Obituary of Adán Benavides, Jr.
Adán Benavides Jr. was a fine person and an excellent scholar. He was kind, caring, and always helpful. His friends and family remember his keen sense of humor, his love of classical music that included playing the piano and violin, his appreciation of fine art, literature, and furniture, and his being an excellent cook.
A true son of South Texas, Adán was born in Mission, Texas on 19 December 1947 to Adán Benavides and Pilar Cavazos Benavides. After graduating from McAllen High School in 1966, he attended Loyola University in New Orleans, Louisiana. Adán graduated cum laude in 1970 and continued his education in history at Exeter College, Oxford University, England. Upon his return to the US, he pursued and in 1983 earned a master’s degree in Latin American history at The University of Texas at Austin. His thesis advisor was Dr. Nettie Lee “Miss” Benson, for whom the Latin American Library was later named.
Adán was intimately familiar with the Río Grande Borderlands. He was a direct descendent of Captains Francisco Benavides and Juan Cavazos del Campo, both of whom were in the second wave of colonizers of Monterrey and Cerralvo, Nuevo León, México, arriving in the 1620s. Descendants of Cavazos were among the founders of Reynosa, Tamaulipas, México in 1740. Later members of these families demarcated grazing and farmlands in South Texas. Adán’s genealogical studies led him to conclude that he was related to more than half the population in the Lower Río Grande Valley.
Professionally, Adán worked as a Research Librarian at the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection. He was an archivist, historian, and mentor with generous intellectual curiosity. One of his many accomplishments was compiling and editing The Bexar Archives 1717-1836: A Name Guide, University of Texas Press, 1989. The book has been described as an “Excellent source for family histories or history of Mexico/Texas/San Antonio.” He also published scores of articles in academic journals and chapters in edited volumes. A sample of titles include “Archival investigations for Mission Nuestra Señora de los Dolores de los Ais: A catalog of documents and maps,” “Sacred space, profane reality: the politics of building a church in the eighteenth century,” and “The fortification of Laredo: the documentary evidence for proposals in 1792 and 1813.” Adán was also an expert translator and epigrapher of Spanish colonial documents. He contributed these skills freely to scholars interested in the Borderlands and beyond.
He is survived by brothers Tony Solis of Cayce, SC, and Gabriel Benavides of McAllen, TX, and a sister Liza Benavides Garza also of McAllen. He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Fortunato “Pete” Pedro Benavides, who was a judge on the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, Ray Solis, John Lee Solis, Joe Solis, and sister Mary Lou Lara. Adán’s life was extended nearly 11 years by a double lung transplant in 2013. He died 20 December 2023, one day after his 76th birthday.
In lieu of flowers, please become an organ donor.
A memorial services will be held at a later date.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Adán Benavides, Jr., please visit Tribute Store