By the Grace of God, Grace Estela Morales Peña was finally relieved of duty and called back to the home office at 11:11 am on December 17, 2019. During her 95-year career of service to the bottom line as the Peña matriarch, she also managed to maintain several successful careers even into her elder years.
She was a woman ahead of her time, setting a sterling example for her three daughters Sonia, Belinda, and Nancy, by proving women could do it all. She was a strong, passionate mother and grandma to eight adoring grandchildren and four great-grandchildren who knew they could do no wrong in her eyes.
She was born on November 27, 1924 in Del Rio,Texas to Antonio and Aurora Morales, descendants of families from Mexico and Alicante, Spain. She and her seven sisters idolized their only brother whom they lost in service during WWII. She went on to marry Alfonso “Al” Pena on January 11, 1948 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Del Rio. She and Al moved to Houston in 1956 where she quickly proved her mettle as the quintessential working mom as an executive secretary in the oil & gas industry and banking, a loan officer, a translator, and of course running Al’s entrepreneurial pursuits.
Grace was a consummate hostess, the model for the Energizer Bunny, and the inventor of multi-tasking. When the girls were teenagers in the sixties, she was the cool mom who created an atmosphere of such acceptance that everyone wanted to hang out at the Peña house, where Grace offered homemade tortillas and haircuts for the boys that took off just enough to keep them from getting kicked out of school. She was always there for her husband, children, grandchildren, and every employer. A longtime Westbury resident and a devout Catholic, she and her “Mafia” church group attended St. Thomas More Catholic Church for years.
Even when Grace lost Al, her 65-year partner in crime and comedy, and dementia made it impossible to move on to her next career, she handled her circumstances graciously, surprising us with a witty remark when we least expected it, even offering to manage her grandson’s businesses at the young age of 94. It was her way of saying as long as her body was still functioning, her mind wasn’t giving up completely.
Often in those twilight years you could walk through Belinda’s front door and find her watching telenovelas with Maria Carillo Garcia, her dedicated caretaker, companion, and honorary family member. She would look up, always grateful to see you, then catch you off guard with a wink and stick out her tongue at you (her signature move).
The queen of all “pipitoches,” Grace’s light seemed like it would never burn out. She lived through so many changing times and conquered them all with “Grace.” She blessed us with her spark and her love, and we often wondered how God could have given us such an angel; turns out God only gave her body as a loan to house her immortal spirit. Now she can finally be at peace. Or not. She’s probably looking for Al on the golf courses of the hereafter, and it might be better for Al if she doesn’t find him because she might want to motivate him.
She is survived by daughters Sonia Graney and her husband Dennis, Belinda Large Bishop and her husband Jim Bishop, Nancy Brocker and her husband Ted, and former son-in-law Bill Large; grandchildren Denny Graney and his wife Shelley, Adam Stungis and his wife Allie, Ryan Graney and his wife Nicole, Monte Large and his wife Esmar, only granddaughter Anna Large, T.J. Brocker and and his wife Bianca, and David Brocker and his wife Lauren; great-grandchildren Olivia Graney, Jack Graney, Niloufar Sullivan-Large, and Elias Brocker. She is preceded in death by grandchildren Meredith Brocker and Kevin Graney, and beloved husband Alfonso Peña.
In lieu of flowers the family asks that you donate to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America.
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