NEWS Staff Report
On April 15, 2023, the San Benito Historical Society (SBHS), alongside the family of San Benito music icon, Freddy Fender will dedicate and unveil a historical marker for musician near his boyhood home in the El Jardin neighborhood.
As previously reported by the San Benito News in its March 17 edition, the event is free and open to the public. Organizers expect hundreds of fans and well-wishers to attend. The event is scheduled to commence at 10 a.m. at 143 Freddy Fender Lane. Parking will be available at the empty lot at the corner of Freddy Fender Lane and West Commerce.
Following the ceremony, the public is invited to visit the Freddy Fender Museum at 210 E. Heywood (The Community Building). Refreshments will be served.
Fender was born Baldemar Garza Huerta in San Benito in 1937. At 10-years-old, he started singing on a Harlingen radio station; after a stint in the U.S. Marine Corps in his late teens, he returned to music, performing throughout South Texas under a variety of stage names. He chose the name “Freddy Fender” in 1959, according to a statement by the Texas Historical Commission.
Fender’s multi-decade career spanned the country, Tejano, and rock ‘n’ roll genres. His 1974 single “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” was named one of the all-time top 100 country songs. He was inducted into the Conjunto Music Hall of Fame, Texas Music Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, according to the statement.
As first reported by the NEWS, 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 home is also adjacent to his brother’s residence, according to Sandra Tumberlinson, SBHS treasurer.
“The family was awarded the marker 10 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 10 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 that it would be apropos for one of the keynote speakers at the dedication ceremony 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.
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