Our beloved, extraordinary Jose Vara Uriegas, Sr., age 82, was called to our Heavenly Father on Sunday, February 27, 2022. He was born on March 19, 1939, in Uvalde, TX, to Celso and Elvira Uriegas.
Following his older brother Raul’s death in WWII, he learned too young of the disparities and discrimination that communities can face despite their equal commitment to our society. He would often say that was the formative experience that drove him into education and, later, activism. In his early teens, Jose moved to Del Rio, TX to live on his own. He graduated from Del Rio High School, then attended St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, TX, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History in 1961. He was the first in his family to attend and finish a university-level education.
The life of Jose Uriegas can’t be confined to a single page. His life’s passion can be summarized as a deep love for and commitment to his family, friends, and community. He was especially proud of his professional dedication to cultivating underserved communities’ access to educational and economic opportunities. He wanted to change the world for the better.
He began as a High School History and Special Education teacher and developed into a lifelong community organizer and serial entrepreneur. He had many ventures – everything from a family Grocery Store, Tortilla Factory, Beauty Shop, and several restaurants, to more than a dozen community development organizations. Notably, he founded the Mexican-American Research Center, a nonprofit committed to his vision of improving economic opportunity via enhancing access to education, providing training and technical programs, and writing and lobbying for housing, business, and infrastructure development packages. His dedication to connecting-the-dots was able to channel millions of dollars of federal funds into small businesses, communities, and counties throughout the Southwest.
He was our family’s hero. For 30 years, he gave his all to caring for his wife Leticia and then his son Joey through their battles with Huntington’s Disease. He turned this experience and pain into action by raising funds for and awareness to the disease that took them both.
Remarkable is not enough of an accolade. He was charismatic, loving, and passionate about forging strong relationships. In most conversations with Jose, you would be treated to a parable about growing up in South Texas, a lecture on battling systemic economic inequalities, a story centered on his love for family, and an invitation down to Mexico to join him for a rum and coke on his boat. Jose touched our hearts and expanded our minds to think not of ourselves, but of others and what a difference we can make in each other’s lives.
He was preceded in death by his sons, Jose “Joey” Uriegas, Jr. and Jorge Omar Garcia-Manos; his first wife, Leticia Muriara Uriegas; his parents, Celso and Elvira Uriegas, and his siblings, Raul Uriegas, Martha “Chole” Luna, Celso Alejandro Uriegas, Anna Maria “Anita” Rodriguez (Porfirio), and Evangelina “Nena” Overstreet (Herman), and his son-in-law, Mark Smith.
Jose is survived by his children, Veronica Uriegas, Vanessa Johnson (Leon Johnson), Ivan Manos, and Marcela Manos Lopez (Juan); his wife, Lupita Manos Uriegas; son-in-law, Fred Rojas; grandchildren, Jaylen Johnson, Celso Rojas (Christine), Rico Rojas, Mary Madden (Chris), Julian Uriegas, Maria Jose Hernandez Garcia, Jose Mario Hernandez Garcia, Andrei Dimitri Esquivel, Johnathan Sebastian Lopez, and Mia Marcella Lopez; his sister, Lola Bermea, sister-in-law Alma Uriegas, and numerous nieces, nephews, and other loving family and friends.
Visitation will be held from 5:00-9:00 p.m. with Recitation of Holy Rosary beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 10, 2022 at Mission Funeral Home - South Side, 6204 S. First St., Austin, Texas.
Mass of Christian Burial will begin at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, March 11, 2022 at St. John Neumann Catholic Church, 5455 Bee Caves Rd., West Lake Hills, Texas. Public services for Mr. Uriegas will conclude following Mass.
The Uriegas family is creating a scholarship fund in memory of Jose. Details to follow.
Recitation of Holy Rosary will be live-streamed to allow those unable to attend to participate. Follow link to Facebook Live Mission - South Side
Funeral Mass will be live-streamed to allow for those unable to attend to participate. Follow link to YouTube Live.
Due to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 Restrictions from the City of Austin,
capacity levels are restricted at funeral homes, churches, and cemeteries.
We politely request the continued use of face coverings in an effort to
help protect our community. If you are ill or are concerned about the virus,
it is recommended that you not attend services.
The family is so grateful to everyone for their understanding, love, and support
during this very difficult time.