The Bearing Witness Initiative is led by CEO Francisco Guajardo, Ph.D, and interim Assistant Development Officer/Archival Assistant Melissa Peña.

Much like the rest of the nation, Valley families are reeling having lost 3,000 local souls and counting. People who’ve succumbed to this deadly disease have left voids in their families’ lives, and in their communities. Left are their legacies, waiting to be told by their loved ones. For the Museum of South Texas History, the virus hit too close to home when one of their own, Sandra Luna, fell ill with the virus and died on July 12.

Michael Rodriguez

Deputy Editor, The Monitor

Garcia was the quintessential South Texan. Born and raised in La Reforma, Nuevo Leon, he came to Texas in 1974, wide-eyed and intent on making a good life. After a stint in the oil industry in Houston, he settled in the Rio Grande Valley, and on a tip from an acquaintance, bought a junk yard east of Edinburg.
Francisco Guajardo, Ph.D.

Chief Executive Officer, Museum of South Texas History

Even though Tola did not attain formal schooling while growing up in the rural village of Nueva Apolonia, on the southern edge of Tamaulipas, Mexico, Joe described her as one of the smartest people he’s ever known.
Francisco Guajardo, Ph.D.

Chief Executive Officer, Museum of South Texas History

College life presented Luis with unique challenges. His siblings had since moved out, and Felix, his father, became too sick to work, leaving Luis with the responsibility as sole bread winner of the family. Throughout college, he worked 70 hours a week at the H-E-B in Elsa, carried a full college load, while hitchhiking every day to and from Pan Am. Though tempted to quit college many times, especially when his father died, Luis knew that continuing college would be the best way to honor him.

Araceli & Genie Garay

When Daría was 19, she worked as a melon picker, earning 40 cents an hour to pick cantaloupes, a wage much lower than what other laborers earned. Daría did not like that, and she did not like the fact there were no bathrooms available to women working in the fields, nor was there running water, or access to other basic laborer necessities.

Francisco Guajardo, Ph. D.

Chief Executive Officer, Museum of South Texas History

On the east side of the city of Edinburg, behind Albores Courts, the small frame house where Freddy lived and died stands as a testament to his life—one of family love, motherly devotion and dedicated service.

Eva Tristán Torres

Guadalupe “Lupita” Alanís and her husband José Luis celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Aug. 23, while interned as COVID-19 patients at McAllen Medical Center. They could not be together, because of virus-related protocols, but José Luis asked his children to play the song “Mi Linda Esposa” to his wife to celebrate their 50-year commitment to each other.

Francisco Guajardo, Ph. D.

Chief Executive Officer, Museum of South Texas History

Before they carted her off to the COVID-19 unit, Eli asked, “What are you thinking about, mother?” She responded, “I’m just worried. I’m worried about my kids.” And they exchanged their last words, “I love you.” That was the last time Eli and Graciela spoke.

Francisco Guajardo, Ph. D.

Chief Executive Officer, Museum of South Texas History