Southwest Texas lost a pillar in the educational community when Dr. Ismael Sosa Jr. peacefully passed surrounded by his family on December 15, 2020. Dr. Sosa was a family man, a gracious friend, an accomplished BBQ-er, a card shark, a breakfast taco fanatic, a tenacious linebacker, a committed educator, a selfless servant, and most importantly, a man of God. Ismael came from humble beginnings, growing up with his parents, three brothers, and two sisters in Cotulla, Texas. His father was instrumental in his life, fostering a strong work ethic and preaching the importance of a good education as well as teaching him the trade of carpentry. Ismael used those lessons and skills to fashion a life built on selfless service.
He began his journey in the foothills of the Davis Mountains, at Sul Ross State University, in Alpine, Texas. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and master’s degree in English, but more importantly, he met and earned the affection of his future wife and soulmate, Eunice. They began their new life in Uvalde when a job offer was made to fill a position for an Instructor of English and Spanish at the local junior college. When he began his life’s work, his focus was improving people’s opportunity to get an education, regardless of their background. It was the key to his own success. His passion to improve the lives of others was quickly recognized. He was offered Director of Community Services, where he initiated the formation of the Basic Adult Education curriculum. Thereafter, he became Assistant Dean of Students, then Dean of Admissions and Student Services, all while earning a PhD in Education Administration from Texas A&M University. He was elected President of SWTJC in August 1999. Living by his Grandmother Sara Garcia’s philosophy, “haz el bien sin mirar a quien” meaning to always do good and help others no matter who they are, he committed himself to service in the community he had come to love. He served on numerous committee boards that included: Uvalde United Way, El Progresso Library, Lions Club, ESC Region 20 Board of Directors and Uvalde CISD School board, as a member and then as President. He lived to serve. Ismael embodied the phrase “si se puede”. He never backed down from a challenge, pushed others to be the very best, and always gave high praise. There was no end to which Dr. Sosa would go to assist students. He established an emergency fund to help students in need by allocating funds from the vending machines or from his own pocket. He even registered his own son in a business calculus class, to help make the class, so students could earn the credit they needed.
During his 45-year career at SWTJC, he also enjoyed serving the community as a football referee and boxing judge. Ismael garnered the respect of his peers and the community. He was recognized by both the Middle Rio Grande Development Council and The National Hispanic Institute with a Lifetime achievement award and was also awarded Uvaldean of the Year.
While Ismael appreciated the recognition and enjoyed the awards, he simply enjoyed being able to help others, especially those less fortunate than him. He cherished his humble upbringing and his family the most. His life was about service through education, and he was always ready to help, always ready to lead. His life has touched so many and what a journey it has been, sometimes a climb. Ismael was fond of saying, “the higher the climb, the broader the view!” Broad is an understatement for Dr. Sosa’s eternal view. He will be dearly missed, but his legacy will continue with the thousands of lives he guided.
Dr. Sosa is survived by his loving wife of 54 years, Eunice, their daughter Dr. Virginia Sosa and husband Dr. Steven Cox, two sons Dr. Ismael Sosa III and Joshua Sosa, along with their grandchildren Ryan Cox, Landon Cox, Jillian Sosa, and Sophia Sosa. Dr. Sosa is also survived by his three brothers: Dr. Jose Sosa and wife Becky, Juan Sosa and wife Isilda, and Dr. Isaac Sosa and wife Sameta, and sister, Mary Lou Carpenter and husband Dr. George Carpenter, and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Ysmael and Virginia Sosa, and his sister, Estella McNabb.
A viewing will be held on Friday, December 18, 2020 from 10am to 5pm and on Saturday, December 19, 2020 from 8am to 12pm at Rushing-Estes-Knowles Mortuary. A private funeral will be held on Saturday at the First Baptist Church of Uvalde.
Pallbearers will be Steven Cox, Ryan Cox, Landon Cox, Robby Flores, Oscar Garcia, Andre Plaza, Tres Sosa, and Joshua Sosa.
Honorary pallbearers will be Joe Barker, Sergio Benavides, Blaine Bennett, Gilbert Bermea, John Currie, Danny Flores, Jose Garcia, Juan Garcia, Pete Garcia, George Garza, Juan Garza, Hector Gonzales, Tony Gonzalez, Frank Hidalgo, Alejandro Plaza, Isaac Sosa, Joe Sosa, and Juan Sosa.
To continue Dr. Sosa’s tireless effort to better his community, a scholarship in his name has been established to help students attending Southwest Texas Junior College. Memorials may be made to the Ismael Sosa, Jr. Scholarship Fund at https://www.swtjc.edu/about/news/memorial-ismael-sosa.html or by mail to: SWTJC, 2401 Garner Field Road, Uvalde, TX 78801. Please designate Ismael Sosa, Jr. on the memo line.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Dr. Ismael Sosa, Jr., please visit our floral store.