© by Ray Sanchez
It’s always heartwarming to
see El Paso athletes grow up, return to this area and give back to the
Latest case in point: Orlando Cervantes, a retired businessman, farmer and engineer. He donated 160 acres to La Familia Clinic in El Paso (valued at $2.7 million) and then donated $50,000 to New Mexico State to start a special Orlando Cervantes Endowed Scholarship.
The scholarship specifically connects the El Paso and Las Cruces communities by awarding graduates of El Paso High School with scholarship dollars to complete a degree in engineering from NMSU.
“I’m an Aggie,” he said. “And, I’m a Tiger.”
I REMEMBER Cervantes’ playing days well. I was a rookie sports writer at the El Paso Herald-Post in the 1950s and as is true for most young sportswriters starting out at a newspaper I was assigned to cover high school sports.
Cervantes, tall and talented, served as captain of the El Paso High School football, basketball and baseball teams, lettered in both football and baseball and was inducted into the El Paso High School Hall of Fame.
FOLLOWING ARE excerpts of a story written by Daphne Griffin of New Mexico State:
“He (Cervantes) earned a football scholarship to play at NMSU and after his freshman year, Cervantes joined the military. He was stationed in Korea for two years where he honed his passion for engineering by working on building and engineering projects for the United State Army.
“A native El Pasoan and graduate of El Paso High School, Cervantes’ life is a culmination of opportunity, perseverance and hard work
“Following his service, Cervantes returned to El Paso, completing his degree in engineering from NMSU in 1960.
“OPPORTUNITY immediately came knocking, and after a one-year appointment with Robert McKee General Contractors in El Paso, Cervantes moved to the West Coast where he was able to build his engineering portfolio alongside some of the area’s top engineers.
“Looking back, Cervantes says he is most proud of his three children, Joseph, Dino and Tina, who now run a family farm, and his six granddaughters.
“’You can find examples of achievements much greater than mine,’” he said. “’But, I’m happy.’’’
His latest venture: Cervantes Enterprises. It includes a chili product that has sold not only in the United States but other parts of the world.
He’s a very special man, indeed.
TRIVIA QUESTION: Who was the first football coach at what is now known as University of Texas at El Paso? Answer at end of column.
ORLANDO CERVANTES, by the way, has kept in touch with athletes from other schools. He recently had breakfast with Luis De La Cruz from Ysleta High School and Arturo Lightbourn from Bowie High. All three are in their 80s.
Here’s an oddity: All three played end for their respective high school football teams and all three were picked on the All-District team the same year, 1951. De La Cruz wound up marrying one of Cervantes’ sisters.
De la Cruz grew up to head the El Paso Sanitation Department and Lightbourn became principal of Hart Elementary School.
ARE YOU A golf nut? Here’s a good meet for you to enter: The UTEP Alumni Association Golf Tournament.
It’ll be held Friday, Aug. 17, at Butterfield Trail Golf Club and is sponsored by The Hospitals of Providence.
Think of it. You’ll have fun and you’ll mingle with some of the Miners’ biggest boosters.
Speaking of the UTEP Alumni Association, it’s now planning tailgate parties for UTEP football games and tickets are now on sale. Visit alumni.utep.edu/tailgate for more information.
TRIVIA ANSWER: Tommy Dwyer, who had been an All Southwest Conference quarterback at Texas A&M, in 1914.
Veteran sports journalist and author Ray Sanchez welcomes suggestions for his column. Contact him at by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or online at www.raysanchezbooks.com
Books University of Texas at El Paso Home Court
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