Tomasa (“Tomasita”) Garza De Ferreire
McAllen---Tomasa (“Tomasita”) Garza De Ferreire, 93, passedaway on August 29, 2018 at Pax Villa Hospice and PalliativeCare facility after a lengthy illness.Born in Rio Grande City, Tx, she lived her life as a military wifeto her beloved husband USAF Chief Master Sergeant ManuelDe Ferreire, Jr. (born on Fort Ringgold, Rio Grande City, Tx) for62 years until his passing in February 16, 2008. Preceding her in death are her father Jose Juarez Garza (born in Camargo, Tamp., MX) and Maria Gomez Garza (born in Mier, Tamp., MX), who became USA citizens and successful local business leaders. They founded the historical CaféMexico in 1937 in Rio Grande City, TX which was active for 40years. Also passed are her only brother Arturo J. Garza (U.S.Navy, WWII, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii), and wife Ofelia Salinas; sisters Raquel de la Garza and husband Valeriano de la Garza;Estela Saenz and husband Osbaldo Saenz (US Army, Korean war), and nephew Raul Cano, Jr. (USAF, Viet Nam era), all of Rio Grande City, Tx.Tomasita is survived by her daughters Dr. Mary Elizabeth De Ferreire, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist in McAllen, Tx, and Dr.Francine Virginia De Ferreire Kemp, Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership, retired professor and owner of an antique shop,and son-in-law Dr. Herbert C. Kemp, Ph.D., (Colonel, USAF,retired) owner of his government support services company ofHerndon, Virginia. Tomasita has 3 grandchildren: Leigh De Ferreire Rowen Rothermel (husband Col. Scott Rothermel, USAF), and their children, Travis De Ferreire (age 9) and Dillon Rowen (age 7); Matthew De Ferreire Kemp, (wife Anne) and their children Gabriel (age 10), Michael (age 8) and David (age 6) of Herndon, Virginia; and Eric Thomas Kemp, (wife Glenann) and their children Grey (age 3) and Clark (age 3 months) of Reston,Virginia.
Tomasita’s only surviving sibling is Elma Garza Cano, now 89 years old, widow of Capt. Raul V. Cano (US Army, Korean War) Tomasita attended Immaculate Conception Elementary
Catholic School in Rio Grande City where she met her future husband, Manuel, in 2 nd grade. She graduated from Rio Grande City High School in 1942. They married in January 23,
l946 upon his return as a highly decorated WWII veteran flying “The Donna Mae” B-17 in the 8 th Air Force in England. In the early 1960’s, she completed her Licensed Vocational Nursing
Certification in Waco, Texas and worked in a Waco, Texas Catholic hospital’s Burn Unit, the job she loved most. Tomasita was blessed to have 17 nieces and nephews. They have had their children, all surviving and thriving in their dedicated careers and interests, and most living in Starr County. Tomasita’s husband’s sister, Alice Morlan (deceased 1998), was also born on Fort Ringgold; she was survived by 2 daughters, Becky and Janice of California. Tomasita and Manuel made Austin, Tx their home after his military retirement in l969 (from l971-2004). There, Tomasita worked as a Sales Associate for Rexall drug stores, and at Scarboroughs and Bealle’s department stores where she excelled in being outstanding sales person for the various
promotions the stores held. After Manuel’s retirement from IRS Austin, he became ill and Tomasita and he relocated to Herndon, Va to live with daughter Francine and her family.
Being in the Washington D. C. area afforded them so many exciting opportunities to attend so many functions related to WWII veterans’ celebrations as well as other exciting
receptions as guests at the Smithsonian Museum or at receptions at different foreign embassies. After Manuel’s death in Virginia in 2008, Tomasita relocated to McAllen and lived with daughter Mary Elizabeth. During these past 10 years, nephews and nieces visited her, arriving with smiles on their faces, giving their “Tia” many hugs, kisses, flowers, gifts and goodies. When her beloved niece Ana Maria Gallardo lovingly visited, she brought Tomasita roses and dahlias from her own garden and also her wonderful delicious food, like fideo, pollo con calabaza, carne con papas, and pan fino. Mother sure did enjoy those meals!
Tomasita’s best friends were her cousin Jimmy Brown and his wife Isabel (“Chavelita” deceased 2018) of McAllen, TX with whom she and Manuel, since their childhoods, shared a life-
long mutual loving bond. They always expressed a deep adoration for each other all through the years, typically remarking how special their friendship was. Both Jimmy and
Isabel, experienced genealogists, traced Tomasita’s and Jimmy’s ancestry from maternal grandfather Odon Gomez (of Mier, Tamp, Mx) to their family of origin to the 17 th century in
Barcelona, Spain. Further ancestral research traced the family
lineage of that same grandfather to the 12 th century which led
to the astounding discovery that Tomasita’s 13 th level great
grandfather was King Ferdinand II of Spain, husband to Queen
Isabella. Cousin Ana often asked, “Why do our mothers and
aunts behave like they’re royalty?” Well, they truly were their
In the early l960’s, Tomasita worked as Case Worker with
Catholic Charites of Waco, Tx, registering hundreds of indigent
persons into the newly created Medicaid Program. For this,
she was honored by the Catholic Bishop Reicher in Waco for
her diligence and commitment to assist the poor.
In l967, during Manuel’s final military tour of duty at Ramstein
AFB, Germany, mother traveled in a Catholic Church
sponsored train trip to Rome, Italy. She participated in a
special group audience with Pope Pius XII, in addition to
visiting all the marvelous Roman historical sites. This truly
was one of her life’s highlights.
In l968, Manuel took Tomasita and his girls on the famous U.S.
Army “Troop Train” from Frankfurt, Germany to West Berlin,
Germany through the night to East Germany. The family was
allowed to visit East Berlin, crossing through the infamous
“Check Point Charlie” on a special access tour of the
communist controlled city. One memorable moment in West
Berlin was when Tomasita with Manuel, dressed in full USAF-
blue military uniform decorated with so many medals and his
famous WW-II B-17 Tail Gunner wings, sat on a sidewalk
bench admiring the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church of
Berlin. What an extraordinary moment for Tomasita to be
right there, where WWII history was made.
Also, Manuel and Tomasita and their daughters visited
throughout Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Luxembourg,
Holland, Spain, Italy, Greece, and Switzerland. In l968, he
took Tomasita and the girls to the International Winter
Olympics in Grenoble, France starring USA Gold Medalist Ice
Skater Peggy Fleming. That Summer, he took the family to
meet the De Ferreire family of Castaneida do Vouga, Agueda,
Tomasita was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother, great-
grandmother, daughter, sister, a fantastic baker and cook, a
creative seamstress, and a friend to many. Mother was loving
and extremely generous person. She was especially so with
young military wives and their children, more so as she could
relate to the struggles of being young and separated from
their families to now living life as an Airman’s wife. She
babysat their children, took the young wives shopping, and
even taught some of them how to cook. And, what a great
cook mother was!
Mother was a life-long member of the Texas Democratic
Party. She registered persons to vote when the family lived in
New Mexico, and also later in Austin, TX where she resided
between l971-2004. During the l980’s-l990’s, she met many of
the Texas Democratic Party’s “Stars” from Senators,
Congressmen/Congresswomen, Governors, Commissioners,
Judges, Mayors and City Council members. If she needed to
know anything or wanted to give her opinion, she would just
telephone their office and explain her concerns. If she saw
them later, they would always greet her with a smile and a
handshake, tell her that they were “right on it!”
Tomasita was a voracious reader of the Washington Post, the
New York Times, the Smithsonian, the Economist, National
Geographic, Time, and McAllen’s ‘The Monitor.’ Mother kept
abreast with current events and could discuss serious politics
with the most educated persons. She had such an astute
mind and was so wise about how to handle challenges she
had. She could have earned a Ph.D. herself!
Often she claimed she was not only a “Valley citizen,” but
more importantly, a true “Citizen of Starr County.” Wherever
she traveled, she always related her “story” of having grown
up in an historical family, the Café Mexico, Fort Ringgold, and
Rio Grande City. Tomasita always said that she grew up in a
wonderful and exciting era. Manuel always said he married
“the prettiest girl in town!”
In addition to her husband’s military accolades, Tomasita’s
greatest sources of pride were the expansive academic
achievements and continued professional successes of her
would strive for any goal and definitely succeed.
When one has an ill person in the home, one can hardly cope
with the trials of aging, without the help of many others. For
Mother, her in-home caretakers (Socorro, Maria, Blanca,
Laurie, Anna, Alma, and Gaby) rendered kind personal
assistance, and we thank them all. We also thank family
friends, Janie Garcia (deceased 2016) who always gave
Tomasita a smile, a hug, and whatever bracelet she was
wearing that day, all as gifts of love. And, we thank Mary Lou
Reyna for her thoughtfulness of often sending sweet pastries
home to mother.
We thank Tomasita’s physicians: Dr. Asistores, Dr. Igoa, Dr.
Silverman, and Dr. Daniel Guerra. We thank the hospitals’
Emergency Room Teams and the excellent quality of care she
received at McAllen Medical Center, McAllen Heart Hospital
and Doctors Renaissance Hospital. We thank all the therapists
at Legends rehabilitation center for their restorative services.
Mother would always try to say “thank you” to each hospital
caretaker whether they adjusted her position in the bed or
were responsible for administering batches of complicated
medications. We send blessings to all special persons who
have dedicated their lives to the care of the ill.
Most recently, Tomasita had been in the care of Pax Villa
Hospice and Palliative Care Facility of Mission, Texas with
Director Dr. Etienne and his incredibly dedicated staff.
Tomasita’s family thank the Nurses (Wendy, Alejandra, Angie,
Eloy, Geronimo (Bobby), Lydia, Jessica, Yvette), the facility’s
CNAs (Amanda, Carmelita, Eliamar, Hilda, Lizeth), Pastors,
Social Workers, and support staff (Cesar). We are also
especially grateful to the CNAs (Marta, Maribel, Carmelita),
who faithfully came each day to the home to provide personal
care to Tomasita. Our family extends a deep appreciation for
the love and compassion shown to Mother by family and staff
during her final days at the facility.
Tomasita had a strong faith in God, often prayed to sustain a
deep personal strength. She lived by high moral standards and
maintained her personal dignity and strong family values
forever. It is with heavy hearts and deep sadness that we
mourn Tomasita’s passing. The daughters have now lost both
their loving and very special parents.
God bless you Mother. God bless you Daddy. Thank you for all
you did for us, such personal sacrifices to give us the best life
we had with you two. We love you always!
Funeral services will be under the direction of Sanchez Funeral
Home, 301 E. 2 nd St, Rio Grande City, Tx. Visitation will be held
Monday, September 3, 2018, at the funeral home between
3:00pm to 9:00pm; the rosary will start at 7:00pm. Viewing
will continue on Tuesday, September 4, 2018, at 8:00am
followed by the funeral Mass at 10:00am to be celebrated at
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, on Britton Avenue in
Rio Grande City, TX. Pallbearers will be Herbert Kemp, Eric
Kemp, Scott Rothermel, Larry Gallardo, Victor Gallardo,
Valeriano de la Garza, Eduardo de la Garza, Osbaldo Saenz,
Beto Saenz, and Nicolas Cano. Burial services will follow at
1:00pm at the Rio Grande Valley Veterans Military Cemetery
on 25205 South Inspiration Rd in Mission, TX. Tomasita will be
laid to rest with Manuel, her hero-husband. A post-funeral
family luncheon will follow at a location to be announced.