PHARR - Guadalupe Gonzalez, loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, brother and brother-in-law, affectionately known as "Mano" and "Lou," entered eternal rest on Thursday, September 16, 2010 after a short fight with lung cancer, a condition attributed to exposure to Agent Orange while serving in Vietnam.
He was born on May 16, 1932 in Cameron County, Texas. His father, Guadalupe, his mother, Raquel Farias Gonzalez and infant sister, Alicia, preceded him in death.
He is survived by his loving wife, Gloria, of 58 years, son Robert (Susan) Gonzalez, daughter Nelda Peterson, five grandchildren: Stephanie Gonzalez (Julian) Ashby, Kali Gonzalez, Jordan (Sara), Joshua and Jared (Andrea) Peterson, four great-grandchildren, his sister, Belia Godinez, brother Raul Gonzalez and numerous nephews and nieces.
"Mano" was a star pitcher in 1950 for the PSJA Bears while in High School, and continued playing baseball while in the Air Force. While stationed at Homestead AFB, Boise, Idaho, faithful migrant workers from the valley would attend his games. He had his own "groupies" before that term ever became popular.
Later on he began playing golf, a sport he enjoyed for almost 50 years. However, it became the source of many heated discussions with his wife, Gloria.
"Mano" joined the U. S. Air Force in 1951, and retired in 1975 as a Senior Master Sergeant. "Mano" distinguished himself while serving with the Air Force. He was awarded numerous decorations including the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster and the Air Force Commendation Medal with One Oak Leaf Cluster. He had two tours of duty in England, one of those tours was a three-year assignment to the U. S. Embassy in London. In 1969 he was deployed to Vietnam where he served for a year. From Vietnam, he was assigned to Hawaii for a four-year tour of duty. Thereafter, he was assigned to Randolph AFB in San Antonio where he served as Base Sergeant Major until his retirement in 1975.
Immediately after retirement from the Air Force, he joined the U S. Border Patrol, with duty in Eagle Pass, Texas.
While stationed in Eagle Pass with the Border Patrol, he and his wife Gloria belonged to St. Joseph's Catholic Church, where they both served as Eucharistic Ministers and Lectors for many years. He and Gloria served as volunteers for the church for numerous activities over the years.
He retired from the Border Patrol in l995 after 20 years of service. Overall, he had a very successful career with the Air Force and Border Patrol.
"Mano" was a lifetime member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars where he was appointed post Chaplain. He was also a member of the City of Eagle Pass Bridge Advisory Board. He served the City of Eagle Pass as a member of the Civilian Review Committee, whose primary function was to review formal citizen complaints alleging misconduct by police officers, recommending to the Chief of Police what disciplinary actions, if any, to be taken on the officers if the complaints were substantiated.
Additionally, while in Eagle Pass, he was instrumental in naming one of the major thoroughfares (that now takes you to the casino) "Veteran's Blvd."
Ever the faithful government servant, and having had experience on how to persuade local governments, he was also instrumental in renaming "I Road" in Pharr, "Veteran's Blvd."
In 2006 due to health problems, "Mano" and Gloria moved back to Pharr to be near relatives, after a 55-year hiatus. They re-established friendships with childhood and school friends. After all those years away from Pharr, the support and love they both received from their families and friends during their illness are greatly appreciated by his survivors.
"Mano's" family wants to especially thank his sister Belia, brother Raul, nephew Brian Godinez, and Gloria's sisters Rosario Garza and her husband Roy, Raquenel Palacios and brother-in-law Jose Vela. They were the ones who took turns to drive him to the cancer center for his daily treatments. Rosario and Raquenel were always on call, 24/7 when "Mano" needed help with his wife and himself or for moral support. "Mano's" children Robert and Nelda, who live in San Antonio, would alternate weekends to spend time with them, providing all their love and support. Also thanks to sister-in-law Olga Vela who would take care of Gloria while "Mano" attended his doctor's visits. A very special thanks to Sylvia Rios who initially provided caregiver services for "Mano's" wife, Gloria, and ultimately for him after he was diagnosed with lung cancer. He always said Sylvia was an angel that God sent to provide tender love and care to both him and Gloria. Also, a special thanks to Norma Garza Cobb, Gloria's long time childhood friend, who would spend many overnights at "Mano" and Gloria's house, especially when he felt very ill after undergoing chemo and radiation treatments. For this the family is very grateful. "Mano's" family also expresses their gratitude to all who offered healing prayers. And a very special thanks to the US Border Patrol for all their spiritual, emotional and physical support during this very difficult time.
Visitation will be held on Monday, September 20, 2010 from 5-9 pm with a rosary recited at 7:00 p.m. at Memorial Funeral Home in San Juan, Texas. Funeral service will be Tuesday, September 21, 2010, at 1:00 pm at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, 122 W. Hawk in Pharr, Texas. Interment will follow at Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery, 2520 S. Inspiration Rd. in Mission, Texas, at 3:00 pm. Full military honors will be conducted by VFW Post 3895 of La Joya.
Pallbearers will be grandsons Jordan, Joshua and Jared Peterson, brother Raul Gonzalez, nephew Brian Godinez and cousin Artemio "Chemo" Palacios. Honorary pallbearers will be brothers-in-law Roy Garza, Jose Vela, and Oscar Palacios and cousins, Leo "Polo" Palacios, Hector "Tito" Palacios and Oscar Palacios.
Funeral services have been entrusted to Memorial Funeral Home of San Juan, Texas.
Sign the guest book at www.themonitor.com/obituaries
Published in The Monitor on Sept. 19, 2010