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Abel  N.  Peña

Obituary for Abel N. Peña

January 31, 1929 - August 13, 2018
Leander, Texas | Age 89



When we begin the story of our lives, the only chapter we are aware of is our epilogue. We don't know its contents, just that it is there, blank, waiting for the words to be written. All we can do is fill in the preceding chapters with such a life that the epilogue, no matter its shape, cannot measure up to the words that came before it. My grandfather had such a life
Dickens took a thousand pages to weave the tale of someone's life, but I only have a handful of paragraphs, which I know could never completely capture who my grandfather was and still is to all those who loved him and knew him.

Abel Nolasco Peña, 89, passed away in his sleep at 3:30 AM on Monday, Aug. 13, 2018 in Austin, Tx. Born Jan. 31, 1929 in San Juan, Tx, my grandfather grew up with a natural aptitude for business. No stranger to hard work, he would sell popcorn or shine boots during his childhood. As he got older, he would continue to showcase an industrial spirit. Unlike his peers meandering without solid direction, my grandfather, at eighteen, took a gamble and opened up his own grocery store-All Cash. A small place that would have flabbergasted anyone to learn was being owned and managed by someone fresh out of high school and who'd been a football player only a short time before. My grandfather proved even in the dawn of his youth to be a capable and ambitious individual.

However, the U.S. Army's draft changed his trajectory. He served his country while stationed in Alaska during the early fifties. While still on active duty, my grandfather would marry his high school sweetheart, my grandmother, Evangelina on May 17, 1951. His first daughter, Belinda, would be born not long after while he continued his tour in the Great White North.

After exiting the military, my grandfather and grandmother would, between 1952 and 1967, become blessed with six more daughters-Beyda, Zelinda, Elsa, Myrna, Eva, and Toni-and one son-Abel, Jr. They would also play guardian to one Ana Maria Middlebrook. Beyond his loving spouse and children, my grandfather would receive the gift of twenty-three grandchildren and seventeen great-grandchildren whom he greatly adored.

As I've said, my grandfather had an entrepreneurial spirit. Through their lives, my grandfather and grandmother would establish Peña's Food Mart in downtown McAllen, which would serve the community throughout the years becoming a popular place now fondly remembered by baby boomers who grew up with it. Especially my mom who had worked it with her seven sisters and brother. However, not satisfied in just food retail, my grandparents would further their business acumen by opening a laundromat and developing three subdivisions in the McAllen area. Eventually, my grandfather and grandmother would go into early retirement once their best employees (their children) had married off.

Many of you remember him as the great man I've just described. My grandmother remembers him as a husband. My mom, aunts, and uncle as a father. However, I can only remember him as a grandfather. Looking back, I remember grandpa being mild-mannered and reserved. During gatherings, when our houses seemed bursting with every family member under the sun, grandpa would always be seated somewhere in the living room watching and observing, speaking only when something needed to be said. However, that stoic expression would always crack a smile or brightened up whenever I or anyone of my cousins would come by to interact. He would just come alive with joy at being a grandfather, before quickly returning to his silent demeanor. But I've heard from my father and my uncles, who affectionately referred to him as Maverick (after the Mel Gibson character because he always had an ace up his sleeve during poker games), would talk far more than I ever remember. I suppose in mixed company he maintained an air of commanding dignity, but when he was with the guys, he became animated and youthful, like, I suppose he may have been during his football years.

Grandpa I'll miss you. I'm happy for all the memories I have of you, and am joyous for all the stories of you I'll pass down to my own children. You showed us what it meant to be a man. To be honest and forthright. To never give up no matter how bad or hopeless things seemed. To always respect those around you, and to never let anyone treat you poorly. Be joyous grandpa that you leave behind an incredible legacy. We live on in the memories of those we leave behind, and you've left behind more people than I can count. Your epilogue came as it did, and, as I've said, it couldn't measure up to the man you were. A quiet, peaceful conclusion to a life filled with great romance, incredible success, and a strong family.

A Memorial Visitation will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. with a Rosary at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 16, 2018 at Weed-Corley-Fish Leander, 1200 South Bagdad Road.

A Memorial Mass will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Friday, August 17, 2018, at St. Thomas More Catholic Church, 10205 Ranch Road 620 North in Austin, Texas.

I leave you all with the immortal words of Henry James: "Sorrow comes in great waves...but it rolls over us, and though it may almost smother us, it passes and we remain." We remain to remember. We remain to live. We remain to tell your stories.

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Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home North

3125 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78705
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