Editor’s Note: The following article was originally published in the Mar. 23, 2023 edition of the San Benito News and is being edited and reprinted here with the publisher’s permission.
It’s been a long time coming — 10 years to be exact— since the family of the Resaca City’s favorite son, legendary songster Freddy Fender was awarded a Texas Historical Marker for Fender’s boyhood home within San Benito’s El Jardin neighborhood. But for several reasons, the marker sat in storage in Fender’s former Corpus Christi residence. Fender passed away in Corpus Christi on Oct. 14, 2006.
Now, in collaboration with Fender’s family, the members of the San Benito Historical Society (SBHS) have spearheaded an effort to secure the marker and have organized a dedication and unveiling ceremony set for Saturday, April 15, 2023, at 10 a.m. at 143 Freddy Fender Lane in San Benito. The public is invited to attend the free event. The locale is not exactly Fender’s boyhood home, which has since gone into disrepair and has been demolished, but down the street at his first home, acquired when he and his wife, Evangelina “Vangie” Muniz, were newlyweds. The house is also adjacent to his brother’s residence, according to Sandra Tumberlinson, SBHS treasurer.
“The family was awarded the marker ten years ago, in 2013,” Tumberlinson explained. “(Former State) Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. and (former State) Congressman Rene Oliveira signed off on it, and it was approved; but for ten years, circumstances didn’t allow them (the family( to (erect or) dedicate the marker.”
“We’re going to place it at the home where they (Freddy and his wife) lived as newlyweds, a very nice brick home, which is right across the Resaca on Freddy Fender Lane, which is next door to his brother’s home, so it’s perfect,” Tumberlinson said.
Tumberlinson noted that event organizers thought it would be apropos for one of the keynote speakers at the dedication ceremony to be former State Senator Eddie Lucio Jr. since he helped the family acquire the marker a decade ago. “I thought it would be a good conclusion to the story,” Tumberlinson remarked.
After the dedication ceremony, the public is invited to visit the Freddy Fender Museum at the old San Benito Community Building, 210 E. Heywood, to view Fender’s Grammies, Gold Records, and a variety of other artifacts representing Fender’s career which spanned over a half-century prior to his death, and which is all situated within the museum’s 450 sq. ft. of space. Most of the memorabilia was acquired from the family’s archives. The museum opened its doors in late 2007, according to archival records.