On Thursday, Aug 23, 2012 surrounded by his loving family, our beloved father Jose A Villanueva Sr. went peacefully to the arms of his Savior at Emerald Convalescent Center in Wapato.
He was born March 30, 1927, in Edinburg Texas to Chrisoforo and Juana Cortez Villanueva.
He spent his early years in Texas and Mexico and received his early education there.
He served in the U.S. Army from 1945 to 1947 during WWII, being honorably discharged. He was awarded the Army of Occupation medal.
After returning to civilian life he met and married the love of his life Beatriz Farias in 1949, settling in the Yakima County and finally making their home in Sunnyside.
As a Latino pioneer of the Lower Yakima Valley, he engaged in many endeavors; he was a migrant farm worker, heavy construction worker, social worker and activist, and entrepreneur.
He was best known as owner and operator of La Fiesta Restaurant in Sunnyside.
He was instrumental in establishing the first migrant farm workers Early Childhood Day Care Center, and a local food cooperative.
He was one of the founding board members of Heritage University in Toppenish and served in support of many local service entities.
Most importantly, alongside his wife Beatriz, he established Ministerio Nueva Vida servicing the Latino Catholic community. As part of this ministry they helped found the annual Congresso Charismatico held in Yakima and was recently honored for these founding efforts.
He was a lifetime Catholic.
On their 57th wedding anniversary in 2006 Jose and Beatriz received the Apostolic Blessing from Pope Benedict XVI.
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Beatriz; his 11 children, Maria (Armando) Sanchez of Gridley, Calif., Mario (Jane) of Olympia, Mary Jane (Steve) Allen of Sunnyside, Frank (Vena) of Lacey, Chris (Ester) of Bellevue, John (Marti) of Grandview, Suzi (Greg) Carpino of Sunnyside, Maria Nena Kresse of Kennewick, Joe (Godeleva) Spanaway, Lisa (Paul) Erickson of Kennewick, Maria (Louis) Scudiero of Pullman; 35 grandchildren, 47 great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his parents; two brothers; and three sisters; his grandson, Jose Armando Sanchez; and his son-in-law, Steve Allen.
He was a man who loved his God and tried to share God's love with everyone he met.
Special heartfelt thanks to the staff at Emerald Care who became an extension of our family by providing him the love and care he deserved.
Viewing and visitation will be held today, Aug. 27, 2012, from 4 to 8 p.m., with recitation of the Holy Rosary to be recited at 6 p.m. at Smith Funeral Home in Sunnyside. Mass of Christian Burial will be held Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012, at 11 a.m. at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Sunnyside, with military honor burial to follow at Lower Valley Memorial Gardens in Sunnyside.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Emerald Care Activities Dept. in Wapato.
Those wishing to sign Jose's on-line memorial book may do so at www.funeralhomesmith.com
Smith Funeral Home Ltd. and Crematory in Sunnyside is in charge of arrangements.