Maria Elsa Villarreal

August 3, 1931 ~ July 30, 2022 (age 90)


On a bright sunny day in Laredo Texas, on August 3, 1931, at 919 Victoria, in the home of Raul Catarino Salinas and Olivia Mary Hickey Salinas a beautiful baby girl was born unto this world and bequeathed the Christian name: Maria Elsa Salinas.   This beautiful girl journeyed through her childhood and life with the blessing of having seven cousins on her mother’s side who were to her, as she stated many, many times, her brothers and sisters: Thomas Hickey, James Hickey, Dianna Hickey Whipple, Joseph Hickey, John Hickey, Mary Ellen Hickey and Olivia Hickey Reyher.

On her Irish side of the family (Hickey) she was very proud of her ancestor, engineer and founder of the Irish Railways, William Dargan and had the pleasure of visiting Dublin and retracing ancestral linages with family members.

Speaking nothing but the Spanish language when entering grade school she quickly learned the English language and flourished in her studies.  Back then there was no coddling or bi-lingual accommodations, it was sink or swim.  Let the record show that she was a heck of a swimmer!  High School years were passed thru at St Augustine Catholic church where she graduated Valedictorian and High School beauty queen.  As pics reveal from this time, the crown was aptly bestowed.  No fairer and beautiful a young Irish/Spanish lass could there ever be.

Seeking love, independence and adulthood at age 17 she entered into marriage to the Villarreal ranching family marrying Amando Villarreal Jr. and honeymooning in New Orleans.  Returning to Laredo to start her new family life as a farmer’s wife, on land that is now part of the Laredo International Airport, she gave birth at Mercy Hospital to her first child in 1950, Mari Elsa Villarreal, followed three years later by the birth of Amando (Terry) Villarreal in 1953.   Seeking a more prosperous life than farming was providing, she and her family relocated to Houston Texas and husband Amando began his employment at the Internal Revenue Service.  She did not get her own home immediately but instead headed the household at a rented abode located at 123 East Janisch in north Houston off Shepherd Dr.   During this time, she gave birth to son Patrick Villarreal in 1955, followed by the birth of son Joseph Villarreal in 1960.  In 1959, she moved the family to 5530 Beechnut and resided there for the next thirty five years.  In 2006, following the death of her husband in 2004, she moved to 4818 Spruce in Bellaire and resided there for over ten years until moving permanently to The Tradition.

The 1960’s being a transitional period in history from the greatest generation to the social unrest of the Vietnam war, Cuban missile crisis, assassinations, changing mores with the advent of the pill, anti-war protest and rock music, long hair, drugs and the peace, love, dove, incense and waterbeds and Timothy Leary mantra, it was not an easy time for a woman of her gentile generation to raise a family.  Change is hard, and change struck her heart with the death of her oldest son during this time period.  With her family dynamics changed and the end of the ‘60’s, her family transitioned to the ‘70’s.   In the ‘70’s, the family became more prosperous, her children less dependent and her social opportunities expanded for her to grow and enjoy a broader adult life.  She flourished and had a life of blessed times with family, friends, social events and world travel.  Favorite travels were with family and cousins to Ireland, family to Spain, France and Italy along with trips with the Institute of Hispanic Culture to meet the King of Spain.

Her children all married and blessed her with grandchildren and great grandchildren.  At her death, she is survived by daughter Mari Villarreal Villanueva, grandson Robert (Robbie) Bailey and wife Derika, great- grandchildren, Kathleen, Olivia, Robert Jr; son Patrick Villarreal and wife Elizabeth, grandchildren James and wife Justina, great- grandchildren Joanna and Joshua James, grandson Jonathan, grandson Sean, and granddaughter Emily Isabella; and son Joseph Sr. and wife Ashley, grandson Joseph Jr. 

On Saturday, July 30, 2022 five days short of her 91st birthday Irish angels rested their wings right beside her door and at the appointed time entered her room and took her upon their wings up to heaven to reside in eternal peace in the kingdom of heaven.  An angel thus returned to her heavenly home.

Many,  if not all, that have been blessed to be a part of her journey have multiple great memories of Mom, Grandmother, Great Grandmother, friend, cousin and life acquaintance to share.  Memories and stories about a life lived well, one of self-sacrifice, service and giving more than ever asking or taking while always being an example, mentor and teacher on how to live life in humbleness, grace, joy, resiliency and love.  All the shared memories would fill a book longer than the novel War and Peace.

She personified beauty, eloquence, charm, grace, kindness, love and affection and departed this earthly world with, we can only hope, a smile and final thought of, “what a blessing it has been and what a ride; Lord I am now ready to return into you eternal embrace.”

We will endlessly miss you Mom but you will always live in our hearts and minds.  You are the very essence of who we are thanks to your unconditional love, guidance, mentoring, example and light.   It is nothing less than your legacy.  From the heart, thank you for you.  We will love your forever Mom and are ever so grateful.  We promise to give the infamous dirty look to those that deserve it and to always close the door that we have opened behind us.

May joy and peace surround you,

Contentment latch your door,

And happiness be with you now,

And bless you evermore.

As William Shakespeare said, “Farewell, God knows when we shall meet again;” and for all that will always love you, “Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” Dr Seuss


August 25, 2022

4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Bradshaw - Carter Memorial

Funeral Mass
August 26, 2022

10:30 AM
St. Vincent De Paul Catholic Church
6800 Buffalo Speedway
Houston, Texas 77025

August 26, 2022

11:30 AM to 12:30 PM
St. Vincent’s Monsignor Jamail Family Center.
6800 Buffalo Speedway
Houston, TX 77025

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