Angel Noe Gonzalez
November 18, 1929 – April 4, 2019
Angel Noe Gonzalez took his rest Thursday morning, April 4, 2019. He was home, surrounded by family and loved ones. It is nearly impossible to overstate his dedication to, and the important role he played in the education of children; especially to bilingual and Mexican American children in the state of Texas. Over his storied career in education, Angel was a teacher, coach, principal, Assistant Superintendent (Dallas Public Schools and Houston ISD), Superintendent (Crystal City ISD), Director of Multilingual Programs (Oakland Unified School District and Dallas Public Schools), Chief Consultant for the TEA, and Branch Chief for Program Operations in the Office of Bilingual Ed for the US Office of Education. Perhaps, however, the best professional title we can use to define Angel is Educator—at every level, in every position, in every community in which he served. He truly was an educator of rare commitment and drive, one with an amazing dedication to creating an equal educational opportunity for all students in Texas.
After being a standout athlete at Mercedes High School, Angel turned his talent for basketball and football into a scholarship opportunity at Edinburg Junior College, which eventually allowed him to transfer to the University of Texas at Austin, where he took his Bachelor of Science Degree in 1952. From there, he began serving in some of the poorest school districts in South Texas, such as Relampago and La Grulla, next finding his way to Harlingen. Continuing his graduate education, Angel earned his Administrative Certificate and his Superintendent Certificate. After completing his Master of Education degree at Sam Houston State University in 1967, Angel began taking administrative posts in Harlingen, and then a position at the Texas Education Agency.
Eventually, despite offers from the Department of Education, and from Dallas ISD (who wanted to make him the first Mexican American principal/administrator in Dallas), Angel received a call from Jose Angel Gutierrez that would change his life, and indeed, alter the progression of Mexican American/Chicano students across the state. That call at 2:00am was an offer to be the Superintendent of Crystal City ISD, a school that had seen student protests and walkouts, and a community that was deeply divided in terms of the educational opportunities provided to Mexican American students versus white students. Although the hiring took place only two weeks before the school year was to begin, Angel took the job and referred to it later as the four-year “Education Revolution”, one that was tied to the Chicano Movement and La Raza Unida Party. Together, Angel and his colleagues were able to institute significant change, securing long-needed bilingual education funding, bringing in bilingual staff and administration (many of the White students, teachers, administrators and coaches left the school district), and securing a bond to build a new elementary, a new high school, and other necessary renovations for what had been an outdated and underfunded school district. He also became the force that “decriminalized” the speaking of Spanish (or any other foreign language) in the educational setting, paving the way for bilingual content instruction and later dual-language instruction across the state. Finally, he helped establish a specific policy recommendation for the district that said: “The historical contributions and cultural characteristics identified with the Mexican American will become an integral part of the total program (Pre-K to 12). This will enable all students to understand and appreciate, in a positive sense, historical contributions and the rich culture of the Mexican and the Mexican American.” This was in 1973, nearly 40 years before Arizona and other states began trying to ban ethnic studies in public schools. He was also instrumental in creating several successful programs that changed the face of education in Crystal City and beyond, such as a Teacher Corps, the Urban/Rural Program, a Right to Read Program, and the $500,000 Carnegie Administrators Program, founded in partnership with the Carnegie Foundation. Students were also welcome at the School Board table, welcome to represent the voice of the most vital stakeholder in any educational setting, the students. All of these innovations and meaningful changes were made under the guidance of Angel Noe Gonzalez, who brought Crystal City into the state and national spotlight in its work for equity in education.
As much as Angel should and will be remembered as an educational legend in Texas, his true identity can be found in his other “titles”—husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, brother, uncle. Angel was the seventh of eight surviving children to Leonides and Genoveva G. Gonzalez. Although they lost their parents at an early age, those eight children—through the strong early guidance of their parents—developed an unbelievable work ethic and a truly remarkable dedication to education. Those eight children became five master educators, one registered nurse, one physician, and one surgeon. Every one of them graduated college, with several advanced degrees among them. In turn, each of them has impressed upon their children the value of education, none more strongly than Angel Noe Gonzalez. Even in a group as amazing and accomplished as this family, Angel was one of the best. Angel is survived by his wife Diola, whom he referred to in his acceptance speech for the National Bilingual Education Hall of Fame as “my wife, my partner and my best friend” and “the most wonderful and loving human being on this planet,” whom he could not thank enough “for her unwavering loyalty and commitment, and for making me the person that I am.” He is also survived by his children Sylvia Gonzalez, Richard (Cheryl) Gonzalez, and Diana Gonzalez; his grandchildren Angel Noe Gonzalez, Alejandro Rene Gonzalez, Angela Marie Gonzalez, Ricardo Adrian Gonzalez, and John Roland Garcia; his sisters Elpidia G. (Robert) Smith, and Gloria G. (Eduardo) Guajardo; and his sister-in-law Carmella (Hugo Rene) Gonzalez. Angel is also survived by Bertha Nelda and Jose Rolando Hinojosa, who, although niece and nephew, respectively, always felt like sister and brother. Angel was preceded in death by his sisters Consuelo G. (Silverio) Hinojosa, Belinda G. (Luther) Reese, and Olga G. (Gerald) Smith; and by his brothers Luis Leonel and Hugo Rene Gonzalez.
Please help us celebrate the life of our beloved Angel, a loving family man, and a true legend in the education of Texas children, especially the most underserved and disenfranchised groups. To close this memorial piece, it is fitting to use Angel’s own words: “My dream remains the same, as it began, expecting educational equality for all children, regardless of the language they bring to school, regardless of their abilities, and regardless of their color, race or creed and/or their economic status. Someday, maybe not in my lifetime, some young energetic leaders will step up and be recognized, so that elusive dream of educational equality will become a reality!” Papa, you were that energetic young leader, and we thank you for all you did for us and for all the children in Texas. We love you, and will miss you immensely.
We also wanted to say thank you to the compassionate Nurse Betty. You were just what he needed – Hook ‘Em!
Funeral arrangements for Angel are as follows:
Rosary: Thursday, April 11, 6-8pm at Sparkman-Crane Funeral Home, 10501 Garland Road, Dallas, TX 75218.
Funeral Mass: Friday, April 12, 11am at St. Pius X Catholic Church, 3030 Gus Thomasson Road, Dallas, TX 75228. Lunch to follow Funeral Mass in St. Pius X Parish Hall.
Memorial Service: Saturday April 13, 1pm at Sparkman-Crane Funeral Home. **WEAR TEXAS ORANGE**
Hotel Accommodations can be made at: La Quinta by Wyndham, Dallas Northeast-Arboretum, 1310 Market Place Drive, Garland, TX 75041. Telephone: (972) 685-5458.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions be made to: The Leonides and Genoveva Guerra Gonzalez Endowed Scholarship Fund The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Office of Institutional Advancement, EITTB 1.210 1201 W. University Drive Edinburg, TX 78539
Contributions can also be made online at https://give.utrgv.edu/students. This link will take you to the “Division for Institutional Advancement” page. Scroll down to the “Give To:” line. Select “Other” and reference the Leonides and Genoveva Guerra Gonzalez Endowed Scholarship.
- Angel is survived by his wife Diola, whom he referred to in his acceptance speech for the National Bilingual Education Hall of Fame as “my wife, my partner and my best friend” and “the most wonderful and loving human being on this planet,” whom he could not thank enough “for her unwavering loyalty and commitment, and for making me the person that I am.” He is also survived by his children Sylvia Gonzalez, Richard (Cheryl) Gonzalez, and Diana Gonzalez; his grandchildren Angel Noe Gonzalez, Alejandro Rene Gonzalez, Angela Marie Gonzalez, Ricardo Adrian Gonzalez, and John Roland Garcia; his sisters Elpidia G. (Robert) Smith, and Gloria G. (Eduardo) Guajardo; and his sister-in-law Carmella (Hugo Rene) Gonzalez. Angel is also survived by Bertha Nelda and Jose Rolando Hinojosa, who, although niece and nephew, respectively, always felt like sister and brother. Angel was preceded in death by his sisters Consuelo G. (Silverio) Hinojosa, Belinda G. (Luther) Reese, and Olga G. (Gerald) Smith; and by his brothers Luis Leonel and Hugo Rene Gonzalez.
- John Roland Garcia, Active Pallbearer
- Angel Noe Gonzalez, Active Pallbearer
- Alejandro Rene Gonzalez, Active Pallbearer
- Ricardo Adrian Gonzalez, Active Pallbearer
- Christopher Hinojosa, Active Pallbearer
- Dr. Julian Jay Gonzalez, Active Pallbearer
- Angela Marie Gonzalez, Honorary Pallbearer
- Visitation Thursday, April 11, 2019
- Rosary Thursday, April 11, 2019
- Funeral Mass Friday, April 12, 2019
- Reception Friday, April 12, 2019
- Funeral Service Saturday, April 13, 2019
- Reception Saturday, April 13, 2019