Rafaela Navarro Juarez

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Interviewed by
Julio C. Ovando
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By Rebecca De Leon

At the age of 18, Rafaela Navarro’s faith was tested. In 1942, her soon-to-be husband, Anastacio Juarez, was called to fight in World War II, leaving her and his family to fret about his safety.

Anastacio’s cousin was Rafaela’s brother-in-law, so the two families had known each other since Rafaela and Anastacio were very young. Both Rafaela and Anastacio grew up in San Marcos, Texas, as well as attended the same Catholic church, Sacred Heart of Mary, in nearby Martindale.

So when Anastacio returned from the war in 1946, he and Rafaela got married.

Rafaela says she got through her four years of worry and waiting by praying.

“I prayed everyday so nothing would happen to him and for him to return fine so we could get married,” she said. “His mother, father and I all prayed. We would go to church and pray together,” sometimes all through the night, she added.

At one point, when Anastacio was in France, he sent her a bracelet to let her know his admiration for her; however, it was his letters that gave her peace of mind.

“Sometimes his parents would ask me if I had received any letters from him because they wouldn’t receive any,” Rafaela said. “They would ask if he was fine and I would tell them, ‘Yes, he is fine.’”

At the time of Rafaela’s interview, the Juarezes had been married 51 years and had eight children: five girls and three boys.

“I have been really happy with my husband and my children,” said Rafaela, who noted that her kids all have careers, ranging from teaching to law.

“I thank God that all my children wanted to go to college and have a career,” said Rafaela, who went to school until fifth grade, only one year shy of Anastacio, who attended until sixth grade.

In addition to marrying Rafaela, Anastacio got a job at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, after the war, which Rafaela sees as one of the conflict’s upsides, since both of them suffered through the Great Depression. A lifelong commitment to her faith has allowed her and her family to have a successful life post war, she says.

Mrs. Juarez was interviewed in San Antonio, Texas, on Nov. 6, 2004, by Julio Ovando.