MISSION — The City of Mission honored the late Oton “Tony” Guerrero Jr. with a memorial street dedication ceremony Wednesday.
Guerrero was known for his community involvement, including serving as the first Hispanic principal of a Mission public school. He had been a professor at the University of Texas-Pan American, and head coach for the UTPA Bronc Golf team before becoming Assistant Athletic Director at UTPA until his retirement in 1997.
City officials knew right away they wanted to honor Guerrero after his passing last January.
“We decided about an hour after he passed,” said Mayor Armando O’Caña.
O’Caña spoke at the street dedication ceremony, where he felt a mixture of feelings.
“I was saddened, but I was very happy that being a mayor, that I had the opportunity to honor him and honor his family with the naming of the street,” he said. “It’s a small token of appreciation that we can do from a public standpoint, to honor somebody that has helped tremendously the citizens of Mission.”
O’Caña recalls how Guerrero would always have a smile on his face and would help his family complete the census when O’Caña was younger.
“He would go by our house in south Mission and sit down in the kitchen and do the census with my parents, and I remember him from that also,” O’Caña said.
Guerrero’s son, Oton Joaquin, was “humbled” that his father had been honored.
“It’s such a positive thing to do for my dad,” said Oton Joaquin. “My dad would never have asked for it.”
Oton Joaquin is Guerrero’s only son out of six children.
Other speakers at the ceremony included Father Roy from Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church and City Manager Randy Perez.
The street is at the corner of First and Mayberry, where Guerrero had left many memories.
“He was the principal of the Citriana Elementary school before it became Castro, and then he built his house at Mayberry,” Oton Joaquin said.
Students remember him fondly as the principal who gave them belts and helped them get a haircut or shoes, his son added.
Additionally, the street intersects with Kika Loop, named after Kika de la Garza, and Tom Landry Boulevard. The three men had been friends and had played high school football together in 1941.
“The corner intersects three legacies, of three different types of legacies, that built Mission back in the ‘30s and ‘40s and ‘50s,” the mayor said.
Not only was he also a veteran, but Guerrero had served in many communities and programs, including the City of Mission’s Community Development Block Grant Program, was a fourth-degree member of the Knights of Columbus, a member of the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame and more.
Oton Joaquin, a chairman of the Parks and Recreation Board, is thankful that his father was honored by the city he had loved.
“I just thank the City of Mission, Dr. O’Caña, the city commission for making that day possible for my family,” he said.