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Saturday, July 22, 2023
2:00 - 3:00pm (Central time)
Roberto Morales Villarreal passed away on July 16, 2023, at the age of 84. He was the eldest of eight, born to Simon and Delfina Villarreal on February 21, 1939, in Sarita, Texas. He graduated as valedictorian of his high school and went on to earn a B.S. in Physics and two master's degrees (Nuclear Physics and History) from Texas A&I University, Kingsville. He worked as an aerospace engineer for NASA at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama and at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Inspired toward social activism from an early age and galvanized by the deaths of the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King, Jr., he left NASA to join in the Chicano civil rights movement and advocate for meaningful change in his own community.
The remainder of his career was dedicated to education, which he rightly recognized as a meaningful way of continuing his work in social justice. He served as Assistant Director of Migrant Education and, later, as Director of Funding and Compliance for 14 years at the Texas Education Agency. Following his time at TEA, he formed his own educational consulting firm, VAMOS, Inc., which helped school districts serve the needs of migrant and bilingual students. Roberto had a keen interest in Mexican American history, especially family history. He spent much of his life writing stories, researching historical incidents in South Texas, and interviewing his elders about the past. He was a prolific writer with endless projects and ideas for books. He could often be found writing away at his favorite restaurants.
Those fortunate enough to have known him will remember Roberto’s kindness and empathy, and his boundless energy for finding ways to be of service to others. He was a humble man and an eternal optimist who was able to focus on the positive even when facing life’s many hardships. He will be greatly missed and remembered with love and respect.
Roberto was preceded in death by his wife Gloria B. (Amaya) Villarreal, brother Roel Villarreal and sister Elia Villarreal. He is survived by his siblings Rodolfo, Raul, and Manuela Villarreal, Elma Lowe and Elvia Sloan; daughters Patricia Kading, Alicia Villarreal, Kathy Villarreal and Alejandra Villarreal Weiss; grandchildren Gloria Stewart, Tony Dale Kading, Maria Kading, Robert Vidal Kading, Annalisa Kading, Christopher Nicholas Villarreal-McCloskey, Camila Graciela Weiss and Luca Mateo Weiss; and former spouse Gay Callaway. He is also survived by 11 great-grandchildren, of whom he was so proud.
There will be a Holy Rosary Saturday, July 22, 2023, at Turcotte-Piper Mortuary at 2:00 pm.