By Frances Puente
Special to the Journal
Celia Mendoza, former longtime resident of Lazbuddie passed away this summer at the age of 89. She was laid to rest together with her husband’s urn and ashes. They had been married for 65 years and, even in death, they were inseparable as they were laid to rest together. Now, they are happily reunited in Heaven forevermore. Both, Celia Mendoza and Pablo Mendoza, Sr., were former employees of the Lazbuddie School District for many years.
The Rev. Joe Puente conducted the memorial service and preached on The Attributes of a Noble Wife in Proverbs 31:10-30. The Rev. Roy Puente gave a testimonial, played the guitar, and sang several songs in their honor. The Puente brothers are the sons of the late Rev. Roque and Juanita Puente of Muleshoe, Texas. Grandson Dr. Jason Mendoza gave the Eulogy and grandson Dr. Gabriel Mendoza read a poem in their honor. Daughter Marissa Maria Teijo presented touching memories.
Pablo and Celia immigrated to the United States and became U.S. citizens. They knew at a very young age, living on a family ranch outside San Luis, Potosi, Mexico, that they wanted a better life for the family they were planning. When they eventually moved to Lazbuddie, the Puente family invited them to their church in Muleshoe, Texas, where they became members. Rev. Roque and Juanita Puente and family helped them assimilate into the Muleshoe and Lazbuddie communities.
Even though Pablo Sr. and Celia had no formal education, their children and grandchildren have become successful business people, doctors, engineers, scientists and educators. Their children all agree that even though their parents could not help them from an academic standpoint, they always encouraged them to study and do their their best in school. Their son, Pablo Jr., said, “Even though our parents could not help us academically, they were always very supportive, encouraging, and involved in all aspects of our education and lives. They bought us a complete set of encyclopedias and even a typewriter to help us with our school work and taught us the value of hard work and determination. Most importantly, we had teachers in the Lazbuddie School District who were very kind, caring and helpful. Our Superintendent, Sam P. Barnes, took us into his office on more than one occasion and enlightened us as to the many college opportunities available. Fred Wilbanks, our principal, also filled that academic void that we were missing at home. Quinn Weaver, who I worked for on his farm and ranch was almost like a second father to me. He taught me so much about farming and ranching and his sound advice about continuing my education resonated with me forever. He would even take me to the dentist in a surrounding town to get my braces adjusted because my parents were so busy working long hours. To this day, I honor his memory and others who helped us so much in this community.”
Eldest daughter, Marissa Maria added, “Our parents always encouraged us to study, to go to college, and to reach for the stars.” Marissa is now retired from teaching and travels frequently to South America, Hawaii and Europe with her husband, Daniel, a medical engineer. Marissa’s son, Sergio, is a successful businessman in Hawaii and her daughter, Layla, is a benefits administrator with the public schools.
Celia’s and Pablo’s son, Pablo Jr., recently retired as a Director of Biomedical Research, but is still a fulltime tenured professor of the medical sciences. He is married to Merced Puente, formerly of Muleshoe, Texas. Merced is retired from teaching and travels frequently with her husband.
Three of Celia’s and Pablo’s grandchildren, Jason, Priscilla and Gabriel, were very successful researchers in science fairs at the regional, state and international level while in high school and, as a result, The Linear Program of MIT Lincoln Laboratory named a minor planet for each of them in their honor. Very few people in the world have received this honor. Pablo Jr.’s oldest son, Jason, graduated from MIT and from The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. Jason’s wife, Maribel, also graduated from MIT with a degree in chemical engineering. Pablo Jr.’s daughter, Priscilla, graduated from Notre Dame and studied in Vienna, Austria. His youngest son, Gabriel, is a National Merit Scholar who graduated from CalTech in Pasadena, California and received his doctorate in quantum physics from Bristol University in England. He conducted graduate research at Harvard and Oxford Universities.
Celia and Pablo Sr. often mentioned that it was their dream, the American Dream, of two uneducated immigrants with very humble beginnings that came to be realized not just through hard work and determination, but because of God’s grace and guidance and numerous very kind, caring and helpful people in the Lazbuddie and Muleshoe communities. The Mendoza family gives thanks to God and the numerous very kind, caring, and helpful people of these two communities.