Efren Sandoval Villanueva, 82, of Abilene, went to be with our Lord on Wednesday, August 14, 2019.
Visitation will be on Sunday, August 18 at 6:00 p.m. followed by a prayer service at 7:00 p.m. at Elmwood Funeral Home, 5750 Hwy 277 South. A funeral mass will be 9:30 a.m. Monday, August 19, 2019 at St. Vincent Pallotti Catholic Church, 2525 Westview Drive. Interment will follow the service in Elmwood Memorial Park.
Efren was born March 17, 1937 in San Antonio de la Cascada, San Buenaventura, Coahuila, Mexico to Octaviano and Maria Isabel (Sandoval) Villanueva. In 1971 he married Margaret Chia. Efren co-operated a panaderia (bakery), was a music promoter, and a long-time employee for Paymasters Oil Refinery. He was also employed by Mr. Royce Peters of Royce Electric Company for over 35 years.
At age 14, he came to Texas and soon experienced the struggles of an immigrant. In times of trouble, he’d turn to the champion of the Indian, La Virgin de Guadalupe. Like flowers bursting through the earth seeking sunlight, Efren relied on the Virgin for nourishment, acceptance and guidance.
Efren was 48% Native-American. He was a strong advocate of immigrant rights and supported Lady Liberty’s credo of “helping the tired, poor, and huddled masses yearning to be free”. He learned to read, write, and became a citizen early in his life. He encouraged his children to embrace, honor and serve this great nation. Thus, six of his children served the country honorably. There were many family conversations about politics and he always impressed the importance of participating in the political process. He was a founding member of LULAC Council No: 605 and later served as President of the organization. Efren was a member of the Knights of Columbus Council 10181 at St. Joan of Arc in San Antonio.
He understood the difficulties of people and never hesitated to provide advocacy for them. He proudly taught his children about Mexican culture and to never forget that our ancestors were the original inhabitants of this land. For most of his life he maintained two jobs and along with many other hard-working migrators, help build landmarks throughout the city.
The legacy that he leaves his family is the importance of dignity, respect, honor, and education. While he believed in praising effort and commitment; education he would often say is the ultimate equalizer, and the surest path out of poverty. Efren’s commitment to education has been passed down to his grandchildren. His proudest memory was that 2 of his grandchildren obtained an associate degree, 20 have bachelor’s degrees, 10 have master’s degrees, 2 have a PhD and 1 has a law degree. His children are thankful that when God was handing out dads, He saved the best for them!
Efren is survived by his wife of 47 years, Margaret Chia Villanueva, his children: Juanita Garcia, Andres Gamon, Lydia Molina (Ben), Gloria Gamon, Reynaldo Villanueva (Maria), Efren Villanueva Jr. (Lucy), Octaviano Villanueva (Diana), Antonio Villanueva (Sylvia), Mary Jane Garcia, Irene Tonche (Joe), and Carlos Villanueva (Erica); siblings, Inocencio Villanueva, Maria Sanchez (Leobardo) and Concepcion Cardenas (Alberto), 22 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. He was devoted to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Efren was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Refugio & Jose, sister Guadalupe Mata, daughter Maria Ernestina Allen, and grandsons Ben (Trey) Molina III, Ezra Zayden Villanueva and Michael Rangel Gamon.
Pallbearers for the service will be: Rey Villanueva, Efren Villanueva, Octaviano Villanueva, Antonio Villanueva , Carlos Villanueva, and Adam Cisneros.
Honorary Pallbearer: Andres Gamon
A huge “Thank You” to Hendricks Hospice Center for the loving care they provided to our father.