Interview by Natasha Gonzales
Article by Celinda De La Fuente
La Familia de Guerra has had a long-standing influence on our ciudad and beyond for many decades now. We have all been impacted by the incredible Johnny Guerra (86) and his intelligent and beautiful bride of 65 years, Lillian Guerra (83), in one fashion or another, even if we did not know it. A true testament in stewardship, The Guerras of A&A Body Frame & Paint shop, a thriving business on San Antonio’s Eastside, have used their means and resources to aid those in need as they sit on numerous boards and organizations within our community.
The late Mary Nan West, the first woman in the United States to be elected as President of a Stock Show and Exposition organization, who saw the diligence and dedication Lillian Guerra always put forth recognized her as Volunteer of the Year with the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo. West then recruited Miss Lillian to be her Assistant to the President, where the Guerras served as Directors of the Livestock Show and Exposition.
“We’re real proud to have been able to be associated with the Rodeo because of what they stand for and how they help, really the country with agriculture,” Mr. Guerra happily states.
The Rodeo has also been instrumental in the financial aid of education by providing scholarships, which by now has implemented over $200 million in donations for those in need. Johnny, who was quite influential in this matter, lobbied to assist Palo Alto Community College with $300,000 in scholarships to start. Mr. Guerra, who was originally appointed by the late Paul Elizondo to the Coliseum Advisory Board (now known as the Bexar County Community Arenas Board) of which he has served as Board Chair various times, has been able to improve our city in many ways. The success of bringing professional ice hockey to San Antonio is just one of the ways Johnny Guerra has been able to strive for more for all of us. In the wake of this success, the Guerras felt the need to assist young mothers in need of financial assistance at Our Lady of the Lake University, who weren’t exactly making straight A’s, with scholarship funds.
As a Knight “with the title of Sir in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, and with Lillian who has the title of Dame,” the Guerras have been able to assist orphanages and with scholarships in the Holy Land, as well as sponsoring young men in their journey to priesthood. Aqui, en San Antonio, for over 16 years they have assisted the juventud of San Fernando Cathedral who come from all over San Antonio for their First Communion to provide resources for the less unfortunate. Their commitment to the Catholic Church and their faith is inspiring.
“Pray,” matriarch of the la familia Guerra adds, “Pray for the poor. Pray for the needed. Pray for the suffering. You’ll be a better person.”
Lillan Guerra leaves us with this kernel of wisdom which she and her familia say often, “There’s not a thing you can face today that you and God cannot handle.”
Juntos, let’s use the beautiful example the Guerras have laid out for us to better not only our community, but ourselves in the process as they urge us toward volunteerism in our community. Gracias por todo Sir Johnny y Dame Lillian Guerra.