William Merriweather Pena

February 10, 1919February 10, 2018

He was born in Laredo, Texas, on February 10, 1919, the second of three sons of Eduardo and Clementina Peña and was preceded in death by his parents and brothers Gustavo Peña and Augusto Peña. "Ed", as he was known, was a grocer most of his life and was elected to serve on the Laredo City Council for a decade. "Tina" was a homemaker and was a co-founder of the Society of Martha Washington in Laredo.

In 1942, at Texas A&M College, Peña received a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and a commission in the U. S. Army. He served in the European Theater of War with the 28th Infantry Division. He was involved in three major battles: Huertgen Forest, Battle of the Bulge, and the Liberation of Colmar. He retired from the Army in 1947 as a Captain and was awarded a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. In 1991, he published his war memoir As Far As Schleiden. For his service, the French awarded him the Criox de Guerre in 1945, then the Chevalier of the National Order of the Legion of Honour (France’s highest honor) in 2013. In 2014, he was one of five notable Aggies memorialized in the “Aggies Go to War” museum exhibit which opened in Belgium. Most recently, in 2016, the Kingdom of Belgium bestowed upon him the Honorary Distinction of Commander in the Order of the Crown. The medal was presented, in person, by Her Royal Highness Princess Astrid of Belgium, in College Station, Texas.

After the war, he returned to Texas A&M to receive a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1948. Upon graduation he joined the architecture firm of Caudill Rowlett and Scott (CRS) and became the fourth founding partner in 1949.

Peña is known as the Father of Architectural Programming. After 20 years of practice, he developed the Problem Seeking Programming Process and in 1969 he wrote the first edition of Problem Seeking with John Focke. The American Institute of Architects elevated him to AIA Fellow in 1972, in recognition of his contributions to programming and education. From 1970-73, he served as consultant to the Professional Examination Committee of the National Council on Architectural Registration Boards --- specifically, to write the programming section of the exam.

In 1998 he received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the College of Architecture at Texas A&M University (the first year the award was presented) in recognition of outstanding leadership and accomplishments. In 2015 he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award of Texas A&M University, the highest honor bestowed on former students of Texas A&M. In 2016, Willie endowed the William Merriweather Peña Scholarship at the Texas A&M College of Architecture. The scholarship was designed to benefit deserving students who have a financial need. It was the largest single gift the College had ever received.

The AIA Houston Chapter has honored William Peña three times: in 1990 with the Chapter Citation Award, in the year 2000 with the prestigious Thomas Jefferson Award, and in the year 2009 with a contribution, in his honor, to the AIA Houston Design Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

Family will receive friends on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 from 5:00 pm until 7:00 pm with the rosary being recited at 7:00 pm in The Hunters Creek Chapel at Earthman Funeral Directors, 8303 Katy Freeway, Houston, Texas 77024. Funeral mass will be conducted on Thursday, February 15, 2018 at 10:00 am at St. Michael The Archangel Catholic Church, 1801 Sage Road, Houston, Texas 77056.


  • Visitation Wednesday, February 14, 2018
  • Rosary Wednesday, February 14, 2018
  • Funeral Mass Thursday, February 15, 2018

William Merriweather Pena

have a memory or condolence to add?

Yuji Mizoue

February 14, 2018

I was deeply shocked and saddened by the news of Mr William Pena passing.
Willie taught me important things in my life.
Not only he showed me key factor of the "Problem Seeking" method which is the original method of architectural programming which big changed from the traditional building production process, but also I think he taught me Way of thinking, how to find the essence and core of things, how to systematizing, how to narrowing down to the important factors. Willie's sight that brings innovation has had a major impact on my life. Unfortunately, from now on it is impossible to directly ask questions about what I thought, but when something tough or confusion happens, I will return to saying, "How would you think if Willie? So I would like to figure out the direction in which I am going.
Really, thank you for teaching me so many things.
Please accept my sincerest condolences. May his soul rest in peace.

Stan Simmons

February 13, 2018

Mr. Pena was a cherished neighbor and a charter member of the Bolton Place Townhouse Association. His knowledge and guidance was relied on for 40 years. He will be missed greatly and remembered fondly.
Willie...God Bless You, Go With God.

J. E. "Bud" Rudder Jr.

February 13, 2018

A friend of Texas, a friend of Texas A&M, a friend of my father. His legacy will endure far beyond all who knew him.

Joe and Deb Schwan

February 13, 2018

Our world lost a good man last week. I am truly grateful to have had the chance to know him and to learn from him. Any time you spoke with Willie it was evident that he loved sharing his knowledge and wisdom acquired during his not quite one hundred years on this earth. As we miss you here I know the angels are welcoming you there, in your new eternal home. Gods peace to you Willie and all your loved ones.

February 13, 2018

Condolences for William M. Pena

On behalf of the Bryan-College Station Sister Cities Association, I want to express our condolences on the death of William M Pena.

It was just a few years ago when our two cities, along with the city of Bastogne, Belgium, signed an agreement to become Sister Cities because of our long-standing relationship and our lasting bond stemming back to World War II.

We were pleased to attend the ceremony where Princess Astrid of Belgium bestowed upon Mr. Pena the distinction of Commander in the Order of the Crown and to join him in a tour of the Texas Aggies go to War exhibit in the Memorial Student Center.

We wish to help promote his legacy and our connections with Belgium as we continue to find ways to promote peace through cultural understandingone person and one community at a time.

May the forthcoming museum become a success as we remember those who have been an important part of our history.

Dave Ruesink
Immediate Past President
BCS Sister Cities Association

February 12, 2018

A great man with a legacy of service, innovation, leadership, and passion. A life well lived. May he rest in peace.

Terry Scarbrough

February 12, 2018

A true American hero and wonderful man of God.
Terry Scarbrough
St. Michaels Church
Houston Tx.

February 12, 2018

Dear Willie we at St. Michael's will miss you. We loved all your stories and especially the "show'n'tell" at the Breakfast Club.
Rest in peace and bless you for your long courageous life.
Margaret Fuller

Jim Kollaer

February 12, 2018

RIP old friend. God welcome your son Willie. He was an amazing man who gave what he had to and for others. He mentored and taught many of us in the ways of Architectural Programming and made a tremendous difference in our lives. He was an honorable, honest, ethical man who left the world a better freer place and he left the garden a little greener than he found it. Please welcome him home and give him the peace and rest that he so richly deserves. I am honored to have known him.

February 12, 2018

Willie was a gem! At the weekly breakfast show and tells we learned so much of his life and travels. A very cool dude. He will be missed.
Laurie Merriman