By DAVID LOPEZ
San Benito lost a community figure this week after Elida Salinas Villareal, 99, passed away Tuesday. She was easy to spot at any Greyhound football game or Lady’ Hound softball game, where many referred to her as “grandma.”
San Benito CISD School Board President Orlando “Papas” Lopez is Villareal’s grandson. He spoke of her good nature and encouraging presence.
“My grandma was an inspiration to us all,” he said. “She was a single parent and always encouraged us to be good stewards. She pushed sports on us, so all of my cousins played a sport. She was an amazing soul, always very supportive, continuously checking up on people, making sure everybody was doing well.”
SBCISD Director of Student Services Ray Saldaña, Villarreal’s oldest grandson, spoke of his grandmother as a kind woman who bled purple and gold and touched countless lives.
“As I got to spend more time with her in the past 15 years, I wanted to find out what she and our family was about, so I would ask her all kinds of questions, and I would hear all these stories,” he recalled.
One of the stories she would talk about, Saldaña said, was of her participation in the “Mothers’ March” in the 1950s, where a group of women would go door-to-door raising money to eradicate polio.
Saldaña also told of how, in the 1930s, Villarreal played in a woman’s softball team, where the ladies would travel and play all across South Texas. She said that particular competition is what was began her competitiveness and pride in San Benito.
In 2013, Villarreal was voted number one Greyhound fan in the San Benito News’ “Hooked on Hounds” fan contest.
“Everywhere she went, people knew her. Her personality and kindness were contagious,” Saldaña said. “She was a true American and took a lot of pride in that.”
Editor’s note: This article has been edited for length. To read the full story, click here or grab a copy of the Aug. 21– 27, 2020 issue of the NEWS.