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Obituary – Jose “Pepe” De La Fuente
November 16, 2018
MISSION – Jose “Pepe” de la Fuente peacefully entered the presence of our loving God on Saturday, November 10, 2018, at Las Palmas Healthcare Center at the age of 94. He was born on Feb. 28, 1924, in a ranchito by the Rio Grande River named La Tortuga, to the late Marcelino de la Fuente and Otila Perez de la Fuente.
Also preceding him in death were his siblings, Clemente (Angelita+) de la Fuente and Dora (Liberato+) Corpus, his brother-in-law Ismael (Gloria Irma) Martinez, his loving wife, Maria Irene Alejos de la Fuente, his daughter, Norma Irene de la Fuente Davis, and his grandson, Joseph Frank Davis.
Pepe’s early life was spent helping his father with the family farm. His family needed him to leave high school and fulfill his brother’s chores after his brother was drafted to the war. Pepe took great pride in this responsibility and developed exceptional skills in planting and harvesting crops and in managing field workers. Soon many agricultural companies in the area sought him out and hired him to be their field supervisors. While working at these jobs, he also made time to help his father-in-law, Refugio Alejos, Sr., open the Citrus Cafe restaurant. Pepe would show up early in the morning to help with the cooking before going to work at his own job. Later in life, he decided to use his land’s proximity to the Rio Grande River to his advantage. Whenever he had any time off, he literally designed and built Pepe’s Boat Ramp by himself. It took him several years, but he did it; and, it was a success. His next project was the ever popular Pepe’s on the River at the same location. Due to its popularity, Pepe’s on the River was featured in newspapers and magazines and appeared on featured television programs. Today, this venue is fondly remembered by residents from throughout the valley as well as the valley’s winter Texan population who frequented it on a weekly basis.
Pepe was truly a self-made man. Every one of his accomplishments was attained through his ingenuity and self-taught skills. It can be said that his family’s well-being was always at the forefront of all his hard work. In his spare time, he was never too tired or too busy to spend quality time with his beloved family.
On a lighter note, Pepe believed he had two strong claims to fame. He would beam with pride whenever they were mentioned. One was his business, Pepe’s on the River and the other was playing with Tom Landry on the 1941 Mission Eagle football team that won the regional championship. This was the highest attainable title for Class A at the time. He would proudly share, “I played guard for the team. My job was to open up holes for the quarterback, Tom Landry, to score touchdowns. In the end, Tom Landry got all the fame and glory; I got all the bumps and bruises.” Pepe is survived by his children: Sandra de la Fuente Gaulke, Jose “Joey” de la Fuente, and Michael (Carla) de la Fuente. His sister, Gloria Irma Martinez, also survives him. Pepe is additionally survived by his grandchildren: Natalie Denise Davis, George Gerard Davis, Rachael Nicole (Mehdi) Gaulke Mohammed, Amanda Marie (Oscar) de la Fuente Gonzalez, Christopher Lee de la Fuente, and Sarah Irene de la Fuente. Also surviving him are his great grandchildren: Elias Bazan IV, Arrik George Bazan, Isabella Marie Gonzalez, Nathaniel Oscar Gonzalez, Osman Jose (OJ) Mohammed, and Joseph Matthan Davis. Pepe is survived by his special friend, Shirley Dodge.
Visitation and rosary will be held at Ric Brown Family Funeral Home in Mission on Thursday, November 15, 2018, from 3-9 PM with a rosary being recited at 7:00 PM. Funeral mass will be held at 10:00 AM on Friday, November 16, 2018, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. A private burial will take place at a later date. Services are under the direction of Ric Brown Family Funeral Home of Mission.