HERMILA “MILA” P. GUTIERREZ Mrs. Hermila “Mila” P. Gutierrez passed away after a very long and fulfilling life on Wednesday, February 4, 2015, in Laredo, Texas at the age of 95. It is almost impossible to define a great woman using only a few words. As an individual, Hermila was an educator, a health advocate, a survivor, a devout Catholic, and a progressive thinker in defining her own life. To her husband, the late Fernando D. Gutierrez, Hermila was a devoted wife for more than 60 years. She was a loving mother, both to her three children (Fernando Jr., Nelda and Elsa), and later to her two eldest grandchildren (Christopher and Dominic) whom she tenderly raised and lovingly “adopted” as her own. To all her eight grandchildren, she will always be remembered as the pillar of strength, the nucleus of family, the source of unconditional love and the epitome of joy and laughter. Hermila Peña Gutierrez was born on September 1, 1919 in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon. She moved to Laredo, Texas in 1924 and was raised with both her parents and sisters. She graduated from the 1st ever Martin High School class of 1937, worked for a brief time at Laredo National Bank and later as a medical assistant with the late, Dr. Malakoff. Growing up in a historical era where women were neither treated as equals nor encouraged to pursue a college education, Mila fiercely overcame prejudices and transcended both economic and social barriers to obtaining higher education. After the birth of her children, she decided to study education, graduating from Texas A&I-Kingsville, establishing that women could realize both their dreams of motherhood and career. Mila worked as a teacher for Laredo ISD for more than 20 years, at the old Central School, J.C. Martin Jr. and at Santo Niño Elementary School until her retirement in 1982. Over the course of her later years, she fondly remembered the many faces of her students as they oftentimes approached her in public, and quite a few of them were surprised to hear her call them by their names. “A teacher never forgets her students” is what she’d always say. After her retirement, she loved spending time at her ranch, tending to her horses and goats. As a devout Catholic, Mrs. Gutierrez had a chapel built on her ranch, choosing to live her late years in prayer and devotion. She loved working on home improvement projects, telling jokes, sharing spiritual/religious insight and enjoying family get togethers. She led a full, robust life, experiencing many joys and sorrows. Her love and legacy is an inspiration and will forever be instilled in the hearts and minds of her family. May she have a restful journey. Mrs. Gutierrez is preceded in death by her husband, Fernando D. Gutierrez, Sr.; parents, Ignacio Peña and Leonor Gracia; her daughter, Nelda Carolina Alvarado; sons-in-law, Jesus Salvador Alvarado and James K. Woodard; sister and brother-in-law, Hilda and Ricardo Gonzalez; and nephew, Richard Gonzalez. She is survived by her children, Fernando D. Gutierrez, Jr. (former daughter-in-law, Rebecca Sandoval) and Elsa Baker Woodard; grandchildren, Ricardo Gutierrez of San Antonio, Texas, Cordelia Alvarado, Jaime Fernando Alvarado, Celina (Luis) Alvarado, Dominic (Dina) Baker, Christopher (Sandy) Baker, James Jason (Raquel) Woodard II, all of Laredo, Texas, and Joseph (Jeanette) Woodard of Colorado; great-grandchildren, Melanie, Brianna, Ashley, Noah, D.J., Andres, Alejandro, Atom, Egypt, Vash, Antonio and Delayna; and great-great-granddaughter, Maddison. She is also survived by her sister, Heber Hileana (Margarito “Mark”) Garcia of Virginia; nephews, Robert Joseph (Rebecca) Gonzalez of San Antonio, Texas, Mark (Lisa) Garcia of Colorado, and Laura (Mike) Organek of Virginia as well as numerous other relatives and friends. A rosary will be recited on Sunday, February 8, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. in the Hillside Funeral Home Chapel. A visitation will be held from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. A funeral service will be held on Monday, February 9, 2015 at 10:30 a.m. from Hillside Funeral Home to San Martin de Porres Catholic Church. A mass will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. Interment will follow to the Calvary Catholic Cemetery. The family would like to extend its utmost sincere gratitude to Dr. Luis Benavides, Dr. Fernando Sanchez, Dr. Eduardo Canova, and the staff and nurses of the third floor of Doctors Hospital and second floor of Laredo Specialty Hospital. If you would like to sign the guestbook or send private condolences, you may do so at www.hillsidefuneral.com. Arrangements are under the direction of Hillside Funeral Home, 310 Hillside Road.