, medical supplies and personnel to push the German fighters back across the continent. They were sent to Bastogne, Belgium to protect the 101st Airborne Division from being surrounded by German Army armored units. This battle would be remembered as the "Battle of the Bulge"and the beginning of the end of Nazi Germany. As the Fourth Armored Division raced across Europe into Germany, they met little resistance on their path to Ohrdouf, Germany to liberate a concentration camp. Herculano did not know what a concentration camp was. He was told their mission was to secure the camp for the Red Cross and the American soldiers who would document and photograph the atrocities found there. Herculano could not fathom the torture of innocent victims by their fellow human beings. He was awarded the European-African-Middle Eastern Ribbon, a Good Conduct Medal, Distinguished Unit Badge and a Victory Ribbon. Then he came home to build a life as so many others would. He was one of America's Greatest Generation.
Herculano was discharged from the US Army in December 1945. He returned to Las Cruces, completed high school and got married. His first job was working as a radio announcer for station KOBE and hosting the Latina Americana Program. He later joined his father in the family grocery business (Bella Vista Grocery). In 1972 he moved the store to the corner of Mesquite and Chestnut Streets, expanded the size and renamed the market Bella Vista Quick Mart.
He loved his community and wanted to be of service to the people of Las Cruces. He believed every child should have access to a good education in a quality school. His first project involved lobbying his government officials for more funds to improve the nursing room at Booker T. Washington Elementary School then enrolled his children in the school. His interest in government and opportunities for community improvement lead to Herculano serving as a City Commissioner for over 15 years and serving as Mayor from 1988-1990. He was proud to help improve and establish improvements in schools, mental health programs, a hospital, a Vererans' Memorial, and urban renewal projects. He maintained a table and chairs in his store as a meeting place for his constiuents to meet and discuss their concerns.
A kind and generous man, Herculano gave away many bags of food to those in need. He had advice for those seeking guidance and a smile or a joke to brighten someone's day. We will miss him and the gifts he gave us every day. Rest in peace Papa.
The family invites you to a Rosary for Mr. Ferralez at 7 PM Tuesday, August 26, 2014 in Baca's Chapel of Prayer, 300 E. Boutz Road. The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 AM Wednesday August 27, 2014 in Our Lady of Health Catholic Church, 1178 N. Mesquite Street with the Fathers of the Augustinian Recollects officiating. The Rite of Committal and Interment will follow in Hillcrest Memorial Gardens Cemetery, 5140 W. Picacho Avenue where he will be laid to rest. Military Honors will be accorded by the New Mexico Army National Guard Honor Guard and the Marine Corps League - El Perro Diablo Detachment.
Serving as casket bearers will be Patricia and Johnny Arrey, Thomas, Dallas and Jeremy Felch, Bobby Zavala, Sam Bravo and David Ferralez. Honorary bearers will be Daniel Ferralez, Myra Manchaca and Larry Alejo.
Service arrangements have been entrusted to the care of Baca's Funeral Chapels of Las Cruces 527-2222. Your exclusive providers for "Veterans and Family Memorial Care". For online condolences logon to www.bacasfuneralchapelslascruces.com
Baca's Funeral Chapels
300 East Boutz
Las Cruces, NM 88004
Published in Las Cruces Sun-News on Aug. 24, 2014