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2023 Hispanic Heritage Month Awardees

**Elma Jaques Honored with the Carolina Angela de la Garza Dewitt Legend Award**

 

This prestigious accolade celebrates exceptional individuals of Hispanic heritage who have made profound contributions to the growth and cultural enrichment of San Angelo, Texas.

Elma Jaques, a native of San Angelo, has dedicated her life to advocacy, volunteerism, and community service. Her journey with the League of Latin American Citizens (LULAC) stands as a testament to her unwavering commitment. Serving as the President of the San Angelo Chapter and as District Director for an impressive 15 years, Elma traversed rural areas, offering crucial assistance to the Hispanic community.

Elma's introduction to LULAC in 1982 marked the beginning of her remarkable journey to help those in need. Through LULAC, she opened doors, empowered individuals to stand on their own, and facilitated their integration into the community. Elma's enduring passion lies in ensuring equal opportunities for all, exemplified by her favorite quote, "All for one and one for all," the LULAC slogan that she has embraced throughout her life.

Elma's personal journey is a testament to her determination. Leaving school at the end of 7th grade to support her single mother, she took on a job, earning $20 a week to contribute to their monthly $35 rent. Despite lacking a formal education, Elma held pivotal roles in her career, including positions at Berry's and Ethicon, where she excelled as a personnel administrator. Her dedication and drive were unwavering, enabling her to overcome educational barriers.

Elma, along with the late John Cedillo and Reverend Tomas Chavez, founded La Esperanza Clinic in response to the pressing healthcare needs of Hispanics in the barrio. Recognizing the absence of primary care physicians, the trio successfully lobbied for funding, secured grants, and established the clinic in 1994. Today, La Esperanza Clinic continues to provide healthcare to patients of all backgrounds, a testament to Elma's enduring commitment to the well-being of her community.

Elma's impact extends beyond healthcare. She played a pivotal role in chartering Habitat for Humanity in San Angelo alongside John Cedillo. Together, they built numerous homes, transcending racial boundaries to provide housing to those in need.

Throughout her life, Elma has been an active member of various organizations, including LULAC, the Republican Women, Chairperson for the March of Dimes, Civic Events Board, and serving as the designated agent with the Texas State Lottery Commission to qualify charities for donations. Her dedication has earned her recognition from several organizations, including The Tom Green County Action Council, the NAACP (San Angelo Branch), SAISD, Diocese of San Angelo, and La Esperanza Clinic. In 1982, LULAC honored her as Woman of the Year and LULACER of the year.

Reflecting on her journey, Elma acknowledges the progress made by women in various roles and the increasing visibility and respect for Hispanics in the workforce. She believes that "time has changed, and I love it," highlighting the positive transformations she has witnessed.

The Carolina Angela de la Garza Dewitt Legend Award, named in honor of the visionary wife of San Angelo's founder, recognizes individuals like Elma Jaques, who embody innovation, community dedication, and lasting positive influence. Her legacy continues to inspire and shape the identity of San Angelo, Texas.

**Ernest Perez Honored with the Carolina Angela de la Garza Dewitt Legend Award**

This distinguished accolade pays tribute to exceptional individuals of Hispanic heritage who have made enduring contributions to the development and cultural richness of San Angelo, Texas.

Ernest Perez's life journey embodies resilience, determination, and unwavering commitment to community and civic service. Over more than half a century, he has left an indelible mark on the people and institutions of San Angelo. Growing up in the post-World War II era amidst poverty and hardship, Ernest took on the role of family provider during his adolescent and teenage years, working tirelessly in various jobs to support his mother and siblings.

Despite facing adversity, Ernest was driven by a strong work ethic and a commitment to education. He worked his way through school, earning his high school diploma in 1956, a significant achievement considering the challenges he encountered along the way.

Ernest's experiences during his formative years instilled in him the fundamentals of leadership, management, supervision, and delegation of authority. At just 17 years old, he was overseeing a crew contracted to clear ranch land and driving a truck, reflecting his early leadership abilities.

His journey also exposed him to the racial order of the era, where he encountered racial prejudice and discrimination. However, Ernest recognized that not all Anglo Americans possessed racist sentiments, and he forged relationships with those who were considerate and willing to accept Hispanics as fellow citizens.

Ernest's professional career at Terrill Manufacturing Company from 1955 to 1996 was marked by exceptional achievements. Starting in the glue department, he advanced to the drafting office and became an estimator. His proficiency and business acumen earned him a place on the company's board of directors. He traveled extensively to negotiate contracts with companies across the United States, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. Ernest retired as Vice President of Sales at the age of 60.

In the 1960s, Ernest Perez became a well-known figure in San Angelo, dedicating himself to community and civic service. Throughout his career, he served on numerous local commissions, councils, and boards, contributing significantly to organizations like the Civil Service Commission, the San Angelo Planning Commission, the Cultural Affairs Council, and the Chamber of Commerce.

Ernest also played an active role in civic groups, clubs, and associations, supporting causes such as education through organizations like LULAC and the Pan American Golf Association (P.A.G.A.). His efforts helped raise thousands of dollars in scholarships for local graduates. He also contributed to the United Way, the Salvation Army, the San Angelo Symphony, and served as PTA president at Reagan Elementary School.

Politically engaged and a staunch advocate for education, Ernest Perez ran for the San Angelo ISD school board in 1972 and later campaigned for county commissioner in 1977. Despite facing setbacks, he continued to support fellow office seekers, both Hispanic and Anglo, believing in the power of collaboration.

Ernest Perez was not only a dedicated public servant but also a talented musician, sharing his music with passion. He was a member of Los Bohemios, a rondalla/mariachi ensemble, inspiring younger generations to embrace music and start their own mariachi bands.

Ernest Perez's enduring legacy as a community leader, advocate, and musician embodies the spirit of the Carolina Angela de la Garza Dewitt Legend Award. His contributions have shaped the fabric of San Angelo, Texas, and continue to inspire future generations.

**Tony Villarreal Honored with the Carolina Angela de la Garza Dewitt Legend Award**

This prestigious recognition pays tribute to an extraordinary individual of Hispanic heritage who has made significant contributions to the development and cultural richness of San Angelo, Texas.

Tony Villarreal's impressive journey encompasses more than two decades of service as a Risk Advisor, during which he has consistently demonstrated exceptional customer service. His commitment to delivering a remarkable experience for customers has earned him recognition, including an appearance in a nationwide commercial for the "State Farm Customer's Real Stories Series" in 2005.

Tony's dedication to community service began in his hometown of Rocksprings, Texas, where he worked in his family's Sheep Shearing and Fence-building operation. His passion for public service led him to serve on the City Council at the age of 19 and the Edwards County Commissioner's Court at age 21. In 1987, Tony moved to Fort Stockton, where he expanded his family's business and became deeply involved in local governance, serving on the School Board, Pecos County Commissioners Court, and as Fort Stockton Mayor from 2001 to 2005.

A pivotal moment in Tony's life occurred when he moved to San Angelo, Texas, becoming a State Farm Agent and continuing his mission to serve the community. Tony and his wife, Lisa Villarreal, have shared 45 years of marriage and have cherished moments with their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Outside of work, Tony enjoys family vacations and his favorite pastime, golf, with the mantra that he "never leaves home without his golf clubs."

Tony Villarreal's commitment to San Angelo extends beyond his career, as evidenced by his active involvement in numerous organizations and boards, including the Minority Alliance Network Organization, ADACCV, West Texas CREO, Southside Lions, Economic Development Board, Public Housing Chairman, ASU Athletics, Chamber of Commerce, American GI Forum, and Knights of Columbus. His support for various fundraisers and community initiatives further underscores his dedication to making a positive impact.

The Carolina Angela de la Garza Dewitt Legend Award, named after the visionary wife of the city's founder, honors individuals like Tony Villarreal who exemplify innovation, community dedication, and lasting positive influence. Tony's legacy mirrors that of a true legend, whose spirit continues to shape and inspire the identity of our beloved city.

**Gustavo Manuel Campos Receives Captain Albert Tijerina Jr. Trailblazer Award**

This esteemed accolade is dedicated to honoring the outstanding contributions of a rising Hispanic individual who is making a significant impact on the fabric of San Angelo, Texas.

Gustavo's journey is marked by a profound commitment to community service and a dedication to creating positive change. Following his graduation from Angelo State University's Graduate School, he assumed the role of Program Director for Galilee Community Development Corporation, which provides affordable housing to low to moderate-income families in San Angelo.

In 2012, Gustavo joined Angelo State University as the Assistant HSI (Hispanic Serving Institute) Coordinator, later becoming a full-time Political Science Instructor in 2013. His unwavering dedication to education led to a promotion to Senior Instructor in 2022. He now not only imparts knowledge to Angelo State students but also extends his teaching to Lake View High School seniors through a Dual Credit partnership, providing students with valuable college credit opportunities.

Gustavo's commitment extends beyond the classroom. In 2023, he became a participant in the C.R.A.S.H. program (Culturally Responsive Approaches to Serving Hispanic Students) at ASU, demonstrating his dedication to student-centered approaches.

As a seasoned musician and singer in San Angelo for over two decades, Gustavo has used his talents to support various nonprofit organizations, student groups, and vulnerable populations. He has also been an ardent booster and fundraiser for the Angelo State Baseball program, notably hosting the annual "Manny's Birthday Bash" fundraiser for the past 15 years, benefiting multiple community nonprofits.

Gustavo's community impact has been widely recognized. He was named "20 under 40" by the San Angelo Standard-Times in 2016 and earned the title of Advisor of the Year in 2022. His service on the Galilee Community Development Board for six years exemplifies his unwavering commitment to the betterment of his community.

The Captain Albert Tijerina Jr. Trailblazer Award is a tribute to individuals like Gustavo Manuel Campos who embody courage, dedication, and a pioneering spirit. His exemplary contributions to San Angelo, Texas, reflect the very essence of this distinguished honor.

**Dorothy Borden Honored with the Eva Camunez Tucker Service Award

for Dedication to Hispanic Heritage**

This distinguished accolade is dedicated to recognizing the remarkable volunteerism of a Hispanic individual within the San Angelo Hispanic Heritage Museum, whose efforts stand as a beacon of commitment to honoring and preserving the rich Hispanic culture in our beloved San Angelo, Texas.

Dorothy Borden's journey with the San Angelo Hispanic Heritage Museum began in 2021 when she joined the Dia de los Muertos committee. From the outset, Dorothy's dedication and enthusiasm were unparalleled. She went above and beyond to promote and preserve Hispanic culture, crafting intricate decorations for our Dia de los Muertos celebration and volunteering tirelessly with her daughter to ensure the Riverstage was set up to perfection.

In 2022, Dorothy further solidified her commitment by joining the SAHHM board of directors. Currently serving as the River Stage coordinator for the Dia de los Muertos Celebration, she played a pivotal role in creating Dia de los Muertos parade floats in 2023 for both the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo parade and the Juneteenth parade. Notably, the float for the San Angelo Stock Show and Rodeo Parade was awarded 2nd Place Float Non-Commercial.

Dorothy's unwavering dedication to our community and her profound pride in Hispanic culture embody the spirit of the Eva Camunez Tucker Service Award. Through her actions, she continues to illuminate and celebrate the Hispanic heritage that is such an integral part of our city's identity.

The San Angelo Hispanic Heritage Museum congratulates Dorothy Borden on this well-deserved honor and thanks her for her outstanding contributions to our community.

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