DR. JOSÉ ROBERTO (BETO) JUÁREZ, SR.
DECEMBER 18, 1934 - SEPTEMBER 13, 2019
Dr. José Roberto (Beto) Juárez, Sr. passed away in his home, surrounded by his loving family on September 13, 2019. Born in Laredo, Texas on December 18, 1934, he was a kind, loving, and devoted son, brother, husband, and father. Beto was a teacher, historian, scholar, genealogist, and passionate advocate for social justice, including advocating for civil rights, gender equality, and the rights of farmworkers. He was a devoted Roman Catholic who practiced in actions, and modeled for his family, the teachings of Christ, especially the beatitudes. He was an active member of San Martin de Porres Church, where he further served God in many ways, including as a reader and religious educator. He and his wife, Toni, instilled in his children the importance of education and made many sacrifices to help all six of their children graduate from college. He loved music and dancing with Toni and shared those loves regularly with his family and friends. Despite being very active in church and in the community, Beto and Toni always found time to visit and care for their adult children and their grandchildren, and to help them when they most needed them. He traveled with Toni throughout Mexico, Latin America, and Europe and loved to spend time in his mother’s home and hometown of Bustamante, Nuevo León, Mexico.
At an early age, Beto helped at his father’s business, Casa Juárez. He attended St. Augustine High School where he met his wife and love of his life, played piano during mass, formed life-long friendships, and graduated as valedictorian. He graduated from St. Edward’s University with a Bachelor of Arts degree, and from the University of Texas at Austin with a Master’s and Ph.D. in Latin American history, all while raising six children! He began his teaching career as a history professor at St. Ed’s and there formed life-long friendships with his St. Ed’s “family.” He later served as a member of the Board of Trustees of St. Ed’s. He was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and a Fulbright Scholar. He specialized in the history of the Catholic Church in South Texas and Mexico. He lived with his family for several years in Guadalajara and Mexico City while conducting research in Mexican archives. In 1970 he began teaching at the University of California at Davis, where he achieved numerous firsts, including serving as one of the first Mexican-American professors, becoming the first Mexican-American Chair of the History Department, and teaching some of the first university-level courses in Mexican-American history. Beto returned to Laredo in 1975, first as Academic Dean, and then as the Vice-President for Academic Affairs of Laredo Junior College (today, Laredo College). Returning allowed him and Toni to fulfill their desire to spend time with and care for their parents. In his later career, he taught history at Texas A&M International University.
Beto authored articles on Latin American and Mexican American history, and, after retiring from TAMIU, he completed a book on the history of the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Guadalajara. A proud descendant of early residents of Laredo and of the founders of numerous cities and towns in South Texas and northern Mexico, Beto created an extensive genealogy of his family and of Toni’s family, and wrote a history of the family’s ranch. He helped found, and was an active member and officer in the Villa San Agustín de Laredo Genealogical Society. He researched the history of the Catholic Church for the Laredo Diocese and published articles on Laredo and Catholic history in local media. He was an active member of the Webb County Heritage Foundation, and was honored by that organization as President of the Republic of the Río Grande. He was also President of the Texas Catholic Historical Society and an active member of the Texas State Historical Association.
Beto was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease soon after his wife passed away unexpectedly seven years ago. Although he lost some of his memory, his happy, kind, humble, gentlemanly, and generous spirit remained and was even amplified. His family is forever grateful to the staff at Casa de Misericordia and the Laredo Food Bank who allowed him to remain active during those years as a volunteer, and to the many people at North Central Park and Mall del Norte who greeted him and treated him with much dignity during his daily walks.
Beto was born in Laredo, Texas to Manuel Jesús Juárez, Sr. and María Juana (Juanita) de León de Juárez. His wife, María Antonia (Toni) Martínez Juárez predeceased him. They were married for 56 years. He is survived by his siblings, Manuel Jesús (Chuy) Juárez (Josie Martínez Juárez) and Patricia (Pati) Olga Juárez Vela. He is also survived by his six children and their families: José Roberto Juárez, Jr. (Lorene Martínez Juárez) and their children, Marisa Celia Juárez (Justy Burdick), José Roberto (Beto) Juárez, III, and Marco Andrés Juárez; Ana María Juárez (José Paredes) and daughter, Risa Antonia Paredes; Manuel (Meme) Enrique Juárez (Mary Sue Galindo) and their children, Juanita Andrea Juárez, Marcella Inez Juárez, and Manuel (Meme) Enrique Juárez, Jr.; Gloria Alma Juárez (David Barrera); Laura Margarita Juárez de Ku (James Ku) and their children, Patricio Gabriel Ku and Daniel Tomás Ku; and David Tomás Juárez, Sr. (Marvelia Mendoza Juárez) and their children, David Tomás Juárez, Jr., and Pablo Alejandro Juárez. He is also survived by one great-grandchild, Sofía Antonia Burdick.
Visitation will be held Friday, September 20, 2019 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. (rosary at 7 p.m.) at Joe Jackson North Funeral Chapels, 1410 Jacaman Road, Laredo, TX 78041.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 9 a.m. Saturday, September 21, 2019 at San Martín de Porres Catholic Church, 1704 Sandman St., Laredo, TX 78041. We invite you to meet us at the church since there will be no procession from the funeral home. Internment will follow at Calvary Catholic Cemetery, 3600 McPherson Road, Laredo, TX 78041.
Pallbearers will be Beto Juárez, III; Patricio Ku; Daniel Ku; David Juárez, Jr.; Pablo Juárez; Marco Juárez; and Meme Juárez, Jr. Honorary pallbearers are Lorene Juárez, José Paredes, Mary Galindo, David Barrera, James Ku, Marvelia Juárez, Marisa Juárez, Justy Burdick, Andrea Juárez, Marcella Juárez, and Risa Paredes Juárez.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to any of the following organizations: Casa de Misericordia, Laredo Food Bank, Bethany House, and the San Antonio & South Texas National Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.
The Juárez family wishes to thank the caregivers who cared for Beto during his years with Alzheimer’s, especially María, Leticia, and Mari. The family also thanks Dr. Luis Benavides, M.D.; Nurses on Wheels; Dr. Rolando Guerra, D.D.S.; Monsignor Alex Salazar; Raúl Paredes, RN; the hair stylists at Heavenly Hair Salon; and his friends at Mall del Norte, including H.R. Crouch, Jesús Peña, and Irma Ramírez.
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