Lucilla Peña Endowment
Education was a lifelong passion for Brownsville matriarch Lucila Peña in both large ways and small.
She saw six children through college and advanced degrees in law and education. She was always looking up new words in the dictionary, and in her 70s, as motherly and grandmotherly duties allowed, she enrolled in French classes at Texas Southmost College.
In honor of that lifelong enthusiasm for learning, the Alberto J. and Margaret Dabney Peña family of San Antonio – along with Lucila Peña’s husband of 66 years, Gustavo J. Peña – created the Lucila Peña Memorial Scholarship for Student Teachers in the School of Education.
Maggie Peña says her mother-in-law was a role model for her entire family.
“She offered us all a wonderful example of how to live one’s life fully, overcoming obstacles to make the most of each day and inspiring others to stretch themselves to be all that they can be,” Maggie Peña said.
“She would be very proud to be able to help students at UTB as they work toward becoming teachers.”
The Peña endowment in the School of Education specifically targets senior students who are enrolled as student teachers and working toward Texas certification in the areas of early childhood, elementary or secondary education.
Ana Lucila Farias Peña, born April 2, 1915, was a direct descendent of one of Laredo’s founding families. She and her husband moved to Brownsville in 1947 when Gustavo became export manager of a Mexican cotton company.
Mrs. Peña was the mother of six children, including Alberto, now an attorney in private practice in San Antonio. Two of her children became educators. Gustavo Jr. is a school counselor in Brownsville and Ana Flores is a retired school administrator in Laredo.
Another son, Federico F. Pena is an advisor to President Barack Obama. Pena was a former mayor for the city of Denver and served in the Clinton administration.
Maggie Peña says her mother-in-law was fluent in English and Spanish and spent hours helping her study for state certification as a bilingual teacher. In her 70s, Mrs. Peña and a friend decided to add French to their linguistic accomplishments.
“It was not unusual to find them sitting at the kitchen table doing their homework and practicing the conjugation of verbs,” Maggie Peña recalls.
A devoted mother and grandmother, Mrs. Peña was active at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. A member of the Pan American Round Table Part 1 and the Wednesday Study Group, she also served the community as a board member for the Moody Clinic and Camille Lightner Playhouse.
Albert and Maggie Peña are the parents of three children - Alberto, Kristin and Laurin – who “adored their grandmother.”
Lucila Peña died on Nov. 23, 2007, at 92.