June 25, 2019

John Salmon "Rip" Ford (1815-1897)

Rip Ford was born on May 26, 1815 in Greenville District, South Carolina, and moved to Texas in 1836. He served for a time in the Texas Army, and then settled in San Augustine to practice medicine until 1844. That year, he was elected to the Texas Congress, where he supported annexation to the United States. In 1845, he moved to Austin, and became a newspaper editor. He served as an adjutant in the Mexican War and was cited for “gallant service.” It was during this time that he would acquire his nickname of “Rip” for sending out official death notices with the citation “Rest in Peace” written at the top. In 1849, Ford would explore and map the country between El Paso and San Antonio. He would also become a captain in the Texas Rangers and participate in various fights with local Native American tribes. Ford was elected to the Texas Senate in 1852, and in 1858 he led state troops against both Native American and Mexican uprisings. With the growing tension between North and South escalating in 1861, Ford served as a member of the Secession Convention, and after Texas left the Union, he initiated a trade agreement between the Confederacy and Mexico. Ford served as colonel of the 2nd Texas Cavalry based in the Rio Grande district, and was assigned to protect trade routes with Mexico. Between 1862 and 1865, he was also commandant of conscripts.

Ford’s greatest military exploit was the Battle of Palmito Ranch on May 12-13, 1865, when he defeated attacking Union forces under Colonel Theodore H. Barrett. Barrett had attempted to surprise Confederate forces at Fort Brown, outside Brownsville, but was repulsed by Ford’s daring frontal attack. The battle was considered a Confederate victory, with Union troops retreating and suffering 118 casualties. Ford’s men had an estimated six killed, wounded or missing. Unfortunately for Ford, all Confederate forces in Texas surrendered two weeks later. After the war, Ford continued his interests in politics and newspaper editing, serving as a delegate to the Democratic convention in 1868, and working on the Brownsville Sentinel. He would become the mayor of Brownsville in 1874, and serve again in the Texas Senate from 1876 to 1879. In his later years, Ford would spend his time writing his memoirs and promoting an interest in Texas history through the Texas State Historical Association. Ford died on November 3, 1897 in San Antonio, having the dubious distinction of being the last victorious Confederate commander of the Civil War. Source

COORDINATES
29° 25.200
-098° 27.822


Confederate Cemetery
San Antonio

June 18, 2019

Selena Quintanilla-Perez (1971-1995)

Singer Selena Quintanilla-Perez, known simply as Selena, the daughter of Abraham and Marcella (Perez) Quintanilla, Jr., was born on April 16, 1971, in Lake Jackson, Texas. She married Christopher Perez, guitarist and member of the band Selena y Los Dinos (slang for "the Boys") on April 2, 1992. They had no children. Selena attended Oran M. Roberts Elementary School in Lake Jackson and West Oso Junior High in Corpus Christi, where she completed the eighth grade. In 1989 she finished high school through the American School, a correspondence school for artists, and enrolled at Pacific Western University in business administration correspondence courses.  Her career began when she was eight. From 1957 to 1971 her father played with Los Dinos, a Tejano band. He taught his children to sing and play in the family band and taught Selena to sing in Spanish. They performed at the family restaurant, Pappagallo, and at weddings in Lake Jackson. After 1981 the band became a professional act. In 1982 the group moved to Corpus Christi and played in rural dance halls and urban nightclubs, where Tejano music flourishes. In her late teens Selena adopted fashions sported by Madonna. Preceded by Lydia Mendoza and Chelo Silva, Mexican-American star vocalists of the 1930s, and by pioneer orchestra singer Laura Canales in the 1970s, Selena became a star in Tejano music. She won the Tejano Music Award for Female Entertainer of the Year in 1987, and eight other Tejano awards followed.

By the late 1980s Selena was known as "la Reina de la Onda Tejana" ("the Queen of Tejano music") and "una mujer del pueblo." Her popularity soared with annual awards from the Tejano Music Awards and a contract with EMI Latin Records in 1989. At the 1995 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the band attracted 61,041 people, more than Clint Black, George Strait, Vince Gill, or Reba McEntire. Selena y Los Dinos recorded with Tejano labels GP, Cara, Manny, and Freddie before 1989. Their albums include Alpha (1986), Dulce Amor (1988), Preciosa (1988), Selena y Los Dinos (1990), Ven Conmigo (1991), Entre a Mi Mundo (1992), Selena Live (1993), Amor Prohibido (1994), and Dreaming of You (1995). The band's popularity surged with Ven Conmigo. Entre a Mi Mundo made Selena the first Tejana to sell more than 300,000 albums. In 1993 she signed with SBK Records to produce an all-English album, but it was eventually replaced with the bilingual Dreaming of You. Despite her success in the Spanish-language market, mainstream society largely ignored Selena until around 1993. In 1994 Texas Monthly named her one of the twenty most influential Texans and the Los Angeles Times interviewed her. That same year, Selena Live won a Grammy for Best Mexican-American Album. Also in 1993 and 1995, Lo Nuestro Billboard gave the band awards in four categories. Selena y Los Dinos was a cross-over act in Tejano, romance, cumbia, tropical, pop, rap, and salsa in Spanish and English; Selena was not only bilingual but biethnic. Before her death, the band sold more than 1.5 million records.

By the mid-1980s Selena had crossed into the national Latino and Latin-American market. A recording with the Puerto Rican band Barrio Boyzz furthered inroads into this area. Selena y Los Dinos began to acquire a following in Mexico (Matamoros) as early as 1986. Along with Emilio Navaira, Selena y Los Dinos attracted 98,000 fans in Monterrey, and thus popularized Tejano music in Mexico. In 1994 the band played in New York to a Mexican and Central American audience. The band was the first Tejano group to make Billboard's Latin Top 200 list of all-time best-selling records. Selena was also known to Latin-American television audiences. At the age of twelve or thirteen she was introduced on the Johnny Canales Show. She appeared on Sábado Gigante, Siempre en Domingo, El Show de Cristina, and the soap opera Dos Mujeres, Un Camino. She also made a cameo appearance in the 1995 film Don Juan DeMarco. Advertisements also made Selena popular. Coca-Cola featured her in a poster, and she had a promotional tour agreement with the company. She had a six-figure contract with Dep Corporation and a contract with AT&T and Southwestern Bell. A six-figure deal with EMI Latin made her a millionaire. In 1992 she began her own clothing line. In 1994 she opened Selena Etc., a boutique-salon in Corpus Christi and San Antonio. At the time of her death she had plans to open others in Monterrey and Puerto Rico. A 1994 Hispanic magazine stated her worth at $5 million. Despite her wealth, however, she lived in the working-class district of Molina in Corpus Christi. Selena considered herself a public servant. She participated with the Texas Prevention Partnership, sponsored by the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (Dep Corporation) Tour to Schools, in an educational video. She was also involved with the D.A.R.E. program and worked with the Coastal Bend Aids Foundation. Her pro-education videos included My Music and Selena Agrees. She was scheduled for a Dallas-Fort Worth boys' and girls' club benefit. Selena taped a public-service announcement for the Houston Area Women's Center, a shelter for battered women, in 1993.

On March 31, 1995, Selena was shot fatally in the back by Yolanda Saldivar, her first fan club founder and manager of Selena Etc., in Corpus Christi. The New York Times covered her death with a front-page story, as did Texas major dailies. Six hundred persons attended her private Jehovah's Witness funeral. More than 30,000 viewed her casket at the Bayfront Plaza Convention Center in Corpus Christi. Hundreds of memorials and Masses were offered for her across the country; on April 16, for instance, a Mass was celebrated on her behalf at Our Lady Queen of Angels Church in Los Angeles. Her promotion agency, Rogers and Cowan, received more than 500 requests for information about her. Entertainment Tonight and Dateline NBC ran short stories on her, and People magazine sold a commemorative issue. Spanish-language television and radio sponsored numerous tributes, typically half-hour or hour programs. Selena's fans compared the catastrophe to the deaths of John Lennon, Elvis Presley, John F. Kennedy, and Pedro Infante. Songs, quilts, paintings, T-shirts, buttons, banners, posters, and shrines honored her. Radio talker Howard Stern of New York, however, snickered at her music and enraged her fans. Bo Corona, a disc jockey at a Houston Tejano radio station, asked him to apologize, and the League of United Latin American Citizens organized a boycott of his sponsors. Selena's death became part of the controversy over the Texas concealed-handgun bill. Her death also fostered greater awareness of Tejano music. According to superstar Little Joe, as a result of Selena's death "the word Tejano has been recognized by millions." Governor George W. Bush proclaimed April 16, 1995, "Selena Day." Selena's family founded the Selena Foundation.

Her bilingual album, Dreaming of You, was released posthumously in 1995 and was the first Tejano album to hit number one in the United States. Selena's killer, Yolanda Saldivar, was convicted by a Houston jury. In 2002 Nueces County Judge Jose Longoria ordered that the murder weapon, a .38-caliber revolver, be destroyed and its pieces scattered in Corpus Christi Bay. Some musicologists and fans felt that the gun should have been preserved in a museum for its historical significance, while others were glad to see the destruction of the instrument of the singer's death. In the years after Selena's death, the singer's popularity has remained very strong. Numerous honors have been awarded posthumously. The city of Corpus Christi erected a memorial, Mirador de la Flor (Overlook of the Flower), which included a life-sized bronze statue, to the fallen singer in 1997. That same year, a movie about her life - Selena - was released and starred newcomer Jennifer Lopez in the leading role. The Quintanilla family opened the Selena Museum in Corpus Christi in 1998, and in 2001 she was inducted into the Tejano R.O.O.T.S. Hall of Fame. She is also a member of the South Texas Music Walk of Fame. On April 7, 2005, a tribute concert Selena ¡VIVE! was broadcast live from Houston's Reliant Stadium. Attended by more than 65,000 fans, the event featured famous artists performing Selena's songs. The live broadcast on the Univision Network became the highest-rated Spanish-language program in American television history. In 2011 the United States Postal Service honored Selena as a “Latin Legend” with the issue of a memorial postage stamp. In April 2015 the city of Corpus Christi hosted the first annual Fiesta de la Flor, a two-day festival celebrating the life and legacy of the singer. A portion of the profits was donated to the Selena Foundation. Source

COORDINATES
27° 43.943
-097° 21.747

Living Lord Section
Seaside Memorial Cemetery
Corpus Christi

June 11, 2019

Preston Earnest Smith (1912-2003)

Preston Smith, businessman, legislator, and the fortieth governor of Texas, was born on March 8, 1912, in Williamson County. He was the son of Charles Kirby Smith and Effie Smith. One of thirteen children, he grew up in Williamson County until he was twelve, when his family moved to Lamesa in Dawson County, where he graduated from Lamesa High School in 1930. Smith attended and was graduated from Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University) with a bachelor of business arts degree in 1934. While in one of his college classes, he was seated alphabetically next to Ima Smith (no relation). Preston Smith and Ima Smith married in 1935. They had two children.  Smith became active in the movie theater business in Lubbock as well as real estate enterprises and developed the political name recognition he needed to win election in 1944 to the Texas House of Representatives. A conservative Democrat, Smith served three terms in the House and in 1956 was elected to the Texas Senate. In 1962, the same year that John B. Connally was elected governor, Smith was elected lieutenant governor.  In 1968, when Connally chose not to seek reelection, Smith sought and won the Democratic nomination for the governorship amongst a crowded field of candidates. Smith was known for his polka dot neckties, which he claimed he began wearing in 1962 after Gov. Price Daniel urged Smith to do something to help make himself stand out. During the 1968 gubernatorial campaign, Smith's campaign sent letters to approximately 47,000 Texas families named Smith and asked, "Don't you think it is about time one of us was governor?" Known for his relentless work ethic and corny sense of humor, Smith was the first lieutenant governor to be directly elected to the governorship and the first West Texan to be elected.

He was inaugurated as governor on January 16, 1969, and was re-elected to a second term in 1970. During his first term, Smith focused on education issues, including a ten-year pay raise program for teachers. His administration also submitted a state water plan, which failed to pass. Smith's governorship in his second term was tainted by the Sharpstown stock-fraud scandal, which initially focused on charges that state officials profited from certain business deals in exchange for the passage of legislation favored by Houston developer Frank Sharp. Though Smith was never charged with a crime, he was "labeled an unindicted co-conspirator," and the scandal grew to such proportions that Texas voters were in an anti-incumbent mood. Smith ran and lost in the 1972 Democratic primary to Dolph Briscoe, Jr. of Uvalde, who would go on to win the general election and be sworn in as Smith's successor in January, 1973. Smith unsuccessfully attempted a comeback in 1978 and retired from politics. After his political career ended, Smith retired to Lubbock. He remained active in local business and civic affairs and worked as a fundraiser for Texas Tech University. His papers are in the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library at the university library. (As governor he had signed into law the legislation that established the Texas Tech University School of Medicine.) In 1981 Gov. William Clements appointed him to the Texas College and University Coordinating Board, where he served as chairman until 1985. Texas Tech University honored Smith by erecting a statue of him in the Administration Building courtyard on the campus. Smith died from pneumonia at Texas Tech University Medical Center in Lubbock on October 18, 2003, at the age of ninety-one. His wife Ima had died in 1998. He was survived by a son, a daughter, and their respective families. Smith was buried in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin. The city of Lubbock honored Smith by renaming its airport the Preston Smith International Airport in 2004. Source

COORDINATES
30° 15.932
-097° 43.635

Republic Hill
Texas State Cemetery
Austin

June 4, 2019

Richard Henry "Dickey" Kerr (1893-1963)

Dickey Kerr was a starting pitcher for the Chicago White Sox from 1919-1921. As a rookie, he won 13 games and both his starts in the 1919 World Series, which would lead to the permanent suspensions of eight of his teammates in the Black Sox Scandal. In later years, Kerr would receive praise for his honest play during the Series. In 1921, he went 19-17 and led the league in giving up only 357 hits in 3082 innings pitched. After the season, he was suspended for violating the reserve clause in his contract. Kerr attempted a comeback in 1925, pitching in 12 games and compiling a record of 0-1 in 362 innings, mostly out of the bullpen. He finished his career with a record of 53 wins against 34 losses for a winning percentage of .609. His career ERA over three-plus seasons was 3.84. After his playing days, Kerr became a baseball coach at Rice University and minor league manager for the Daytona Beach Islanders, where he met and became close friends with future Hall of Famer Stan Musial. Kerr died of cancer in Houston on May 4, 1963, just two months shy of his 70th birthday.

COORDINATES
29° 42.708
-095° 18.305

Section 29
Forest Park Lawndale Cemetery
Houston