We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Darling-Mouser Funeral Home
BROWNSVILLE, TX. - Rachel G. Torres, a devoted grandmother, mother, and community advocate who dedicated her life to the advancement of the city of Brownsville, U.S.-Mexico relations, and the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, peacefully left this Earth to join her late husband, Robert A. “Bob” Torres, Sr., and our Lord in Heaven on Wednesday, the 13th of July 2022 at the age of 87.
A lifelong resident of Brownsville, Rachel was born on September 29, 1934, to Angélica Garza. For 58 years, she was married to the love of her life, Bob, with whom she not only raised a family but also spent decades engaged in public service, leaving an indelible mark on South Texas.
Her tireless efforts at the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce, where she worked for nearly 40 years, and at the Mr. Amigo Association, where she served as the organization’s first female president, earned her multiple recognitions on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1999, she received the prestigious Ohtli Award, one of the highest honors bestowed to individuals by the Government of Mexico, in acknowledgement of her role in strengthening ties between the U.S. and Mexico.
Through her work with the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce, Rachel was instrumental in coordinating and establishing the maquiladora industry along the border, often translating contracts and other key documents overnight to ensure that deals went through. At one point, she held the role of interim executive director at the Chamber, becoming the first female to hold that position.
When it became apparent that the U.S. Consulate in Matamoros was in danger of closing its doors, Rachel jumped into action to ensure it would continue, engaging with Washington on a daily basis to provide detailed examples of the consulate’s importance. Today, the U.S. Consulate General in Matamoros remains open.
Rachel was a pillar of the Mr. Amigo Association, which each year honors a Mexican citizen who contributes to friendly bi-national relations. She was the first female to join the organization’s board of directors and later served as its first female president in 1979. That year, Mr. Amigo recognized its first female recipient, the singer Lola Beltrán.
For decades, Rachel served as a member of the Charro Days Board, helping organize Brownsville’s annual celebration of Mexican heritage. In 1987, Rachel created the annual “Hands Across the Border'' event, which has kicked off the Mr. Amigo and Charro Days festivities every year since. The event features the exchange of national flags by schoolchildren from both Brownsville and Matamoros and the international greetings by their respective mayors, and remains a symbol of the close bond between the two border cities. In 2015, both Rachel and Bob were recognized as Grand Marshalls for the 78th Charro Days Parade.
Rachel played a critical role in bringing magnet schools to Brownsville and helped establish the Brownsville Economic Development Commission, Gladys Porter Zoo, Brownsville Crime Stoppers, the Brownsville Information Center, and the Palo Alto Visitors Center. In a congressional announcement, U.S. Representative Filemón Vela also highlighted her support of the arts and her work advocating for healthcare access in the Valley.
Rachel’s dedication to a vast range of local initiatives earned her countless other state and local awards. She was highly regarded as a historian of Brownsville and a go-to resource for business matters in the city.
A faithful Catholic her entire life, Rachel was fiercely devoted to the preservation and celebration of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Brownsville’s oldest church, as well as the Sacred Heart Church. She served on the Cathedral’s finance committee and co-chaired the four-day celebration of the Cathedral’s 150th anniversary.
Rachel will be remembered for her quick wit, sharp memory, boundless love for her grandchildren, and an undying commitment to the people and institutions of Brownsville, the city of her birth. She leaves a legacy as a trailblazer and true public servant. She will be deeply missed.
Rachel is survived by her son, Robert A. “Bobby” Torres, Jr., and his wife, Natalie; her daughter, Christine Torres Rodriguez, and her husband, David; her brother, Raul I. Garza; her three beloved grandchildren, James David, Robert Christopher, and Michael Alexander Rodriguez; and numerous nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her mother, Angélica Garza; Godmother, Alejandra Recio; Godfather, Adolfo C. Recio; brother, Martín Recio; and sister in law, Bertha Garza.
Visiting hours will be held on Friday, the 15th of July 2022 between the hours of eleven o’clock in the morning and four o’clock in the afternoon within the East Chapel of Darling-Mouser Funeral Home. The recitation of the holy rosary will follow at six o’clock in the evening at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 602 E. Elizabeth Street, Brownsville.
The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at half past ten o’clock in the morning on Saturday, the 16th of July 2022 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. All services will conclude at the church.
The family will gather for a private interment at a later date.
Charitable contributions can be made to the Sacred Heart Building Fund in her memory.
Memories of Rachel may be shared at www.darlingmouser.com.
Personalized funeral arrangements directed by Steven R. Hieu Bailey and Staff have been entrusted to the care of Darling-Mouser Funeral Home at 945 Palm Boulevard in Brownsville, Texas 78520, (956) 546-7111.