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Ofelia Trinidad Buitron Vasquez-Philo ’78

Ofelia Trinidad Buitron Vasquez-Philo ’78 died peacefully on November 1, 2017 at the age of 84, from complications after suffering a series of strokes over a six-month period. She was born December 28, 1932 in Seguin, Guadalupe County, Texas, and was the oldest of 9 surviving children.

She grew up on Freeman Ranch, in Wimberley, Tx., where her father was the ranch foreman. She married Joe Vasquez, Jr. in 1950 and they raised 7 children in San Marcos. After Joe's death in 1986, she married Harry Philo. She always possessed a love of learning, which she imparted to all her children and all those she knew. Ofelia worked part-time in 1966 at the Office of Community Action. In 1970, she became executive director, a position she would hold until her retirement in 1993. During this period, she obtained her GED certificate, and her bachelor's degree from Antioch College, Austin campus in 1978.

She was the first Latina to serve on the San Marcos Independent School Board from 1969-1971. She was a charter member of the San Marcos Heritage Foundation, and a member of the Hays County Historical Commission, the San Marcos League of Women Voters, the Hijas de Maria, the Archicofradia of St. John's Catholic Church, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Finance Council and the Bereavement Ministry of St John's Catholic Church. She also worked for the preservation of Hispanic cemeteries and served on numerous other city and county boards and commissions.

She received numerous awards and recognitions from dozens of associations-too many to name - but some include the Trailblazer Award for Hays County, the Light of the World Award from Bishop Gregory Aymond in 2005. She was presented the Premio Letras de Aztlan Award from the National Association of Chicana & Chicano Studies in 2012 because of her significant contributions to the betterment of the Mexican American community in Texas.

She is co-author of Suenos y Recuerdos del Pasado, an historical account of the Hispanic settlers of San Marcos, Texas. She was loved and respected by her family and by numerous members of the community.

She was particularly committed to educational endeavors and contributed a lifetime of devotion to community involvement including as advocate for the Hispanic community and its rich heritage. Never one to rest, she always seemed to be working on her next project, and encouraged others to do the same.

She was a co-founder of Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos. The museum section of Centro is named after her. Centro actualized her vision to preserve, develop, promote and celebrate Hispanic arts, culture, heritage and values. The Centro's programs and educational curriculum include the areas of visual arts, dance, theatre, music, literature, multi-media and the culinary arts, available throughout the year.

She was a highly social person, and enjoyed attending quinceaneras, weddings, and celebrations of any kind. She enjoyed gardening and as a world traveler, visited numerous countries, e.g. Cuba, Russia, including many in Southeast Asia, Europe, and South America. She was preceded in death by: her parents, Fernando and Rosa Trinidad; her husband Joe Vasquez, Jr; second husband, Harry Philo; grandson Joseph Edward Villalpando; brothers, Jake Trinidad and Simon Trinidad; and most recently, her youngest sister, Isabel Garcia. She is survived by her children and their families: Melba Vasquez (Jim Miller), Austin; Norma Martinez (Joel Martinez), McAllen; Gilbert Vasquez (Cris Vasquez), New Braunsfels; Rachel Vasquez, Austin; Josie Villalpando (Mario Villalpando), Rogers, Ark.; Oscar Vasquez (Rhonda Vasquez), Corpus Christi; Rosalba Merchant (Joe Merchant), San Marcos; Stepson Ron Philo (Anne LeMaistre), Austin; 17 grandchildren; and 12 great grandchildren. Her surviving sisters include Ruth Ferrer, Alice Hurtado, Francis Sierra, Emma Trinidad, Rosa Martinez, sisters-in-law Irene Trinidad, Amelia Trinidad, Lily Ruiz, Susie Molina, many cousins, nieces, nephews, and countless dear friends and colleagues.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Centro Cultural Hispano de San Marcos. She had a knack for enticing contributors and volunteers, so don't forget to volunteer at Centro or engage in any other worthy endeavor of your choice.

Funeral arrangements were under the direction of Thomason Funeral Home and were November 6, and a wake followed at St. John's Catholic Church. Internment at San Marcos Cemetery.