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Fermin was born to Alfredo & Maria Villarreal on June 16th, 1937 in Laredo, TX.
Affectionately known as "Papi" to all that loved & knew him, he was the 3rd of 5 children, who at the tender age of 14 suffered the loss his beloved mother. With 2 younger brothers needing to be raised he took on the responsibility of helping his father care for & help raise them, despite being a young teen himself.
He helped support the family by working odd jobs around town. At the age of 17 he got his 1st real job at HEB, working in the produce department. Soon after that he was promoted to the meat department and became a butcher. This was the beginning of his life-long passion for cooking & grilling. Never missing an opportunity to cook for family, friends, and neighbors. Everyone was welcome at his table and the legend of his deliciously famous bar-b-que spans all across Texas, but more on that later.
During these years he met our mother, Violeta, and after a year of courtship they married in a traditional catholic ceremony at Guadalupe Catholic Church in May of 1955. The following year, in May of 1956, they welcomed their child. And in the years that followed were blessed with 5 more.
In 1960, seeking a better life for his growing family, Papi & mom chose Houston as the place to plant their roots and call home. From 1960 to 1967 he worked as a master butcher in a local supermarket. Always striving for better for his family, he found a new opportunity with the City of Houston's Water Division and began his career as a Water Treatment Technician, until retiring in 1993.
In 1985 Papi married his 2nd wife Susanna Ibarra. Sharing many wonderful years together living in Pasadena, TX.
And on December 21st, 2001 settled down with his 3rd wife Maria Dolores Jasso, and his loving step-children.
Papi had a zest for life that was unmatched. A true family man, the immense pride he carried for his family shined through everywhere he went. All his friends will tell you that he would always talk about his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. All of whom he had affectionate nicknames for.
He had the heart of a Lion, and although never a rich man he commanded respect & kindness from all who knew him, because he too always showed them respect. Nothing ever got in his way; it was amazing to see him overcome any obstacle, most notably open heart surgery. Yet, that never got in the way of him making the 5 hour, 626 mile, round-trip drive from Laredo to Houston several times a year to come visit his children, extended family, & friends. He was a man of shear will power.
Papi had many passions in life.he loved playing poker & dominos with his sons, son-in-laws, grandsons, granddaughter's husbands, & friends. There was never a family get-together that you wouldn't find them all sitting around a table in the garage or on the patio playing all night. Hunting and being out on his friend Alfredo Juarez' ranch was another thing he loved to do. In the Fall his sons, grand-daughter's husbands, & friends would plan a trip to the ranch. Most recently they caught a huge hog, and at the age of 80 Papi taught all of the guys how to skin & gut it. Wow!
Family gatherings were something he loved hosting, especially big celebrations like Father's Days, birthdays, and of course Christmas. This was his time to shine because several days before the event he would get to work in his kitchen "throwin' down" on what were the most delicious and authentic dishes. We all knew better than to try to enter that kitchen, because that was HIS domain and he had things well under control. Once he got outside on his bbq pit the smoke would begin fill the air, and our eyes would widen because we knew some amazing bbq would soon be on our plates. To name just a few of his specialties were brisket, ribs, chiles rellenos, calabaza, menudo, capirotada, and so many more.
Papi was also known for his 'words of wisdom'. They spoke to the morals & values that were at the core of who he was as a man. Sayings like: "You reap what you sow", "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone", and "Don't bite the hand that feeds you" reflect on how he lived his life. Stern, but fair. Righteous. Charismatic.
He never met a stranger, and was a friend to all. His warm, strong hugs always left you with the lingering scent of his masculine cologne. Loving/Carinoso. Family-man. Proud/Orgulloso. Strong/Fuerte. These are just a few of his many, many qualities. Our Papi was so many things, to so many people, and he leaves behind an incredibly unbelievable legacy and a void in all of our hearts.
Papi, mi Rey, until we met again in Heaven. You will be in our hearts and minds, and be forever missed. Protect and watch over us. Te amamos hasta la eternidad.
Fermin's beloved family included:
Parents: Alfredo & Maria Villarreal
Siblings: Guadalupe Loza, Marcos Villarreal, Alfredo Villarreal, Rudolfo Villarreal
Wife: Maria Dolores Jasso de Villarreal
Childern: Maria Violeta Abarca - Jesse, Fermin Martin Villarreal - Eulalia, Mary Helen Uresti - Alfred (deceased), Diana Gilda Puente, Barbara Ann Villarreal, Gerardo Arturo Villarreal
Step-Children: Yaneth Rodriguez - Carlos, Francisco Rodriguez - Teresa, Jose Rodriguez - Poleth, Ricardo Rodriguez - Sandra, Pablo Rodriguez - Denis
Grandchildren: Natalie T. Dunn - Thomas, Ryan A. Abarca - Michael, Amanda D. Vasquez - Manuel, Eric K. Puente, Jessica N. Ramirez - Joe Angel, Jennifer M. Martinez - Jorge, Megan A. Villarreal
Step-Grandchildren: Mia, Ami, Gim, Francisco, Sofia, Ramiro, Jonathan, Pablo Jr., Ashley
Great-Grandchildren: Madison Grace, Austin Gene, Caleb, Julianna, Jacob, Jazlin, Jaden, Journey, Jazelle, Khloe and numerous nieces, nephews, extended family, and friends.