Four members of the community were recognized for their superior services to the City of Mission on Oct. 15. At the annual Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce banquet, two men and two women became part of the more than 50-year tradition that Progress Times has continued.
Catherine Garcia was awarded 2015 Woman of the Year and David Deanda Jr. became the 2015 Man of the Year. This year’s First Lady of Mission and Mr. Mission are Genevieve “Gen” Long and Amancio Chapa, respectively.
The nominations had been open since the latter part of August, but the winners were kept secret until banquet night when Progress Times Publisher Jim Brunson and his wife, Mendi, the community news editor, announced the honorees.
FIRST LADY OF MISSION
Twenty-five years after she won the 1990 Woman of the Year award, Genevieve Long was escorted to the stage at Mario’s banquet hall to receive the First Lady of Mission award.
The City of Mission’s logo is emblazoned on Long’s heart and flanked by the Texas and U.S. flags, according to Mendi Brunson.
Long and her husband have been financially vested in the community, state and nation for decades.
She was founder and first president of Texas Agriwomen in 1985 and served as vice president on numerous committees. She worked actively on issues, legislation and budget processes affecting agriculture in Texas and the Valley.
“We often refer to males as a city’s ‘favorite son.’ She’s Mission’s ‘favorite daughter,” Mendi Brunson said.
Long was appointed to the USDA Advisory Board by President George H. Bush to oversee funding marked from the president’s budget and allocated for agricultural research and scientific development. She served as that board’s representative to meet with colleges and universities in Washington, D.C.
Through her activity in agriculture, she has received multiple recognitions on the state and national level and has traveled to numerous countries in cooperative outreach on agriculture issues.
She is a former president of Texas Municipal League, Amigos Del Valle and the North American Butterfly Association advisory board. Long was also a city councilwoman from 1992 to 2007 and served as mayor pro-tem.
As president of the Mission Downtown Merchants and Old Town Mission Committee, Long worked on the revitalization of the downtown area. She and her husband have invested in several of the old buildings downtown, including the Historic Border Theatre. The Tom Landry Mural was commissioned and continues to be maintained due to that same preservation dedication.
Long was instrumental in founding the Mission Historical Museum, serving as the museum’s first director and later as president of the board. As a member of the Mission Lions Club, she has served as first vice president.
He graduated as valedictorian from his high school in 1965 and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from the University of Texas in 1970.
After Chapa moved back to La Joya, he was elected to the La Joya ISD board of directors in 1971 – a position he held off and on for 20 years. He was elected mayor of La Joya in the 1970s, and then he returned to serve on the La Joya school board in 1982.
He was honored in 2001 for 22 years of service on the La Joya Independent School District Board of Trustees, and served as the district’s coordinator for the Center for History and Culture and director of the Fine Arts Department.
The La Joya native also served on the board of directors for Colegio Jacinto Treviño, a college birthed in the Civil Rights Movement.
Chapa served on the Housing Assistance Council board of directors and as its president. For 17 years, he was executive director of Colonias Del Valle and Amigos Del Valle.
He was a member of the executive committee of the National Council of La Raza, chairman of the Texas Association of Community Development Corporations and vice president of the Mexican American Democrats of Texas (MAD), and has been an active member of numerous other community-related boards.
Chapa has also served with Texas Folk Life Culture and Arts, as well as Las Porciones.
This year’s Mr. Mission continues to serve the Mission area with organizations such as the Mission Regional Medical Center, where he served as a board member from 2002-2013, and Mission Historical Museum, where he is a current board member, since 2012.
WOMAN OF THE YEAR
Catherine Garcia is a busy woman. She’s traveled the world in numerous humanitarian efforts—from Mexico to Asia to Europe to Africa. In addition, she has immersed herself in the fabric of Mission for over 25 years.
Garcia served as chairman of the board and other capacities for the Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce and as board president for the Mission Economic Development Corporation. She continues to serve on both boards, while also serving on the board of the Mission Economic Development Authority.
As graduate of the Leadership Mission program, she’s put her training and knowledge to good works volunteering on numerous committees – the Mayor’s Prayer Luncheon, the Mission Trash Bash and many of Mission’s Sister City events.
She’s a wife and a mother of two and an ordained minister with her husband. The two serve as lead pastors at Freedom of Life Church in Mission.
MAN OF YEAR
S. David Deanda Jr. moved to the Valley 25 years ago. Those who nominated Deanda for the honor describe him as a man of integrity. He’s honest, hard-working and ready to lend a helping hand, they stated.
Deanda is most well known as president and chief operating officer of Lone Star National Bank. The Man of the Year not only gives back to the community, but he encourages his 625 employees to give back to make the community stronger and better.
“Donating time and being involved in our community to make it a stronger community is not an option; it is a responsibility,” Deanda said in an interview with Texas Border Business.
His community service includes, but is not limited to, serving as a board member for the following organizations:
- President of Mission Economic Development Corporation
- Make A Wish Foundation of the RGV
- VAMOS (Valley Alliance for Mentors for Opportunity and Scholarships)
- Javelina Alumni Association
As a Christian, Deanda incorporates the teachings and principles of his faith in his daily work, said Jim Brunson.
“Christianity is not about religion,” Deanda said in an interview last year. “It is a relationship with God that either permeates every aspect of who you are, or it is non-existent.”