CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — After the passing of San Patricio Precinct 5 Constable Valdemar "Valde" Ramirez, the community of Mathis named a parade in his name.
It was quite a different kind of parade in Mathis Tuesday evening. There was no cheering or horns blaring, just reflection on the life of Ramirez.
“He brought a smile to everybody. There wasn’t anybody that he just didn’t know because if he didn’t know you, he would go up to you and start talking to you,” Mathis Mayor Ciri Villarreal said.
78-year-old Ramirez died on Friday from lung cancer.
As constable, he spent much of his time in Judge Nere Villarreal's courtroom, the Precinct 5 Justice of the Peace.
“He was always happy, happy, happy," Nere said. "He’d walk into our office…good morning and walk in with tacos walk in with sweet bread, just, just—and it didn’t matter if we were going to have a long day of all-day court, he was happy.”
Ramirez’s sister Minerva said throughout Valde’s life, he couldn’t stop helping people. He started when he dropped out of school in sixth grade to help his family, while his father battled tuberculosis.
"When dad was in the hospital, from time to time, he would take mother to go see my dad or take mother to go do errands," Minerva said. So, he learned to work at a very young age."
Then he started a job at convenience stores, Mathis Police Department, and as a volunteer with Mathis Fire Department.
“When he retired from the police department he started working full-time for the school district. When he retired from the school district he got a job as a bailiff," Minerva said.
Valde worked for Mathis Independent School District initially as a handyman, said Minerva. Then he became a truancy officer.
“He saw kids doing something they weren’t supposed to and he wouldn’t just go and jump on them and arrest them or whatever. He’d go up and he’d stop them, give them advice, tell them, look I’m going to give you a chance, you go home right now" Ciri said. "But that's just old school. That’s the way he was because he wanted to make the community better.”
"We had truancy court pretty often and he would be the first to give these kids advice, what he went through, how he got his GED and went into law enforcement. He'd always give them advice. He would go to their home and pick them up and take them to school," Nere added.
His good deeds never stopped there. Minerva learned that Valde had been donating money to St. Jude Children's Hospital, donating to a church in another city on top of helping out his own church in Mathis during fundraisers.
"He would find out that there was somebody in our community that had died and they didn't have all the money to pay for the funeral," Minerva said. "He would not hesitate to get out his checkbook."
Minerva said he also had a softer side. He was mischievous as a child transforming into being the funniest in the room even towards the end.
“We went and got a walker and we would help him to get up. And he was so funny because he'd get up—First, he would say, oh thank you Lord for another day, thank you, Lord. And then, when he would get up he would start singing and moving around a little bit. On the road again! He was so funny,” she laughed.
He was also the caring friend people wanted to be around.
Everyone at his memorial parade had a story to tell about Valde.
Valde had three brothers, eight sisters, one son, and nine grandchildren. His wife and one other son died earlier in his life.
Minerva said Valde loved to watch Western movies or listen to the radio. He was always up for a good road trip, especially if it meant traveling to go see family.
"If he was able to succeed anybody else can if they're willing to work hard, they're willing to continue their education and they're willing to work with people from all ages and all backgrounds.
Speaking to the crowd at the parade Ciri said Valde will be missed, but not forgotten.
"He was just a wonderful man, wonderful. Precinct 5 will never be the same," said Nere.
The public viewing is Wednesday at Dobie Funeral Home in Mathis from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. The rosary takes place at 7 p.m. Valde's funeral service is Thursday, 10 a.m. at Mathis Catholic Church.
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