Cook-Walden Chapel of the Hills Funeral Home
9700 Anderson Mill Road
Austin, TX 78750
(512) 335-1155
For more information about
More Obituaries for Cecilia GRATIAS
Looking for an obituary for a different person with this name?


1964 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Cecilia GRATIAS Obituary
GRATIAS, Cecilia "Ceci" Cecilia "Ceci" Lourdes Bulaong Gratias, 53, beloved community activist and LGBTQ leader, passed away peacefully just after midnight Sunday, November 5, in Austin, Texas. She was born February 11, 1964 in Manila Philippines, where she attended St. Theresa's College of Quezon City (primary), the University of Santo Tomas (high school), and the University of the Philippines. As a youngster in Metro Manila, Ceci played basketball with her catholic schoolmates and loved getting silly and hula dancing with her cousin Rona, who was born one year and one day after Ceci. Ceci Gratias is survived by her Austin family, cousins Joju & Rona Quejada, niece Maegan & TJ Giere, nephew Jay & Mel Quejada,,Denise & Sabi Bulla, Deb & Nicole Love, Tim Chee, Jeff Arnold, Doug Plummer, and Jimmy Flannigan. She loved her family in the Philippines and is survived her parents, Oscar & Corazon Bulaong, Raul & Ichay Bulaong, Oscar & Tina Bulaong, Jr., Ela Bulaong, and nieces and nephew: Marina, Mariel, Joaquim Manolo and Diego. In her youth, Ceci was a member of the Focolare Movement religious organization and in 1985, had the opportunity to visit Italy to attend a conference and meet the pope. After her trip to Italy, and unbeknownst to her family, she saved her allowance and used the money to fly to the U.S. directly from Europe. As so many other members of the LGBTQ family before her, Ceci embarked on an adventure to find her place to call home, to live her truth. She found it in Austin, Texas where she eventually moved to live with her cousin Rona and Rona's family. Here, Ceci bloomed. She began the path in public service that would define the rest of her life. As a board member of the Austin Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, she met the fellow board member who would become her best friend and work partner, Jimmy Flannigan. On a beautiful night at a coffeeshop in North Austin, Ceci and Jimmy sat out on the patio brainstorming about their dreams. Jimmy remembers this as the night when they committed to their joined path in local activism that played out over the course of nearly 20 years. The two pals volunteered in various capacities, including coordination of early Pride festivals and parades. Their work marked the AGLCC's greatest period of growth and innovation, greatly expanding the mission, goals, and outreach. Ceci was the second recipient of the group's leadership award named after Flannigan after he left to run for City Council. Ceci helped conceive and launch the organization's scholarship foundation and served as its first President and CEO. Following her cancer diagnosis, Gratias role at the AGLCC ended. It broke her heart. Earlier this year, she was chosen by the Human Rights CampaignTexas to receive the 2017 Bettie Naylor Visibility Award, a prestigious commendation for promoting and embodying LGBTQ visibility. The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce will commemorate her life and legacy at their annual National Dinner celebration held in Washington, DC. Gratias also worked in Austin with OutYouth, Allgo, Queerbomb, HRC-Austin, Lifeworks' homeless youth program, MLK Day of Service, Hate Crimes Task Force, and Austin Lyric Opera's Triangle on Stage. As the Austin Chronicle said in a 2015 profile of her: "We challenge any local activist to match that range." Her work embodied the values she held dear kindness, social justice, humility, public service, and the rights of individuals to live and love in truth. Her work diversified the scope of traditional activism to include and encourage intersectional collaborations with groups from all ages, races, orientations, beliefs, and economic backgrounds. She was a bridge builder extraordinaire whose bright tenacity made the world a better place. The culmination of her long and vibrant career of public service was the chance to work closely with her good friend Flannigan, this time at Austin City Hall. The newly elected Council Member hired her upon his election to represent District 6. Ceci's devout catholic faith shined until her final moments, with rosary in hand, a tribute to Our Lady of Lourdes. A Memorial and Celebration of Life in honor of Cecilia "Ceci" Lourdes Gratias will be held at Austin City Hall, 301 W. 2nd Street, in the Public Plaza, Sunday, November 12, at 4pm. Mayor Steve Adler will read a Proclamation dedicating the day to her. A downtown procession to a Celebration of Life at OilCan Harry's will follow. The public is invited to attend. The family will hold private services in the Philippines, her final resting place.
Published in Austin American-Statesman on Nov. 9, 2017
Read More