JUAN JORGE “JJ” RODRIGUEZ
June 24, 1943- March 12, 2021
JJ Rodriguez, 77, lifelong superstar overachieving educator, legendary Nixon Mustang administrator, fierce education advocate, knowledgeable historian, celebrity community leader, one-time outlaw street racer, sharp dressed boot wearer, avid outdoorsman, skillful hunter and fisherman, shooting specialist, accomplished traveler, gifted writer, talented orator, passionate storyteller, consummate jokester, kind gentlemen and loving son, husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, brother, cousin and friend peacefully joined our Lord in his sleep waking up in heaven on Friday, March 12, 2021.
JJ’s father, Severo, was a EAME Campaign Medal with 6 bronze stars decorated WWII war hero who fought for his country at Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland and in the Ardennes and many other parts of the European Theater. His mother was a Rita Hayworth looking beauty, which both combined to make an outstandingly beautiful child named Juan Jorge.
JJ graduated from Martin High School where he met his sweetheart, future wife, and all-around partner, Chacha. While in high school he “occasionally” raced his car down San Bernando (the statute of limitations on any past due speeding tickets has long since passed). Many considered him a ladies’ man - men wanted to be him, and women wanted to be with him.
JJ knew he had to get an education, so he went to work as a steel welder 40 stories high on Chicago’s skyscrapers. His proficiencies in reading blueprints propelled him to supervisor. Once he earned enough for college he returned home and earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree and a Master’s in Education from Texas A & I University, where he was the President of the Texas A & I Laredo Club.
JJ started his teaching career at Lamar Middle School, where he found his place teaching the lessons of history to our cities’ youth. He quickly climbed the ranks at LISD where he was eventually promoted to Vice-Principal at Nixon High School.
It was at Nixon High School where his sharp wit and inveterate humor made him a Rockstar with the students and faculty. He had the unenviable assignment of being responsible for student discipline. In this role, he was serious when necessary, cut breaks to students when discretion dictated, and exercised his authority with love and kindness.
At Nixon High School he educated roughly 1/3 of Laredo’s now adult population. His pupils have gone forth to become doctors, lawyers, politicians, engineers, architects, and many other professionals and citizens who are now thriving and productive members of our community.
At Nixon High School, he was the Faculty Advisor for the History and Civics Club, and one of the favorite administrators among all the sport teams. He rarely missed any games, regardless of the sport. He attended everything from UIL to women’s basketball to varsity football games, where his tall statue of David like persona could be seen running up and down the sidelines.
JJ’s extraordinary work ethic and community service made him a community hero. While working at Nixon, he was also the director of the Youth Development Program and director of the Community Action Agency. He was a member of LULAC 12 and a strong supporter of the Laredo Boys and Girls Club.
JJ was a tireless collaborator with Father Charles McNaboe in founding St. John Neumann Church, with services first given at Clark Middle School, then Fr. McNaboe’s home, then Mall del Norte, and finally to where the church sits today on Hillside Rd. JJ was the director of the CCD program with multiple classes being conducted at the then UA Cinema at the Mall.
JJ had many friends and hunting partners – too many to list here because he never met a stranger. He loved the outdoors, classic cars, fast motorcycles, firearms, and a good pair of boots. He loved a good story and funny jokes. Most of all he loved God and his family. JJ could talk about anything – history, sports, politics, government, law, medicine, cars, engineering, construction, and life.
JJ and his only child Ron were tight. They enjoyed the most special relationship. Always hunting and fishing partners and sometime debate adversaries. They were father and son, brothers, and buddies – all at the same time. Ron was his favorite, that was until his grandchildren were born. His love for his daughter-in-law Mari was uncompromising. His kindness and love for his grandson Ron C., Athena Adair and Angelina Meli was relentless. He was able to live years with Ron and Mari, and his grandchildren, at their estate home, enjoying cruises, the beach, traveling, swimming, cookouts, car racing, birthday parties, holidays, and shared great company together.
JJ always told his son Ron that if anyone asks about him, tell them “JJ is still around.” Well, for those who were fortunate to know him, “JJ is still around and always will be” – in our hearts, minds, and souls and in the beautiful memories he left us. Rest in Peace, JJ.
JJ was preceded in death by his beloved wife Maria de Jesus “Chacha” Rodriguez, his parents Severo and Maria Elizabeth Rodriguez and nephew Elliott N. Henkels.
Left to cherish his memory are his son Ronald “Ron” (Maria Elva “Mari”) Rodriguez; grandchildren, Ronald C. Rodriguez, Athena Adair Rodriguez, Angelina Meli Rodriguez; siblings, Elizabeth Henkels (†Larry), Carlos Rodriguez, and Ruby Rodriguez; nephew Ryan Rodriguez; niece Gina Henkels, grand- nephew Pierce Weaver as well as numerous relatives and friends.
Visitation will be held on Friday, March 19, 2021 from 9:30 to 10:30 am at St. Patrick Catholic Church, where a Vigil for the Deceased and Rosary will commence at 10:30 am followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 am. Rite of Committal and Interment will follow at the Calvary Catholic Cemetery.
Pallbearers will be Ronald C. Rodriguez, Homero Paez, Jr., Homero Paez, III, Lazaro Paez, Gilbert Moreno, Robert Villarreal Utterback, Humberto Trevino, and Alejandro Castro.
Honorary Pallbearers will be Carlos Rodriguez, Gilbert Villarreal Utterback, Jesus Martinez, and Julio Mendez.
The family would like to extend their most heartfelt gratitude to all who knew JJ and showed him kindness, and to those who were blessed to know him and call him a friend.
You may express your condolences, share your favorite memories, and sign the guestbook online at: www.joejacksonfuneralchapels.com.
Arrangements have been entrusted to the care and direction of the funeral service professionals at Joe Jackson North Funeral Chapels & Cremation Services, 1410 Jacaman Rd., Laredo, Texas 78041; (956)722-8850.