A plaque, dedicated to Hispanic leaders in our community, which will recognize the contributions of Avelina Pina, Hillis Dominguez, Richard Dominguez, and Joe “Pepe” Zambrano, was dedicated Sunday March 8 adjacent to Veterans Memorial Park, next to Rockport Harbor.
(Note: The nameplates for the honorees will be placed on a circular bench at that location. It could not be accomplished March 8 because the circular bench was destroyed in a motor vehicle accident. The individual nameplates will be attached to the new bench when it is received.)
Rockport Mayor Pat Rios emceed the dedication, which was hosted by the Rockport Cultural Arts District (RCAD) and the History Center for Aransas County.
A short bio of each of the honorees was read. Only R. Dominguez is still living.
Rios gave a brief introduction before giving R. Dominquez the stage.
Dominguez was discharged from the Air Force in 1956, returning home with his own disabilities.
“It was evident I would have to be my own advocate,” he said. “I became that, for myself and every veteran who came knocking at my door seeking help.”
Beginning in 1969, the local G.I. Forum members, with the help of Dr. Hector Garcia, brought every Fallen Hero home in a caravan from Corpus Christi.
R. Dominguez has served the American G.I. Forum in every capacity beginning with District Commander in 1980.
“With every position, the ultimate goal has been to help our veterans and community,” he said.
“I can’t do too much now at 85. I’m asking you not to forget our veterans. I’m going to keep helping the best I can.”
Hillis Dominguez (1927-2002)
RCAD President Jennifer Day read Hillis Dominguez’s bio.
H. Dominguez was born in Corpus Christi. His family lived in Port O’Connor before moving to Rockport around 1934. He was owner/operator of Hillis Dominguez Bookkeeping Service, captain of a shrimp boat, owner of an electronic business, as well as a small grocery business.
He was active in the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Lions Club, BSA, and the Youth Support Group.
H. Dominguez served as an Aransas County Navigation District (ACND) commissioner from 1979 to 2001.
Joe “Pepe” Zambrano (1941-2009)
Rockport Mayor Pro-tem J.D. Villa read Joe “Pepe” Zambrano’s bio.
Zambrano was born in Monterrey and moved to Aransas Pass with his family when he was six years old. He served in the army and returned to Rockport.
He owned Mary’s Malt Shop on Austin Street, and later operated the Mexican Hacienda Restaurant at the same location. He also owned Pepe’s Bail Bonds.
He was very active in the community. When he was dared to run for city council, he did so and won in 1963. Zambrano served for 12 years, including a stint as Mayor Pro-tem.
He was the founding president of the Rockport chapter of the American G.I. Forum.
His children are Joe Pepe (Geneva) Zambrano Jr., Anna Marie Flores, Adrianne (Dan) McBurney, and Angelica (Brian) Gresnick.
Avelina Falcon Pina (1931-2015)
Villa read Avelina Falcon Pina’s bio.
She married Alfred Pina in 1947 and he relocated to her community of Rockport. With success in business and knowledge of the area, she moved into community service.
Pina served on the Rockport City Council from 1986 to 1988. She was elected ACND commissioner in 1988 and served until 1992.
In 1988, Pina was president of the Aransas County Historical Society.
It was noted, “Who can forget Pina’s Taco House?”
Her children are Alfred (Alice) Pina, Roy Lee (Carol) Pina, Diane P. (Fidel) Solis, Oscar (Janet) Pina, and Lionel Pina.
Villa noted work on this project was underway prior to Hurricane Harvey, but it was delayed in the storm’s aftermath.
The History Center for Aransas County (801 E. Cedar St.) is currently hosting an exhibit, “Hispanic Heritage in Aransas County.” It runs through May 3, with multiple events planned. Visit www.thehistorycenterforaransascounty.org to learn more.