Cover photo for Gilbert R. Tagle Jr.'s Obituary
Gilbert R. Tagle Jr. Profile Photo
1955 Gilbert 2024

Gilbert R. Tagle Jr.

August 29, 1955 — February 2, 2024

Gilbert R. Tagle Jr., 68, born August 29, 1955, in San Juan, Texas completed his earthly mission and passed away peacefully surrounded by his loving family on February 2, 2024 at Knapp Medical Center in Weslaco, Texas. 

It was his wish to share with all who knew and loved him the following: 

By GILBERT R. TAGLE 

A Servant of Our Lord 

Dear Friends: I want to give God a shout out and tell Him: "Thank You Father." On August 29, 1955, He gave me to my parents, Alma Vinton and Gilberto Tagle, Sr., as their first son. 

I am ever so appreciative to Him and to my beautiful parents for accepting me and loving me despite all my imperfections. I am not a perfect man. I was not a perfect child. I had my quirks and my fears. Deep inside me, I suffered self-esteem issues. I knew I was different from others. I was a corpulent child in a time when obese children stood out from skinny, normal children. Today, society's view is seemingly the opposite. Had it not been for my parent's unconditional love, I am not sure how I would have survived this period in my life. From them, and from my little brother, Richard, I learned to think "skinny." Unfortunately, my body did not get the message. 

Early on, I learned to compensate for my body mass flaw by reading and learning as much as I could. By the time I arrived in first grade, I could read. Thanks to a persistent mom who read to us every day, I was way beyond "See Dick and Jane. See Spot run." I liked bigger books and bigger reading challenges. I read my mom's Life and Look magazines. I read the then Valley Evening Monitor newspaper. I wrote my first letter to the editor when I was eight. It got published. Mom clipped it and saved it. I wrote about the Hunt brothers (the ketchup moguls) and their effort back then to influence the silver market. At eight-years-old, I had an opinion and shared it. It was the publication of that letter than showed me my future. I wanted to write to change things and tell stories that other people could read and learn from.

The rest is history - my history - that is. I was a newspaper editor for 17 years with a tough little daily (The Edinburg Daily Review) that was an unrelenting taxpayer watchdog long before anybody thought of demanding transparency. We took on the Edinburg school district, Edinburg the City, Hidalgo County and its DA, district judges, court system, and made them accountable. In my newspaper career, I wrote over a million words in editorials and investigative stories. We made the local, state, and national news. I like to think that my newspaper staff and I made a difference in Edinburg. For those on the receiving end, I was a big fat *#@x. For those whose case was heard before the court of last resorts (our newspaper), we were a Godsend. For me, it was the fulfillment of a calling I had since I was a child. Bottom line, our little paper rocked in the 1980s and 1990s. One year, we won an Associated Press Community Service Award. The judges wrote: "This paper has guts!" These words rang out in my mind as I walked up to the stage to accept a first place award and walked past the big newspaper editors from San Antonio, Dallas, and Houston. It was an honor to fit into their category for once in my life.

I retired from the newspaper business when my mother passed away in 1998. I promised her that I'd leave the paper. She said there would be nobody to pray for divine protection for me. So, I left the business I so much loved. I was not sure what I was going to do until the City of Edinburg hired me as a program consultant to coordinate 10 citizen driven committees whose achievements changed the face of Edinburg and took it from being a bedroom community into an era of new economic life and growth. While working for the city, I was wooed by the Edinburg School District to work for them as a Public Information Officer. 

Fifteen years later, I was still here doing what I do best - writing behind the scenes. I had always wanted to be a speech-writer for the President. God granted me the opportunity to be the speech writer for five school superintendents that I worked under. The funny thing is that I have worked for two of the public entities that once would have wanted me to disappear off the face of the earth, forever. My brother likes to remind me that "I sold out to the Man" when I left the Edinburg Daily Review - All the News That Was Fit to Print.

In the years before my newspaper career and my career in the public service, I also worked for the United Methodist Church in communications, youth ministry, church program development, and administration. I arrived in Nashville at the age of 20. I worked in youth ministry at the highest level of the UMC. I traveled all across the country and the world working with youth groups and churches. I represented my Hispanic heritage and tried to show them that we were all children of the same God. I learned so much and made many very good friends. I got to do things that even now I don't believe I did. From Nashville, I wound up in San Antonio working for the UMC in Hispanic ministry and there I got to write to my heart's delight. I got to serve on the editorial board of a national UMC newspaper and made a name for myself at my first board meeting when I asked why there were no minority writers on the paper. The publisher told me that they had not ever had a qualified applicant. My immediate response was - "I'm here." 

Then I made a motion asking the editorial board to consider a minority internship program for the paper. The board did me better. They wanted permanent minority staff positions. Much to the publisher's dismay, I got the votes, and the paper hired its first minority reporter - a young, highly qualified African American female reporter. One night, she called me in San Antonio and thanked me for making her job possible. The paper found many other qualified minority reporters in the years it continued to publish. With God's help, I think I made a difference. Funny thing, when I returned to the Valley in 1983, that paper called me and offered me a job as an editor. I turned them down.

There are so many things I could lift up as examples of how God has blessed me through my various career experiences, but I'd sound more braggadocious than I have already. Every experience is true. I tell my wife, Alma, and my son, Carlos, that she and I have been blessed with living through six of the most interesting and history-making decades ever. We have lived through things that are in the history books and of which we can remember first-hand. Things like the Hippie flower children, JFK's presidency and assassination, the Bay of Pigs, MLK's march for civil rights and the "I have a Dream" speech, the development of the space program, man landing on the moon, the assassinations of RFK and MLK, Watergate, 911, the 60s and 70s music genres, the introduction of the "Twist," Hurricane Beulah, the Y2K farce, the technology explosion, and so on and so on. At this point in our lives, Alma and I can say with total certainty that history does indeed repeat itself. 

I would be remiss if I didn't give thanks to God for my family. My parents were the best. They led by example and loved us unconditionally. I give thanks for my son, Carlos Alberto, and I wish a Godly road for Him while I am still here and after I have gone home. I thank God for my brother, Richard. We are night and day, but all our lives we hung together and have been there for each other. Lastly, but certainly not last, I give thanks to God for my beautiful wife, Alma. She is my gift from God. I bombed on my first marriage. The only good thing that came from it was my son. Alma reminds me constantly that while I was reading and learning back in Pharr, she and her family were working the fields as migrants in Washington State, Oregon, Utah, and Idaho. I thank her constantly for that labor of love. She feels she missed out on a lot of things. One thing is certain though, Alma is one of the brightest women I know. She is a better writer than me. She sees things from a different angle. I think we balance each other out. When God put Alma in my path, He answered my prayers and set things in motion for what has come into my life over the last years.

Yes, I have a lifetime of memories and experiences. But I also have some regrets that keep me wondering "what if I had . . . ." Among those "what if" moments is the thought of where God would have taken me if I had answered the call to ministry that my mom so much wanted for me. I always expected a cataclysmic calling like the one that Saul received before becoming the Apostle Paul. But nothing like that came, and I apparently was deaf and dumb when the calling did come. It has been over the last fifteen years that I have realized that God calls us in different ways. My call was not loud and earth-shaking. Rather, it came in series of edifying experiences over 30 years in which I have experienced success, disappointment, disillusionment, and miracles. God has been there with me every time. He consoled me when I cried and cheered with me when I was thrilled. He gave me courage when I needed it, and sent messengers to serve as interpreters when I didn't understand what He was trying to tell me.

I have always loved public speaking. At this age, I am good to go at the drop of a hat. I love to preach the Gospel of Christ because it has so much meaning and significance for me. In Christ, I have found everything I need. Throughout my life in my church service, I have rubbed elbows with Bishops, famous evangelists, iconic Christian leaders, as well as some of the most simple men and women whom God has used to do great things. Because I turned down two opportunities to go through seminary training in my younger years, God sent these prophets to me to touch my life. It was in 2005, after a lengthy illness and period of restoration, that God called me to serve as a lay pastor to two distinct but challenging congregations. With Alma at my side, we answered God's call. We did it as volunteers for free. But in return, He gave us an abundance of blessings. I hope that you can see what I mean when I say that Alma was the gift God gave me to do His ministry.

As a lay servant, I have found that it is one thing to speak publicly to an audience and another thing to speak the Good News to a church congregation. A church family is not a perfect family. But if we approach church correctly, despite our imperfections, we can together serve a most perfect God. Growing up in the church I had learned about faith, prayer, God and the Trinity. But it was not until I was called as a lay pastor that I came to understand the Holy Spirit. One cannot fully understand the Holy Spirit until they have felt that warm feeling that Methodist Church founder, John Wesley, spoke about. It is better than any church camp mountaintop experience. The presence of the Holy Spirit moves you. You do things that you would not ever do alone. The Holy Spirit gives you assurance and confidence to speak with power for God. The Holy Spirit gives you validity as a servant of God. In our ministry together, the Holy Spirit has given Alma and me, the words, the wisdom, and the power to speak and do great things, not for our vainglory, but for God's glory.  

So, it is with great joy that on the eve of my 68th birthday, I give God all the honor and glory, for the person which I have become through Christ. God is so good. Alleluia, Gloria a Dios!

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. -Galatians 2:20

Gilbert was a 1973 graduate from Pharr-San Juan-Alamo HS, and earned his Bachelor's Degree from Pan American University in Journalism. Left to cherish Gilbert's memory is his loving wife of 15 years, Alma Alisia Arevalo, his beloved son Carlos Alberto Tagle, both of Donna, Texas, his esteemed brother, Richard (Johnny) Tagle of San Antonio, Texas, his best friend and colleague Mark (Roseanne) Montemayor of Edinburg, Texas, along with many cousins and extended family. He was preceded in death by his parents; Gilberto Tagle, Sr. and Alma Vinton Tagle."As you were you will always be, treasured in our memory." Visitation will be held from 5 to 8 p.m., with a 6 p.m. Memorial service Thursday, February 8, 2024, at Memorial Funeral Home in San Juan.

Funeral services are under the direction of Memorial Funeral Home in San Juan.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Gilbert R. Tagle Jr., please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Visitation

Thursday, February 8, 2024

5:00 - 8:00 pm (Central time)

Memorial Funeral Home - San Juan

311 E Expressway 83, San Juan, TX 78589

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Prayer Service

Thursday, February 8, 2024

6:00 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

Memorial Funeral Home - San Juan

311 E Expressway 83, San Juan, TX 78589

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Cremation

Memorial Cremation Center

208 E Canton Rd, Edinburg, TX 78539

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