Corpus Christi

Elena Tamez De Peña


By Jaime Margolis

When Elena De Peña was growing up, her parents emphasized the importance of a good education. Her father was a mechanic and her mother ran a grocery store in San Benito, Texas; De Peña said they set a good example for her and her siblings.

Born Elena Tamez, she and her sister Rosa wanted to be nurses after they graduated from high school, and their mother insisted they follow their dreams. They attended George Peabody University in Tennessee, where they received training in public health.

Apolonia Muñoz Abarca


By Darcie Stevens

As news of the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor came over the radio on Dec. 7, 1941, a 20-year-old Polly Muñoz Abarca started dreaming of places worlds away from her dorm room in Corpus Christi, Texas.

None of the students at Fred Roberts Nursing School had ever seen war.

"We were so innocent," Abarca said.

Her dreams would lead her down many roads, but she wouldn't leave Corpus Christi. Her helping hands were much needed on home turf.

Johnnie W. Flores


By Maggie Rivas-Rodriguez

Johnnie W. Flores was the fifth of seven children born to Jose Maria and Teresa (Huizar) Flores, on a farm outside of Somerset, Texas, a community southeast of San Antonio.

In the mid-1930s, Johnnie moved to Los Angeles, where he lived and worked until he enlisted in the Army in 1941. He served with the Co. B, 36th Infantry Regiment.

Armando D Flores


By Bettina Luis

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX-On October 21, 2000, through the efforts of former alumni, a historical marker was erected on the south side of the Nueces County courthouse dedicated to the Cheston L. Heath Grammar School. The marker denoted one of the only segregated schools in Texas.

Tomás Z. Cantú


By Bettina Luis

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- Standing at attention, his thumbs aligned with the seam of the trouser, his heels together at a 45-degree angle. Thomas Cantu Jr. looked straight ahead as he was awarded the Air Medal in 1943 for completing 150 combat flying hours.