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South Texas Living

Reminiscing: A grand celebration and love story to remember

Reminiscing: A grand celebration and love story to remember
Virginia’s 90th birthday celebration

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March 14, 2012
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It was a grand celebration! The honoree rode in a horse-drawn carriage from her house in San Antonio to St. Leonard’s Church for a Mass in her honor. It was in honor of her 90th birthday, which she had observed four days earlier. Later, a reception and dinner were held at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church parish hall in Elmendorf. In the evening, she was honored with a Daughters of the Republic of Texas presentation as a new member. She had been nominated and accepted as a member of the organization in October 2010. (In the 1860s, Virginia’s great-grandmother, Margarita Diaz, had been awarded a first class Headright certificate by the Republic of Texas for 1 league, 4428 acres, and 1 labor, 177 acres of land.)

The celebration, beautifully organized by her children and extended family, was held on March 19, 2011. There was a lot of music throughout the afternoon and evening. Guests were treated to a video of memorable events in her life. The celebration culminated with a dance. Now Virginia has reached another milestone. The Lord has blessed her with another year of life.

Virginia Barcenez Rios was born March 15, 1921 to Pedro and Inez Serenil Barcenez in Waelder, Texas. Her siblings were Hipolito “Poley,” Margarito “Pete,” and Lucy. She attended grammar schools in Waelder, Gonzales, and Nixon. She moved with her parents to Floresville when she was 13. She met her future husband, Inocencio Rios Jr., who lived in Poth, when he would come to the movies in Floresville. She remembers how handsome he looked in black pants, white shirt, and “chanclas blancas” (her words). He swept her off her feet and at the age of 15, she eloped with him. He was 19. They were married Oct. 1, 1936. Three months later, “Chencho,” which was his nickname for most of his life, had a very serious accident. He nearly lost his life. While in the hospital, a priest visited him and married him and Virginia, validating their civil wedding ceremony in the eyes of the church.

Virginia was a stay-at-home wife, raising five of their six children -- Louis, (Dolores), Gloria, Dora, Rudy, and Roland. She was very involved in the PTA at the Lodi School where their older children attended school. She served at one time as vice president of the PTA.

Virginia sold Avon to help supplement her husband’s income.

In 1948, her husband moved the family to San Antonio to be closer to his job. Dolores remained with his maternal grandparents. When he was born, his uncles, Pete and Poley, were serving overseas during World War II. Their parents worried a lot, especially after they learned that Pete had been taken as a prisoner of war. Virginia would let them take care of the baby to help them keep their mind off the situation with their sons. By the grace of God, both returned home after the war. Dolores tried to live with his parents in San Antonio, but after one year, he came back to his grandparents. He graduated from Floresville High School in 1960.

Virginia again got involved in the schools in San Antonio, especially in the PTA. She again took up selling Avon. Her son Louis said he was the delivery boy, delivering her products to her customers on a bicycle. Virginia was also very involved with her parish church, St. Leonard’s, and enjoyed attending a women’s ACTS retreat. Her sons Louis, Rudy, and Roland are very involved with the ACTS movement.

Virginia and Chencho were very popular. They were padrinos at many a wedding and would lead the marches at the dances. They loved dancing and were very good at it.

Virginia says she and her husband enjoyed traveling and went many places. She also enjoyed camping trips to Garner State Park with Louis and his family.

Virginia and Chencho celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in October 1986. She lost the love of her life on Oct. 10, 1988. Theirs was one of those “till death do us part” unions.

Virginia’s family keeps growing. To date there are, besides her six children, 20 grandchildren, 54 great-grandchildren, and 38 great-great-grandchildren.

Virginia is blessed with good health, good hearing, a very good mind, and a very loving family. Bendiciones, Virginia.

Julia Castro, a retired Head Start teacher and mother of 10, lives in Floresville with her husband, Henry.

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