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Obituary – Oton “Tony” Guerrero Jr.
MISSION – Oton “Tony” Guerrero Jr., 96, died on January 2, 2021. Tony was born in Mission, Texas on October 29, 1924, to Othon Guerrero Sr. and Manuela S. Guerrero. Tony grew up as the eldest of eleven children; he interrupted his education to enlist in the US Navy during W.W.II, but he returned to graduate from Mission High School, where he had previously played on the football team with future NFL and great Tom Landry; subsequently, he attended Edinburg Jr. College and Texas A&M University on golf scholarships; he completed his Bachelors degree at Texas A&M in 1951 and he later earned a Master degree in Public School Administration now known as Texas A&M University- Kingsville.
Following his graduation from college, Tony began his career in education as a teacher with the Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District; in 1959, he accepted an appointment as an elementary school principal in Mission Consolidated Independent School District becoming the First Hispanic Principal of a Mission public school (Citriana Elementary, currently known as Capt. Joaquin Castro Elementary after his uncle); while working in both Edinburg and Mission; he also coached the varsity golf team in each community.
Tony Guerrero joined the faculty of the University of Texas- Pan American in 1968 as a Physical Education Professor and the UTPA Bronc Golf Coach. He founded the International Collegiate Golf Tournament to promote the sport among student athletes in both the United States and Mexico, and its first championship was won by an up-and-coming player named Ben Crenshaw; over the years, competition continued to attract numerous top collegiate golfers; Tony coached players from many countries, and his athletes achieved an impressive 96 percent graduation rate; in 1992, Tony stepped down as Head Golf Coach and Physical Education Professor to accept a post at UTPA as Assistant Athletic Director, an office he held until his retirement in 1997.
The recipient of numerous accolades, Tony Guerrero was a member of the All-American Intercollegiate Golf Hall of Fame, the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame, The University of Texas – Pan American Sports Hall of Fame and The University of Houston Sports Hall of Fame for his long dedication and service to sports. This engaged citizen has long demonstrated an exceptional commitment to his community; he gave generously of his time and talents to the City of Mission’s Community Development Block Grant Program, and he has been a fourth degree member of the Knights of Columbus for 60 years; moreover, he was active in the International Order of Alhambra, El Cid Caravan No. 106, which works in behalf of children with special needs, and he is a former Grand-Commander of the organization; he is a former president of the Serra Club dedicated to vocations to the priesthood and sisterhood. He is a member of the Catholic War Veterans American Legion Post #1065, and he served St. Paul’s Catholic Church as an Eucharistic Minister and as a member of the Finance Committee. In his leisure time, he gave free golf lessons to local high school students and others; he established the area’s Annual Special Olympics event, and he was the recipient of the 2012 Mission Historical Museum President’s Pioneer Family Award.
Tony Guerrero has shared sixty- eight years of marriage with his wife, Emma (Cabaza) Guerrero; he was the proud father of 6 college graduates, Yolanda G. Villarreal, Oton Joaquin “Tony”Guerrero, Sonya G.Garza, Dora G. Espinoza, Sara G. Garza, Dolores G. Reyna, for which he has been blessed with 13 grandchildren, 7 great grandchildren, and a great-great grandchild.
Tony Guerrero was preceded in death by his parents Othon Guerrero Sr, and Manuala S. Guerrero; brothers Fernando (Fay) Guerrero, Arnoldo Guerrero, and Joaquin “Jake” Guerrero,sisters Teresa Frías (Juan), Romanita”Mona” Van Wyke (Arthur), Tomasa Guerrero, Julie Lawson, Hilda Guajardo (Jerry),and granddaughter Monica Marie Villarreal.
Oton “Tony”Guerrero is survived by his wife Emma (Cabaza) Guerrero, his children Yolanda (Dr. Tony) Villarreal, Oton Joaquin (Zelda) Guerrero, Sonya (Gilbert) Garza, Dora (Robert) Espinoza, Sara (Armando) Garza, Dolores (Ricardo) Reyna, sisters Gloria Frazier, Oralia “Mary” Chemin, Sister-In-Laws Anna Guerrero, and Arlene Guerrero,
grandchildren Denise Villarreal, Amanda Salvo, Dr. Judith Guerrero, Emily Guerrero, Gilbert Garza Jr., Dr. Sarah Wilkinson, Dr. David Espinoza, Javier Garza, Joel Garza, Melissa Reyna, Sonya Reyna, Ricardo J. Reyna Jr., great-grandchildren Krystin Garza, Karina Garza, Mia Garza, Luke W. Wilkinson, Emma V. Wilkinson, Remi Lynn Reyna, Ricky Jay Reyna, great-great granddaughter Kayla Garza, and numerous nieces and nephews. All of these he loved and touched deeply.
Visitation will be held on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, from 7-9pm with a 7:30pm rosary at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Mission. A funeral mass will be held on Thursday, January 7, 2021 at 8:30am at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Mission. Burial will follow at Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery in Mission.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to the Knights of Columbus Council #2698, St. Paul’s Catholic Church.
Funeral Arrangements have been entrusted to Ric Brown Funeral Home in Mission, Texas