By CELESTE LOPEZ
Special to the NEWS
His passion for conjunto music and his dedication to preserving the history of the genre have made Rey Avila, Sr. a well-known and widely loved member of the community.
Avila was born and raised in San Benito, Texas. He and Aurora, his wife of 54 years, have five children.
His daughter, Patty Avila, recalls his lively descriptions of how conjunto musicians held their instruments and the meaning of the songs they listened to while they drove to visit family in Mexico.
Those passionate recitations of conjunto music history and descriptions of legendary musicians are well known to visitors from all over the world who visit the Texas Conjunto Hall of Fame and Museum.
“Rey has always been willing to share stories and the history about the inducted musicians and their music,” Patty said.
In 2001, the museum was established after Avila and museum board members felt the need to preserve, archive, and display artifacts and pictures in an effort to promote regional music in San Benito (the place they described as the “Home of Conjunto”).
His volunteer work at the museum has all been to promote the Texas Conjunto Hall of Fame and Museum through community outreach. Avila has often spearheaded events like the annual fundraiser for scholarships “Noche de Ronda.” This event ensures that all seniors in the San Benito High School Conjunto Estrella Band are awarded an academic scholarship if they wish to attend a college or university.
Avila is an avid Greyhound fan and supports many of the school’s teams and organizations. A former Greyhound himself, Avila is a football season ticket holder and is often seen at his grandchildren’s events.
After his diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in April, Avila still worked to hold the Annual Conjunto Hall of Fame and Museum Induction Award Ceremony in June.
“He worked diligently and with the help of his board members, family, and trusted business leaders the event was a success,” Patty said.