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William Pena


1919 - 2018 Obituary Condolences Gallery
William Pena Obituary
WILLIAM MERRIWEATHER PEÑA
1919-2018
He was born in Laredo, Texas, on February 10, 1919, the second of three sons of Eduardo and Clementina Peña and was preceded in death by his parents and brothers Gustavo Peña and Augusto Peña. "Ed", as he was known, was a grocer most of his life and was elected to serve on the Laredo City Council for a decade. "Tina" was a homemaker and was a co-founder of the Society of Martha Washington in Laredo.
In 1942, at Texas A&M College, Peña received a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and a commission in the U. S. Army. He served in the European Theater of War with the 28th Infantry Division. He was involved in three major battles: Huertgen Forest, Battle of the Bulge, and the Liberation of Colmar. He retired from the Army in 1947 as a Captain and was awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. In 1991, he published his war memoir As Far As Schleiden. For his service, the French awarded him the Criox de Guerre in 1945, then the Chevalier of the National Order of the Legion of Honour (France's highest honor) in 2013. In 2014, he was one of five notable Aggies memorialized in the "Aggies Go to War" museum exhibit which opened in Belgium. Most recently, in 2016, the Kingdom of Belgium bestowed upon him the Honorary Distinction of Commander in the Order of the Crown. The medal was presented, in person, by Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid of Belgium, in College Station, Texas.
After the war, he returned to Texas A&M to receive a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1948. Upon graduation he joined the architecture firm of Caudill Rowlett and Scott (CRS) and became the fourth founding partner in 1949.
Peña is known as the Father of Architectural Programming. After 20 years of practice, he developed the Problem Seeking Programming Process and in 1969 he wrote the first edition of Problem Seeking with John Focke. The American Institute of Architects elevated him to AIA Fellow in 1972, in recognition of his contributions to programming and education. From 1970-73, he served as consultant to the Professional Examination Committee of the National Council on Architectural Registration Boards --- specifically, to write the programming section of the exam.
In 1998 he received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University (the first year the award was presented) in recognition of outstanding leadership and accomplishments. In 2015 he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award of Texas A&M University, the highest honor bestowed on former students of Texas A&M. In 2016, Willie endowed the William Merriweather Peña Scholarship at the Texas A&M College of Architecture. The scholarship was designed to benefit deserving students who have a financial need. It was the largest single gift the College had ever received.
The AIA Houston Chapter has honored William Peña three times: in 1990 with the Chapter Citation Award, in the year 2000 with the prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award, and in the year 2009 with a contribution, in his honor, to the AIA Houston Design Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.
Funeral arrangements to be announced
Published in Houston Chronicle on Feb. 11, 2018
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