Sofia Antoinette (Cavazos) Ortega
Toni was born in the lower Rio Grande Valley in 1925 on La Noria Ranch, 20 miles north of Edinburg. Her family moved to the area in the early 1800s with the largest Spanish Land Grant ever awarded in New Spain, the Cavazos-Cardenas land grant. Her Great Grandfather, José Narcisco Cavazos built his ranch north of town. Her Father, Amado Cavazos Jr., was born in 1873. After long horse rides to college in Victoria, at the beginning and the end of each year of college in the 1890s, he thought we needed a college closer to home. He was an original founder of Pan American University now known as UT RGV. Her mother was Sofia Anzaldua Cavazos, born in 1894. She was from a nearby ranch and a mother to her and her 7 brothers and sisters that survived childhood and so much more.
Toni worked as a cattle drive chuck wagon cook for a teen summer, for Lee Walker oil services, and at the County Court House for Senator Lloyd Bentsen when he was the county judge for Hidalgo County. If you ever received a card or letter from her, you will remember her calligraphic handwriting, something she learned from the head accountant at Lee Walker oil services. She married Tony (Lorenzo) Ortega, an air cadet going through navigator training in Harlingen in 1954. Together, they had a 20-year career in the Air Force with her supporting her husband who was often gone flying. She raised the children and kept the house and cars up. She also attended the funerals of her fellow wives' husbands, flyers lost flying Cold War and Vietnam War missions with her husband. She supported him in all that he did and raised their 4 children: Larry (Lorenzo), Charmaine, Luis and Samuel. They were the focus of her life. She was a giver who poured out her love on her family, encouraging each child in their path.
Larry (wife Jackie) graduated from the Air Force Academy. He then built, tested and launched spy satellites, attended Test Pilot School, flew experimental jets and experimental satellites. He trained astronauts to land the Space Shuttle and helped develop the DC-X, the first re-usable rocket, and designed one of the first flying cars. He's now developing new space sensors to find oil and gold from space.
Charmaine graduated from Notre Dame and the UT Southwestern Medical School. She is a distinguished, awarded and published Emergency Room Physician that has saved, and continues to save, hundreds of lives in dire circumstances. She traveled the world with private jet medical transport services and has provided life-changing medical services to the indigent in countries too poor to have any medical services at all. She started the first Sexual Assault Nurse Examination program in Alabama, which has now spread to Europe and beyond. She is now developing a series of high tech, bio-technology clinics using electricity and nutraceuticals to treat chronic pain.
Luis (wife Carleen) works as a research scientist and technician developing new technologies. He is still currently deploying to provide support to these technologies globally.
Sam (wife Cyndi), an Aggie from Texas A&M, is a rocket and space systems scientist for NASA. He led the management of the Space Shuttle solid rocket motors, trained astronauts to walk in space using under water simulators and developed space experiments to fly on the Space Shuttle. He is now working with Space X, Blue Origin and other contractors to arrange for use of NASA test facilities. This effort supports some of their operations here at the new launch site at Boca Chica near South Padre Island.
All of the successes of her children were due to her insistence that "they could achieve anything", that "they would get good at what they do" and that "many people would tell them they couldn't do things and they were to never pay attention to anyone who said such things". She lived each of these admonitions and was a brilliant example of owning her life.
At her sister Lola Garza's insistence, she worked for H&R Block during tax season for over 2 decades. As her kids left the home, she started the first Ronald McDonald House in San Antonio, Texas. After this, she began traveling to Europe, Mexico, Las Vegas and the Casino Trail between Louisiana and Huntsville, Alabama where two of her children lived. She loved to spend time with family and friends.
She is the last of her 7 brothers and sisters, Amado (Y O), Martha (Bebe) Longoria, Juan (Johnny), Aminta Zarate, Mela Molina, Dolores (Lola) Garza and Jose Maria (Chema). She has 5 grandchildren: Michael (deceased, age 7, due to cancer) (Larry), Noah (Luis), Sierra (Sam), Troy (Luis) and Solomon (Sam).
She will also be remembered by countless nieces and nephews, from their 80s to their 20s, who have loved her wonderful counsel throughout their lives. She was everyone's favorite Tia, she loved life, and lived with gusto, her way. Everyone remembers her delight in being impeccably dressed in the latest fashion. She lived large and had a heart that was even larger.
She loved God, and all the people she knew, and was a life-long member of Sacred Heart Parish, where she was baptized, had her first reconciliation, first holy communion, confirmation, was married and where, after 95 years on this earth, her funeral Mass will be held on Monday, December 7, 2020 at 10:00a.m. A novena of rosaries will be prayed for her as she and her family have done for generations for their loved ones, since they arrived in New Spain. Funeral services have been entrusted to Ceballos-Diaz Funeral Home, 322 East Kuhn Street in Edinburg.
Click here to view a webcast of the service on 12/7/2020 at 08:00 AM, Central Standard Time.
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