DALLAS, TX. – Maria Teresa Cavazos, known to all as “Nena”, passed away peacefully in her home in Dallas on Friday, February 14, 2020. Nena was born in San Benito, Texas on June 29, 1932. She graduated from San Benito High School then attended Texas Southmost College where she met, as she described, “a handsome green-eyed football player from Brownsville, Texas”. He was Juan N. (Johnny) Cavazos and they married on October 7, 1953.
While Johnny was in the Air Force, Nena was introduced to the insurance business working for Duffy Insurance in San Benito. After receiving her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Incarnate Word College, Nena worked for Quirk Insurance Agency in San Antonio until they moved back to Brownsville. Nena taught second grade at Ebony Heights (now Martin Elementary) in Brownsville for 2 years. In 1965, Nena and Johnny decided to try their luck at opening their own insurance agency. They owned and operated Cavazos Insurance Agency in Brownsville together for over 45 years. Over their nearly 59 years of marriage, they worked together, traveled the world, hunted big game, spent carefree time on their favorite beach in South Padre Island and cared for Nena’s younger brother Richard Sanchez who had Downs Syndrome. Nena was very involved with St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Brownsville and served in several capacities on the church board.
Nena and Johnny were both firm believers in education, and they gave back to the community by establishing endowments to provide scholarships to high school and college students. Their philanthropy began by sponsoring scholarships to Brownsville High School college bound students and, in 2002, they established a fund at BISD to award scholarships to high school athletes to continue their education. Continuing in that passion for education, they established the Johnny N. and Nena S. Cavazos Scholarship Endowment for $1 million at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, for students majoring in kinesiology and elementary education.
In May 2006, Texas Southmost College honored the couple with their highest award, the Distinguished Alumnus Award. They were the first husband and wife selected as joint recipients of the award and they were honored to receive it.
Having no children of her own, Nena was the beloved “Tia” to 21 nieces and nephews and numerous great-nieces and nephews. Nena was preceded in death by her husband, Johnny, her parents Enrique Sanchez and Concepcion Martinez Sanchez, her brothers Benny Sanchez, Henry Sanchez and Richard Sanchez and her sister Silvia Isabel Sanchez.
She is survived by her sister, Mary Ann (Mike) Hernandez; brother, Emilio (Norma Ramos) Sanchez; and by her nieces and nephews.
There will be a Memorial Mass at St. Mary's Catholic Church at 1914 Barnard Road in Brownsville, Texas on Monday, March 09, 2020 at 2:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you consider a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association or Alzheimer’s Foundation in Nena’s name.
Memories of Nena may be shared at www.darlingmouser.com.
Personalized funeral arrangements have been entrusted to the care of Darling-Mouser Funeral Home at 945 Palm Boulevard in Brownsville, Texas 78520, (956) 546-7111.
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