Mission museum honors Wall of Fame inductees

From a man that makes the news to the man that reports the news, with businessmen and volunteers in between, Mission residents with decades of service to the community were honored last week.

Six honorees were recognized by the Mission Historical Museum as the 2014 Wall of Fame inductees at a banquet Sept. 18. Honorees were Jim Brunson, publisher of the Progress Times; Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa; Don Riter Lester, chair of barbecue at the Texas Citrus Fiesta since 1995; Blanca Vazquez Marroquin, longtime volunteer for the Texas Citrus Fiesta and the museum; Amador and Alicia Esqueda Requenez, owners of Valley Welding Services.

20140918-Mission-Historical-Museum-Banquet dy-072To qualify, honorees must have lived in or worked in the community for 30 years or more. Proceeds from the awards banquet, which included a silent auction, go to support programs at the museum. Luis Contreras II, museum director, expected this year’s total to top $22,000.

Contreras said this year, organizers changed things up in the presentation of the honorees, playing videos with pictures of honorees new and old.

“Every year, the presentations obviously stir up some very strong emotions,” Contreras said. “But this year, there were a lot of people crying.”

Lester could hardly speak when he took the microphone after accepting his award, choking up as he said everything he did was for his wife, who died Sept. 6.  

Jim Brunson

Brunson grew up in Edinburg, graduating from Edinburg High School. After majoring in electrical engineering at Brigham Young University, he worked at Houston Lighting and Power Company. In 1981, he moved to Mission to join June Brann as a partner in the Progress Times newspaper, then known as the Upper Valley Progress.

At the newspaper, he served as general manager and vice president from 1981 until June 2003, when he purchased the newspaper from Brann as she retired from a lifelong career in journalism.

In 1987, Brunson and Ms. Brann co-founded the Winter Texan Times, which quickly grew to become the premier Winter Texan newspaper in the entire Rio Grande Valley.

Since 2003, Brunson has served as publisher of both the Progress Times and the Winter Texan Times, and he launched a new publication, the Sharyland Times, in 2012.

He has served as Kiwanis Club president, Lions Club member, Mission Chamber of Commerce chairman of the board, Mission Downtown Merchants Association vice president, and as a member of Mission Citizens Advisory Board and Mission Economic Development Authority Board.

Through the Progress Times, Brunson continues the tradition started in 1981 of selecting and presenting the annual Citizens Awards for Mr. Mission, First Lady of Mission, Man of the Year and Woman of the Year.

In scouting, he has served many years as Scoutmaster, Varsity Team Coach, Explorer Advisor and Scout Committee Chairman.

As an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints he has served as early morning seminary teacher, Sunday school teacher, elders quorum leader, bishop’s counselor, bishop, high councilor, young men’s president, young single adult leader and public affairs specialist.

Brunson and his wife, Mendi, have five children – Trent, Daniel, Heath, Lindslee and Amy – and 15 grandchildren.

Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa

Before Hinojosa led the Rio Grande Valley at the state Legislature, he led the Mission Eagles football team as quarterback.

Hinojosa was born Dec. 9, 1949, to Juan de Dios and Esperanza Vela Hinojosa in McAllen, but he grew up attending Mission CISD school and working as a farm worker as a teen. When he graduated high school, Hinojosa volunteered for the U.S. Marine Corps, serving at Vietnam from 1966 through 1968.

When Hinojosa returned home, he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas-Pan American and a law degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

He was hired as a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society of Nueces County and later was an assistant attorney general for the Texas Attorney General. In 1970, Hinojosa began his own private practice in McAllen.

Hinojosa was elected a state representative in 1981 and served until 1990. He again was elected in 1997 and served until 2002. In 2002, he was elected to the Texas Senate.

And during the 2013 legislative session, Hinojosa authored Senate Bill 24, merging University of Texas-Pan American and UT-Brownsville and creating a medical school in South Texas.

The senator was named one of the “Top Ten Best Legislators” by Texas Monthly in 2013. It was the third time he’d earned the honor.

He has worked tirelessly to make South Texas a better place, from farmworker rights to children receiving a quality education to authoring legislation to bring a medical school to the Rio Grande Valley.

Don Riter Lester

Lester was born in Greenville and came to Mission in 1966.

He married Mary Jane Block in Quitman, Texas, and they have two children, Scott and Rhonda. He has been involved in the citrus industry since he came to Mission back in 1966. Lester worked in the grove care business with his brother-in-law Don Holbrook as owners of Rio Grande Valley Grove Care. He went to work for Hidalgo Orchard of Mission from 1975 to 1977.

Lester then went to work for Sharyland Plantation Produce, where he worked for more than 20 years. His dedication to Texas Citrus Fiesta began before 1973 when he became one of the Citrus Cavaliers – a group of individuals who were in charge of cooking the barbecue sirloin sandwiches to sell during the Texas Citrus Parade.

Lester served on the fiesta board from 1973 to 1994 and served as president several times. He and other Cavaliers drove the Texas Citrus Fiesta Queens float all over Texas to promote Mission and the Texas Citrus Fiesta. He was crowned King Citrus in 1977.

In the early 1980s, Lester was appointed chairman over the building of the Veterans Pavilion on South Inspiration Road by Mission Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas who at that time was Hidalgo County commissioner. Lester made sure it was equipped with a kitchen for cooking.

Lester and his wife Mary Jane celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary Aug. 8, 2006, in Austin with their family and friends. Lester is a proud great-grandfather of Riter Boon James, 2.  

Blanca Vazquez Marroquin

Vazquez Marroquin was born in McAllen in 1937 to Leonte and Luisa F. Vazquez. She is one of eight siblings: Beatrice, Bertha, Velia, Leonte Jr. Luisa and twins Luis and Lucy. Vazquez Marroquin attended elementary schools in McAllen and graduated from McAllen High School in 1956.

Vazquez Marroquin married Salomon S. Marroquin at La Trinidad Methodist Church in Pharr on July 22, 1967. They have two children: Carl and Melinda. They have two granddaughters and one great-grandson who was born in December 2013.

In 1974, Vazquez Marroquin went to work for the McAllen Chamber of Commerce as their bookkeeper and retired after 25 years. She has been a member of El Mesias United Methodist Church in Mission for 47 years, serving as the church bookkeeper for many years.

In her spare time Vazquez Marroquin volunteered at the Texas Citrus Fiesta office helping with the parade activities. On several occasions she and her husband Sol represented the Mission Historical Museum in the parade. For several years Vazquez Marroquin participated as Mrs. Santa Claus for the City of Mission, Crime Stoppers, Mission Hospital and several elementary schools. She also volunteers with the Friends of the Speer Memorial Public Library.  

She has been a volunteer for the museum since its inception. When the City of Mission approved the old city hall at 900 Doherty as the museum on Aug. 26, 2002, Vazquez Marroquin, Gen Long and Modene Johnson were instrumental in preparing the building to open on Nov. 11, 2002. In May, Vazquez Marroquin donated eight scrapbooks to the museum.

Amador Requenez

Requenez was born in Mission on Sept. 19, 1943, to Pedro and Maria Cristina Requenez and is one of five children.

He attended and graduated from La Joya Independent School District in 1963. He worked in the oil field industry before graduating from high school.

On Jan. 4, 1964, he married Alicia Esqueda who has been instrumental in their business for more than 40 years.  

In 1970, Requenez’s dream came true when he established his business, Valley Welding Service, serving the Rio Grande Valley with structural steel fabrication and erection and Crane Service. His company has manufactured and erected the steel for structures of hospitals, colleges, commercial buildings, schools, courthouses and the most recent addition to McAllen Airport. He and his wife have expanded their business to Laredo, Pflugerville, Beaumont and Houston.

Requenez has been a member of the Mission Chamber of Commerce, and he served on the Board from 1979 through 1982. He also was a member of the Citrus Cavaliers. He was a member of the Kiwanis Club, Rotary Club and a member of the Associated General Contractors. Requenez currently is serving on the Appraisal District Board where he has served a total of 22 years. He has participated and supported many local organizations with fundraising events in the community.

Alicia Esqueda Requenez

Esqueda Requenez was born on Feb. 19, 1943, in Durango, Mexico, to Pablo and Teresa Esqueda. She is one of eight brothers and sisters. Esqueda Requenez attended and graduated from La Joya ISD.

In 1964, Esqueda married Amador Requenez and they are proud parents of three daughters. They lived in the Palmview area for 20 years and moved to Mission in 1998.

Before receiving a degree as a registered nurse in 1973 from Pan American University, Esqueda Requenez worked for Mission Hospital as a licensed vocational nurse for three years and La Joya ISD for three years.

She served on the La Joya ISD Board of Trustees for 11 years. In 2003, she succeeded Kenneth White to serve on the board for Region One Service Center, and she still is a board member. She has also served nine years on the Mission Regional Medical Center Board, and the Foundation Board of the hospital for three years. She also is a member of the Lions Club of Mission.

She has been instrumental in helping run the family business for the past 40 years, and she said she’s ready for retirement but the man of the house says “No way, Jose.”

The Requenezes are proud parents of three daughters all graduates of La Joya ISD, Cynthia graduated from Texas Women’s University, Linda graduated from the University of Texas and Lisa Marie graduated from A&M in Kingsville.

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