Ronnie Zamora Sr., the recently retired public relations coordinator for the Los Fresnos school district, former sports information director for UTB-TSC, beloved sports announcer and longtime reporter and editor, has died.
Zamora, 67, died overnight surrounded by his family after battling multiple myeloma cancer and other health issues since August, his wife Yolanda Zamora said. She said Zamora was engaged until the end, answering phone calls and texts from friends, some from the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame in which he was active, asking advice on how to do things.
“I’m learning a lot of things about things he gave to people, things he did for people. I’m just glad he’s not in pain anymore,” Yolanda Zamora said late Thursday morning. “He’s going to be very missed. I don’t know what I’m going to do without him. It’s so hard, but he touched so many lives. … I also want to say thank you to all his friends. They’ve been so generous, so kind, always calling me. Even when he couldn’t respond he was getting phone calls and text messages … and finally he just couldn’t do it any more.”
Zamora also said the family had been receiving “food, gift cards, always, when we were in Houston (at the MD Anderson Cancer Center) and here. I’m just amazed how many people this man touched.” She also said that in his final days her husband had helped plan his own funeral, to the point of helping his daughters Juli Zamora Rivers and Laura Zamora write his obituary and calling the funeral home to tell them to be ready.
“Who does that? Who calls the funeral home on themself? He just didn’t want me to worry about anything,” Yolanda Zamora said.
Ronnie Zamora started a 50-year career in journalism as a sports writer at The Brownsville Herald while still in high school. He put himself through Texas Southmost College working as sports editor at The Herald, and met his wife while covering a baseball game in 1973 while she was a senior in high school, she said.
After graduation from TSC, Zamora headed to the University of Texas at Austin in 1975, enrolled in the journalism program and worked on the side as a sports reporter at the Daily Texan. By his senior year he took an opportunity not assigned to him and ended up writing a retirement article about the legendary UT football coach Darrell K. Royal that landed him on the front page of sports and before long as the Texan sports editor.
After graduation, Zamora went to work as sports editor of the Valley Morning Star, and worked for two years as a sports writer for the San Antonio Light before moving the family back to Brownsville. The Herald hired him as sports editor and he also served as managing editor, leaving in 1986 to become the public information officer for the Brownsville Independent School District.
In 1992, then-Texas Southmost College President Juliet Garcia hired Zamora to be part of the transition team when the University of Texas at Brownsville and Texas Southmost College was being created. Zamora worked at UTB-TSC through its separation in 2010-2011 into TSC and what became the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
In 2012, Zamora went to work for the Los Fresnos Consolidated Independent School District as public relations coordinator, where he worked until his retirement last month.
Zamora served in many roles for which people remember him. He broadcast high school football games on KBOR for eight years and was the public address announcer for football games at Sam’s Memorial Stadium for 16 years beginning in 1986. He played in city softball leagues in Austin and Brownsville as a pitcher for 18 years. In 1988, he joined the Border Fantasy Football League and went on to spend 33 years in that same league, including serving as commissioner for 15 years.
He was also active in the Rio Grande Valley Sports Hall of Fame, serving as master of ceremonies for inductions for 25 years and being inducted into membership himself in 2011.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Manuel and Maria Zamora. He is survived by his wife, Yolanda, and three children: daughter Julianna Zamora Rivers (William) of Austin; son Ronnie Zamora, Jr. (Sarah) of Brownsville and daughter Laura Zamora of Dallas; as well as his three grandchildren: Michael and Sofia Zamora of Brownsville and Tillman Rivers of Austin.
Funeral arrangements are pending through Sunset Memorial Funeral Home.