Manuel “Manny” Reyes was proud of his background: his Mexican ancestry and his U.S. citizenship.
“He was proud of his heritage as a Mexican-American,” said his son Tom Reyes. “He always maintained his cultural roots.”
Reyes died Thursday after a long illness, his son said. He was 92.
Manuel Reyes moved to the United States from Guadalajara, Mexico, as a young child with his parents and brother. His father, a railroad worker, found a job in Colorado and later in Hershey, Neb.
In 1942, Reyes was drafted into the Army and served in the Philippines, where he eventually gained U.S. citizenship. He returned to the United States, taking a job with the Union Pacific Corp. in Omaha, where he worked for 35 years.
Family was important to Reyes, his son said. Manuel Reyes and his wife, Inez, always have had members of their extended families living with them.
“They were the foundation of both families,” Tom Reyes said.
Providing a home to in-laws, aunts and uncles required patience, of which his father had plenty, Tom said.
“He always said 'Yeah, come in. You can stay as long as you need to.'”
Reyes was an avid bowler, a member of the Nebraska National Guard and active in his church, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the Knights of Columbus. His legacy will continue through his sons. Like his father, Tom is retired from the Army and has two sons currently enlisted.
Another Reyes son works for Union Pacific. His third son is a bowler.
“There's something there of him in each of us that carries on,” Tom Reyes said.
Manuel Reyes was preceded in death by a son, Juan Manuel; grandson Daniel Johnson; and great-granddaughter Allysa Reyes.
Besides son Tom, other survivors include his wife, Inez; sons Richard Reyes and Phillip Reyes, both of Omaha; daughters Connie Johnson of Brooklyn Park, Minn., and Cyndy Montalvo of Omaha; 17 grandchildren; and 20 great-grandchildren.
Services will begin at 9:15 o'clock this morning from Westlawn-Hillcrest Funeral Home, with a 10 a.m. funeral Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, 5221 S. 23rd St.
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