By Helena Rodriguez
Pedro “Pete” Villanueva was the glue that stuck his family together, the backbone, the shining star. He was the special angel who left a void, a big space in the hearts of all those whose lives he touched.
This is how Rosalie Pacheco of Portales and Arthur Villanueva of West Jordan, Utah, describe their brother, Pete, who recently passed away following a battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Pete’s baby brother, Steve, said, “Pete probably had to be the most caring person with the biggest heart that I’ve ever met in my life.” He said that before Pete developed Parkinson’s Disease, he loved to ride his bicycle all over Portales and visit family and friends. And according to Steve, Pete had a way with people.
“He could meet somebody he had never ever seen before and within a few minutes, he would know they’re whole life story,” Steve said. “Pete had a special way with people.”
Pete graduated from Portales High School in 1976. He never married or had children of his own, but was considered his mother’s right arm and enjoyed nothing more than watching his many nephews and nieces playing sports.
“Coaches Brenda Gomez and Mark Gallegos always gave me T-shirts, saying to take them to ‘our No. 1 Ram Fan,’” said Corrine Gonzales, another of Pete’s seven surviving sisters.
“I would bathe him in the mornings. He could be having a bad day and I would tell him if he wanted to go to the game, he would have to exercise today and try hard to feel better, and he would force his poor body to feel better. He loved to attend games,” Gonzales said.
Pete also loved watching the Dallas Cowboys and Los Angeles Lakers play on TV.
“Pete never gave up on the Dallas Cowboys,” his sister, Stella Lucero, said. “(The thing) I will miss the most about him is his outgoing personality, he never met a person he didn’t like.”
Pete’s family was well aware of his love for sports and went out of their ways to take him to local games. But more than sports, they say Pete had solid faith in God and was an example to the rest to follow.
“Pete never worried about himself. He always worried about the other man in the wheelchair,” Gonzales said. “He taught me how to appreciate what you do have, to make the best out of what God has given you and not to complain.”
Although Pete often had a hard time speaking and being understood, Gonzales said that when he read his Bible at First Spanish Baptist Church, that one could understand everything he said.
His other sister, Vickie Gonzales, said Pete was a visual image of suffering every Sunday, and yet he never questioned God.
“Pete knew all the blessings that sickness could bring,” Vickie said. “He knew all about being dependent on others, and above all, on God for life.”
In addition to his strong example of faith and caring spirit, Arthur said his brother Pete had a photographic memory and often kept him and Steve out of trouble.
“He reminded us about our kids’ birthdays and our wedding anniversaries,” Arthur said. “He would call and say, ‘Did you know in a couple of days (it’s) your wife’s birthday?’”
“It was mentioned at church that if people only loved God half as much as they loved Pete, everybody would go to heaven,” Arthur said. “He is a person who is going to be missed by everybody he ever met.”