Jose Maria “Pepe” Vela – Alice Echo News Journal


Jose Maria “Pepe” Vela was born in Alice, Texas on March 10, 1922 to John H. Vela and Zoila Salazar. As a child, he grew up in Alice. He had a younger sister, Corinne. When he was eight, the family moved to Falfurrias, Texas, where his parents worked as educators at Lasater Ranch. Several years later the family moved back to Alice where Jose continued his education. He graduated from Alice High School in 1940. In the early 1940s he worked as an auto mechanic’s helper. In 1942, he enlisted in the US Army Air Force and worked as an aircraft mechanic. Jose was honorably discharged in 1945 at the end of World War II. Jose was awarded the US Defense Ribbon, US Theater Medal, Good Conduct Medal, and Victory Medal. After serving his country, Jose attended Texas A&I University in Kingsville, Texas, where he received his Bachelor of Education. He began his teaching career in Hebbronville, Texas, and after a few years returned to Alice. There he meets the love of his life Emma Gonzalez. After a brief courtship, they married on July 28, 1957. They had two sons, John Alexander and Jose Humberto. During his free summers, Jose worked with his father as a cotton seller. Jose’s teaching career spanned over thirty-five years. After his retirement, he continued to be involved in school activities, such as a ticket collector at local school football and basketball games. Jose also participated in local elections as an electoral secretary. He started raising cattle in 1985. During his retirement, he and his wife Emma enjoyed traveling across the United States to various casinos. Most places they visited included Las Vegas, Reno, Laughlin, Lake Tahoe, Coushatta, Kickapoo, and Tunica. Jose was a simple man with a lot of patience. His motto was “Don’t worry about it!”. This was perhaps the key to his long and fruitful life.

He is predeceased by his parents, his sister Corinne Vela Pennock and his son Jose Humberto Vela.

Left behind to cherish his memory are his wife, Emma, ​​his son John (Veronica) Vela, his granddaughter Roxanne (Bryan) Gutierrez, his grandson John Jr. (Irene) Vela and his great-grandchildren , Kayli, Aaliah, Ryann Joy and Liam Alexander, nephew and niece, Steven (Charlotte) Pennock, Diane (James) Ham, sisters-in-law Herlinda (Samuel) Deanda, Dalia Gonzalez and Lydia Gonzalez, as well as numerous nieces, nephews and friends and her caregiver Mari Carmen Tellez.

The family will receive relatives and friends at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday August 25, 2022 at Rosas Funeral Home. A Holy Rosary will be recited at 7:00 p.m. Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, August 26, 2022, at St. Joseph Catholic Church. Interment will follow at Lara Cemetery.


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