Maria Magdalena Campos Lara, “Nena,” passed away on January 23, 2020 at the age of 90. She was born June 3, 1929 in New Braunfels, Texas to Manuel Campos and Maria Louisa Gaytan.
At age 2, after her father was unable to find work locally, Nena and her family returned to Mexico, to assist her grandfather, Atanacio Campos, in working his fields. At age 9, she was working as a housekeeper and nanny to help support her family. At age 12, she lost her father. She and her brother, Manuel, returned to New Braunfels, where she eventually found work at the Comal Sanitarium, the local hospital, as a housekeeper.
At age 17, she began corresponding with a young soldier stationed in Germany, Agapito “Pico” Lara, the relationship blossomed and he asked for her hand in marriage. He returned home with $300 in his pocket, enough to pay for a wedding.
They were married on New Year’s Day, Jan 1, 1947 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help church, with a reception and dance held at the Comal Fair Grounds. That evening, at the end on the wedding celebration with only $5.10 left in his pocket, he had to pay up for the hall, leaving them only ten cents. The following morning, they bought two ice cream cones for a nickel a piece and literally started their married life with not one cent to their name.
So began their love story.
Nena was a very strong woman, a very hard worker, wonderful mom and an awesome life and business partner to Pico. She worked at Mission Valley Textile Mill for many years. After raising 5 kids, she left the mill. Pico retired from thirty plus years in Civil Service and they opened a business together, “Lara’s Small Engine Repair”.
Pico worked on the riding mowers, Nena did all the tune ups and maintenance of the push mowers. There was nothing too difficult for her. We thought of her as the Hispanic female Macgyver. With two sticks and a rubber band, this woman could sew a wedding dress, upholster a sofa, cook a meal, repair a weed-eater, keep an immaculate lawn, paint a house, do remodeling, all while carrying a kid on her hip and rolling out tortillas.
Nena never had a formal education, completing only the second grade, but there is no doubt that given the opportunity and education, she could have been a fantastic engineer.
After selling the business, Nena and Pico officially retired and had time to travel. They visited Italy, Greece, Canada, New England, Mexico, Colorado, Ohio and shared experiences that early in their lives they could only dream of.
Nena never spoke English to Pico. But near the end of her life, one morning he bent over to kiss her forehead, she opened her eyes. One of her last audible words to him were, “thank you, thank you… thank you for a wonderful marriage.” What an awesome summation of her life. Her life was a living example of the legacy she leaves. One of love of family, commitment to marriage and a work ethic that is second to none.
A very special thank you to Hope Hospice staff, Angela Ochoa, RN, CNAs, Gracie Sosa, Maria Castro and social worker, Sonya Brown, LMSW.
Nena is preceded in death by her mother Maria Louisa Garza; father, Manuel Campos; brother, Manuel Campos Jr. She is survived by her husband of 73 years, Agapito Lara; daughters, Sylvia Morales and husband, Ruben Sanchez, Irma Lara, Dora Gonzales and husband Louis, Olga Lara and son, Rene Lara and wife Grace; 9 Grandchildren; 8 great-grand-children and 2 great-great grandchildren.
A visitation will be held at the Lux Funeral Home Chapel from 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM on Monday, January 27, 2020 with the Holy Rosary being recited at 7:00 PM. A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10:00 AM on Tuesday, January 28, 2020 at Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church. A procession will follow to Comal Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made to Hope Hospice. To leave a message for the family, please visit www.luxfhcares.com/obituaries