I didn’t speak at my Dad’s funeral last week. It turns out I didn’t need to. My niece and goddaughter Rachel and my nephew David did excellent jobs speaking. I had prepared remarks titled, Four Books.
Here is what I would have said.
My Dad is mentioned in 4 books. Some would consider that an accomplishment. I certainly do.
The first book is A Little Bit of This, and a Little Bit of That by the Siete Foods folks. The title is what my Mom would say was in her recipes.
It is illustrated with carton drawings and Grandpa Campos is depicted as some sort of hideous creature.
Kidding of course, it is a kind of bird.
The second book is Honor Flight Houston: Flight 15. In September of 2017, Rachel organized an effort to get my Dad to go on one of those trips that take World War II and Korean War veterans to D.C. My sister Aida was in D.C., and she and Rachel accompanied my Dad to various museum sites. The book has photos of the veterans and one of my favorites is of my Dad seated next to a statue of FDR. Cool.
My Dad was a paratrooper in World War II. Airborne units are set up to drop paratroopers and equipment behind enemy lines. Think about that.
I asked my Dad years ago why he volunteered to be a paratrooper. He said it paid $50 more a month.
He was most proud of fighting in the Ardennes Region – Ardennes Forest in Belgium, the Battle of the Bulge.
After Germany surrendered in 1945, my Dad signed up to go to the Pacific Theater to fight the Japanese. Fortunately, Japan surrendered before my Dad shipped out.
The third book my Dad is in is titled Mexican American Odyssey. It is a biography of Felix Tijerina by Thomas Kreneck, a renowned scholar of Mexican American history. Felix was an early pioneer of Latino political activism in Houston. He was also the owner of Felix Mexican Restaurants in Houston.
Here is a quote on my Dad:
“Felix brought into his restaurant payroll full time a young LULAC activist and Baylor-educated teacher from Baytown named Tony Campos. He was hired to help Tijerina with business related duties as well as with LULAC affairs. …… Felix praised Campos’s efforts in the Texas Panhandle, where the latter traveled to Lubbock and Levelland promoting local membership drives among adults and LULAC-sponsored “Back to School” programs for youngsters. Most important, Campos helped Tijerina …. and the others begin to formulate their plans about educating pre-school Hispanic children.”
Those plans ended up being LULAC’s Little School of 400 that my Dad help organize. The School of 400 taught preschoolers lacking in English proficiency 400 basic English words.
The program was eventually adopted by the state of Texas. A few years later the Head Start Program was created with a component that coincidentally had the same approach to kids lacking in English proficiency as the School of 400.
In 2016, my Dad was recognized for his work on the School of 400 at Houston City Hall where they showed a short and old black and white documentary film about the school that listed my Dad in the credits. Very cool.
My Dad was also a long-time precinct judge who conducted elections. He ran for political office in Baytown and lost. He sued the City of Baytown for single member city council districts and won.
He twice served on a grand jury. After the 1978 Moody Park riots, three individuals were charged with inciting the riots. The three were dubbed the Moody Park 3. My Dad served as a juror at their trial.
My Dad’s civic involvement served as inspiration to our family.
We all vote. We are involved and give back to the community in some form.
I am in politics because of his involvement.
One of us has even run for office.
The fourth book my Dad is in is The Siete Table. It is a cookbook by my Siete family. Let me recognize Vero and Miguel – Linda, Rob, Becky, and of course Aida and Bobby for building such a highly successful family business.
Here is the Siete Table quote on my Dad.
“To our Grandpa Tony Campos – the epitome of strength, reliability, and selflessness.”
Selflessness is defined as concern more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own.
Let me pause a bit and thank my sister Sylvia, for deciding about eight years ago to move in to live with my Mom and Dad and help take care of their needs. Sylvia made sacrifices that I will forever be grateful. And her kids David – his son Jackson, Cristina and her husband Alex, and Enrique, for lovingly supporting their Mom and their Grandpa.
Let me thank Rachel, for the love, care, and kindness she showered upon her Grandpa. She and her husband and kids, Andy, Dante, Lucas, and Ace, provided him with affection and conversation that he cherished. Rachel went more than way beyond the extra miles those last couple of weeks of my Dad’s life.
To my sister Aida and her family, thank you for helping make your Dad’s final years more comfortable and safer. Your loving support, kindness, and generosity were very helpful to Dad and Sylvia. Certainly appreciated by me.
While I am at it, let me thank Aida’s oldest grandkid and my Dad’s oldest great grandchild Rebecca, for taking the cut at the first draft of his obituary that we all worked off.
In all our own ways, we all stepped up in my parents’ final years because we are all products of an environment, they created that nourished and shaped our family.
They raised our family through countless acts of selflessness.
The showered us with love. They gave us more than what they had.
We weren’t spoiled, only because they lacked the means to spoil us.
We had the best Christmases in the neighborhood.
Rachel and David went into detail about how wonderful and caring they were to their grandkids and great grandkids. Their retirement years were devoted to their grandkids and great grandkids.
Let me add this. When my niece Linda came to attend UH Law School, she got pregnant in her first year. She had the baby, and my parents help take care of little Rebecca so Linda could finish law school. A few months after Linda had her kid, Rachel gave birth to her first child. You got it. My parents also help take care of Dante so Rachel could work.
My place was often used as the drop off or hand off location for the kids. There were toddlers here for a couple or so years and I never complained or gave it a second thought. That is how our family ran.
The past five months were most difficult for Dad, and stressful to us.
Here is what I posted the other day:
Over the last few months, I shared with folks I know the health challenges my Dad was dealing with and how we were caring for him. Some folks told me that I was a “good son” for taking care of him. What are you supposed to do? Let your Dad go at it alone? Who does that? I guess some folks do. Not me. Not my family. I didn’t necessarily think I was a “good son.” I was just doing what I was bought up to do.
A loving and caring family. That is what my parents gave us and left us.
To my family: Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa are gone now. And it is up to all of us, to continue to support and love each other and build on what they created for us.
In good times and in bad.