In Memorium: Mary Medellin Juarez

Mary Medellin Juarez
Age 72, passed away Wednesday February 27, 2008 at the Joliet Area Community Hospice Home, surrounded by her family. Born in Cometa, TX on June 25, 1935, raised in Crystal City, TX. A retired grade school teacher after 35 years of service.

Mary received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1958 and her Masters in Education, graduating with honors, in 1961 from Southwest Texas State Teachers College, currently known as Texas State University-San Marcos.

She taught at Parks School for over 20 years and finished her career at Marycrest School both in Joliet, IL. A pioneer in the creation of the Bilingual Education program in the Joliet Public Schools. Also spending several summers teaching area migrant farm workers’ children and taught English to adults and children in the evening at Lincoln School. A recipient of the Joliet Jaycees Outstanding Young Educator award in 1971. A 25 year member of the PTA.

A 30 year member of the League of United Latin American Citizens (L.U.L.A.C.). Co-founder of LULAC-Council 502. Winner of their Felix Tijerina Teacher Excellence Award and held various state and local offices of L.U.L.A.C. Co-founder and 20-year Board Member of Mount Carmel Credit Union. Served on the first Board of Directors of Villa Seca Day Care Center and SER Jobs for Progress. She stressed the importance of education to all regardless of economic status or social background.

Preceded in death by her parents Manuel and Antonia (nee Reyes) Medellin; in-laws Ascencion and Julia (nee Tristan) Juarez; brothers Olegario (late Josefina), Anastacio (Florencia) & Joaquin (Olivia); sister Concepcion (late Gilbert) Garcia; brothers-in-law Aurelio, Roberto and Sgt. Mateo Juarez, killed in action, Vietnam.

Mary is survived by her husband of 45 ½ years, Manuel; 3 children Maria Juarez (Greg) Mendoza, Antonio Juarez (Helen nee Rangel) and Rosa Juarez; 4 grandchildren Manuel Mendoza, Angelica, Jesse and A.J. Juarez; 1 great granddaughter, Nicolette Rose Juarez and 2 great grandchildren on the way; 2 brothers, Manuel (Beatrice) Medellin and Manuel (Regina) Cerna; brother-in-law Mauricio Juarez; sisters-in-law Victoria (late Luther) Sowards, Teresa (late John) Ortiz, Gloria (late Ysidro) Garcia, Mary (late Juan Muñoz), Frances and Annie Juarez, Florencia and Olivia Medellin. Special friends: Dolores Rodriguez, Elena Acosta, Teresa Lopez, Juanita Verdin and Sylvia Gomez. Godchildren: Lawrence Sowards, Anastacio Medellin, Jr., Diana Garcia, Erica Marmolejo and Perry Clark. Also numerous nieces, nephews, and her beloved pet Petunia.

Special thanks to Fr. Jose Cilia, O. Carm, for your daily visits, love and prayers throughout her illness. Contributions in her memory can be made to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church Building fund and Joliet Area Community Hospice. Pallbearers: Matthew Muñoz, Armando Flores, Manuel Mendoza, Jesse, A.J., Mark, Adam and Antonio Juarez.

Funeral arrangements in care of:
DELGADO FUNERAL CHAPEL 400 Landau Ave. at Jackson St., Joliet, Il. 60432 (815) 774-9220. Visitation & DVD Memorial: at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church, 205 East Jackson St. Joliet, IL. 60432 Monday March 3, 2008 2 – 8 PM (NOT AT FUNERAL CHAPEL). SERVICES: A Mass of Christian burial will be Tuesday March 4, 2008 at 10:00 AM. BURIAL: Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery Elwood, Illinois.

DC’s Note: I was saddened with the news of the passing of my aunt and Godmother Maria (Mary) T. Medellin Juarez last week in Joliet, IL. My Madrina Mary was a retired educator, longtime LULAC member, and a devout Catholic–good Democrat, too!

My Madrina was a studious individual growing up. Upon earning the rank of Valedictorian of Crystal City High School, she was “moved down” to Salutatorian so that a not so Mexicana student would give the Valedictory speech (she was given a small medal for her academic accomplishments, though, as a consolation prize). Not allowing that to bring her down, she continued on to Southwest Texas State University where she would earn undergraduate and graduate degrees. It can be said that she was a role-model for young men and women. She was a community leader and a champion for equality in education. Given her treatment by school administrators in her youth, she turned the feelings she had into a lifetime of helping produce good citizens, as well as fighting for social justice as a member of LULAC, and as a member of her Church.

After 35 years in the classroom, my Madrina and Padrino enjoyed a long and fun retirement. Often, they would visit Texas, with a few trips into Mexico. Of course, my most memorable visit was in Summer 2004. They had visited San Marcos, and we all met in Luling for some BBQ and memories.

Unfortunately, my Madrina suffered through her latest years with diabetes and the effects of a stroke. Even after her speech and walking abilities were affected, she pressed on, enjoying her retirement years and traveling. It was during the last year that she began to experience other effects, and now, she has gone to rest. Done is her suffering; however, she will be greatly missed by her family and friends.

Rest in peace, Madrina.

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