BROWNSVILLE, TX. -
Blanca Sanchez Vela, 77, beloved mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, friend, and community advocate passed away at her residence in Brownsville on February 19, 2014.
She was born in Harlingen to Maria R. "Cuca" Sanchez and Luis M. Sanchez. She was married to the late United States Federal Judge Filemon B. Vela, who preceded her in death in 2004.
Blanca was elected the first female mayor of the City of Brownsville in 1999. As mayor, she was proud of having served those most in need in her community, especially the children. She was an ardent advocate of literacy, and worked hard as Co-Chair of the Brownsville Library Foundation to establish the first city library in Brownsville, and later established the Southmost branch. She was also an advocate for women, being the first female member and Chairwoman of the Brownsville Public Utilities Board where she encouraged the promotion of female engineers and managers. Her commitment to public service was evident through the many community organizations and philanthropies, which she generously supported with her time.
Blanca was a firm believer in education and obtained her Bachelor's and Master's Degree from Pan American University. She continued to be active in community affairs and in local, state, and national politics. She also served as a counselor at St. Joseph's Academy where she mentored many individuals who have gone on to become leaders in the community.
Blanca's generosity was well known in the community. Together with her husband, both believed education transformed lives. Following her husband's death, she established the Vela Memorial Scholarship Fund and the Blanca and Filemon Vela Endowed Scholarship at the University of Texas
Blanca is survived by her children: Congressman Filemon (Rose) B. Vela, Jr., Rafael Vela, and Sylvia Vela; her grandchildren: Alexandra, Carolina, Christian, Gaston, Zaylee, and Brynlee; her siblings: Luis (Emma) Sanchez, Jr., Socorro (Robertoâ€ ) Galvan, Arturo Sanchez, Maria de Jesus (Crispin) Guzman, Irma (Ruben) Sanchez Pena, Roy (Nelda) Sanchez, and Mary Louise (Jerry) Prepejchal; and numerous nieces, nephews, and other extended family members.
Mrs. Vela will lie in state starting at 1:00 p.m. on Friday, February 21st. The family will start receiving friends at 4:00 p.m. with the recitation of the holy Rosary at 7:00 p.m. Friday evening in the East Chapel at Darling Mouser Funeral Home. The Funeral Mass will be at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 22nd at Our Lady of Good Counsel, 1055 Military Highway, where Father Larry Klein will celebrate the Mass of Resurrection.
Blanca's nephews: Robert Sanchez, Jaime Guzman, Jay Sanchez, Luis Sanchez, Roque PeÃ±a, and Zachary Martinez are honored to be serving as Blanca's pallbearers.
Honorary pallbearers will be her dear friends whom she affectionately referred to as the "Divas", Paquita Chavez, Lupita Rivera, Nina Barbosa, and Sally Arroyo.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that memorial donations in Blanca's name be made to the Blanca and Filemon Vela Endowed Scholarship in care of the University of Texas Brownsville at One West University Blvd., Brownsville, TX 78520.
You may view the obituary, sign the guestbook, and send your condolences online to the Vela family at www.darlingmouser.com
Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Darling-Mouser Funeral Home, 945 Palm Blvd, Brownsville, Texas 78520, and (956) 546-7111.
Sign the guestbook at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/valleystar/