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Gertrude Thomae King

Gertrude Thomae King

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June 19, 2013
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Gertrude Thomae King, 96, whose ancestry is written on the pages of Texas history, died of natural causes on Wednesday, May 1, 2013, in Pearland, Texas, surrounded by her loving family. This Daughter of Texas was born in San Antonio on Oct. 21, 1916.

Gertrude was a Daughter of the Republic of Texas and the great-great-granddaughter of Texas Revolutionary hero Erastus “Deaf” Smith. From her mother, Gertrude Yndo Thomae, she inherited her deep Spanish roots. Her ancestors, the original Canary Island Settlers of San Antonio, were sent to Texas by the King of Spain in the early 1700s. Her great-great-grandfather, Don Miguel Yndo, received a Spanish Land Grant in Wilson County and established the historic Yndo Ranch in 1833. It was one of the first in 1964 to be designated by Gov. John Connally as a Century Ranch. Today the original Wilson County homestead, near Floresville, owned by the Family of Albert Thomae, proudly bears a State Historical Marker Medallion. It is the happy site of many generations of beautiful memories and family traditions.

From her father, Adalberto Carlos Thomae, comes her German lineage. Her great-grandfather, Carl Wilhelm Thomae, a German immigrant, was one of the Founding Fathers of New Braunfels, Texas, and its first Postmaster in 1846. During the Civil War, the Thomae family, who opposed slavery, departed New Braunfels by oxen cart to re-establish their grist mill in San Buenaventura, Mexico. In the early 1900s, as a student, Adalberto headed north to Texas for his formal education. There he met and married Gertrude Yndo of San Antonio and Floresville.

She was raised mostly in Floresville and in Piedras Negras, Mexico, where in 1933, she was crowned the first Queen of the Marti Gras. Gertrude “La Guera” was a glamorous green-eyed beauty with great charisma and an irresistible smile. Her first marriage in 1937 was to Felix Chapa II (deceased) of San Antonio. During World War II she married Robert R. King (deceased) of Buffalo, N.Y. The growing family resided in San Antonio until the late ’50s, when they moved to California. Gertrude returned to Texas 10 years later to be near her family in San Antonio and in Houston.

As a young homemaker she was an active member of The Delphian Society of San Antonio, which promoted the education of women through group work and study of history, drama, art, literature, poetry, and music. In the 1990s she was a member of the Fort Settlement Chapter of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas in Richmond. It is where today on the courthouse grounds stands a statue honoring her great-great-grandfather “Deaf” Smith, who served as a scout and spy to Gen. Sam Houston and fought at the Battle of San Jacinto.

Gertrude’s joyous positive spirit, her colorful personal style, her endearing love of people, her generous nature, and her lifelong friendships, plus her deep Catholic faith, formed her strong character for more than 96 rewarding and blessed years. She was the beloved matriarch and heart of a close-knit family and will be greatly missed, but her legacy and love live on.

Gertrude “Mema” is survived by a large and loving family: son Felix Chapa III of Falls Church, Va.; daughters Linda King Seto and Bobbet King Olsen; grandchildren Gregory Seto, Warren Cross III, Michelle Seto Kloesel, and Melissa Cross Bowling; and great-grandchildren Laura Kay, Patrick, and Robert Seto, Morgan and Max Kloesel, Lauren, Reed, and Alex Cross, and Jack and Grace Bowling, all from the Houston/Pearland area.

A memorial service and reception to celebrate her life will be held on Monday, July 1, at noon in the St. Pius X Catholic Church in San Antonio.

Her ashes will be interred in a private family service in the Mission Park Cemetery in San Antonio.

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