Tom Chavez, 97, stepped into the arms of Jesus on August 11, 2019. Born on a reservation in Bernalillo County, New Mexico, April 25, 1922 to Tomas V. and Louisa Martinez Chavez, Tom was a Jicarilla Apache Indian. Graduating in 1941 from El Paso High School as an all-state basketball guard, he played on athletic scholarship at Hardin Simmons University for one year before enlisting in the US Air Force, training as a glider pilot at South Plains Army Airfield in Lubbock. After WWII, Cpl. Chavez returned home to play two more years of ball at College of the Mines (now UTEP), while obtaining both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in English/Education.
Tom launched a very successful coaching career at El Paso’s Jefferson High School that included basketball, football and track, then led the Mexican national basketball team in the 1959 Pan American Games, and 1960 Olympics in Rome, Italy. In 1970, he became principal of El Paso’s Burges High School, mentoring students, teachers and staff for two decades.
“Chief”, loved to read, RV, camp, fish, play slots and boot scoot to classic country. He worked out faithfully, pumping iron into his 90’s.
The family thanks Steve and Ester Bishop, and Bob of Rocking Chair Senior Care Cottage, along with Hospice of Lubbock for their loving care. Your kindness was a reflection of Christ to Tom and the family.
Tom was preceded in death by his parents and siblings, Lucy, Eloise, Louis, Bobby and David. He is survived by daughters, Cheryl Sliva and husband David of Houston, and Robin Grimes and husband Robert of Lubbock; grandchildren, Katheryne Rister and Tom Elibee of Lubbock; and his wife of 44 years – the love of his life – Jeanie.
A celebration of his life will be held on Friday, September 13, 2019 at 11:30 a.m. in the sanctuary of First Christian Church, 2323 Broadway in Lubbock. A reception will follow in the Chapel Parlor. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Hospice of Lubbock or the Alzheimer’s Association, West Texas Chapter.