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Obituary – William “Billy” Leo
LA JOYA – William “Billy” Leo, a public servant, small business owner and proud resident of La Joya, TX, passed into eternal life on March 17, 2018 at the age of 70 in La Joya, TX.
Billy, known as Mr. Democrat, is survived by his wife, Dr. Filomena Leo; his daughter and son-in-law, Noralisa Leo and Eduardo Herranz of Arlington, VA, his son Michael Leo of Palmview, TX, his daughter Lita Leo of La Joya, TX, his son and daughter-in-law Billy Leo Jr. & Anne Leo of Cedar Park, TX, and daughter Letty Leo of Cedar Park, TX; 5 grandchildren; He is also survived by brothers James Leo (Lydia) of Mission, TX; Henry Leo of La Joya, TX; Leo J. Leo Jr. (Martha) of Mission, TX; sister Nellie Leo of La Joya, TX. He is predeceased by his parents: Leo James Leo & Feliz Leo, and nephew Kenneth James Leo.
Billy was born in Laredo, TX on May 24, 1947. He graduated from Texas A&I Kingsville in 1960 with a degree in Political Science and served as County Clerk for Hidalgo County, Mayor of La Joya, and School Board Trustee for the La Joya ISD. He was the owner of Leo’s Food Mart convenient store chains in the greater La Joya area. His father, Leo J Leo, was a prominent political leader having served as the first mayor of a re incorporated city of La Joya, and early pioneer of worker rights having marched with Cesar Chavez to fight for the Hispanic field workers of the Rio Grande Valley. With Leo’s passing in June of 1981, the torch passed to Billy Leo who continued the fight by galvanizing the people of Western Hidalgo County as a unified political voice and rose to prominence in the local Democratic party. He began in the La Joya ISD serving on the district’s school board from 1974-1981, and as President in 1975 and 1979. Following in his father’s footsteps he went on to serve as Mayor for the City of La Joya from 1981-1986 and again from 2003-2011. He expanded his service to the entire county serving as Hidalgo County Clerk from 1986 to 1994. His convenient store served as a political hub where he held local party meetings and became a must stop for political leaders from across the state looking to secure the bloc of people organized by Billy Leo having attracted notable leaders such as Robert Kennedy Jr, Bill Clinton and the location from where Ann Richards announced her candidacy for Governor. It was once dubbed by Hillary Clinton as Billy Leo country. He continued his message on the national platform having served as a delegate to the Democratic National Committee from 1988 to 1996.
His service to his city and the people will be missed. He once said, “I worked hard and cared for my city. That’s all I want to be remembered for. I was here and I think this is the best city there is.”
Viewing will be from 1PM-9PM and the rosary will be at 7PM on Monday, March 19, 2018 at the Mission Community Center – 1420 E Kika De La Garza Loop, Mission. Funeral mass is scheduled for 11AM Tuesday, March 20, 2018 at Our Lady Queen of Angels church in La Joya. Interment will follow at 1PM at Rio Grande Valley State Veterans Cemetery in Mission. All services are under the direction of Ric Brown Family Funeral Home of Mission.