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Rudy "Pomposo Rudolph" Villarreal, 80, of Newton, MA, passed away on December 26, 2023. Born on January 4, 1943, in Gary, Indiana, Rudy was the son of Pomposo and Celia Villarreal, one generation from migrant farm workers who came to this country from Mexico to work the fields. He was preceded in death by his parents and his beloved grandmother, Dolores Hernandez.
Rudy, leaves behind a legacy of an incredible work ethic, intellectual curiosity, good humor and compassion. He is survived by his three daughters: Wanita (Villarreal) Kennedy of Needham, MA, and her husband Bill; Janette (Villarreal) Salcedo of Spring, Texas, and her husband Jimmy; and Diana Marie Villarreal of Shirley, MA and their mother Charlene K. Villarreal (nee Gray). Rudy was a proud grandfather to nine grandchildren: Maria (Kennedy) Kristiansen of Copenhagen, Denmark, and her husband Jogvan Pall Kristiansen; Julia (Kennedy) Burkhart of Medfield, MA, and her husband Daniel; Bill III Kennedy of Lexington, MA; James Salcedo of Spring, Texas; John Salcedo of Spring, Texas; Catherine Kennedy of Boston, MA; Thomas Salcedo of Spring, Texas; Noah Mueller of Pittsburgh, PA; and Lucas Mueller of Shirley, MA. He also leaves behind two great-grandchildren: Lena of Copenhagen, Denmark, and Lincoln Burkhart of Medfield, MA.
Additionally, Rudy, the oldest of five, is survived by his younger siblings: Edward Villarreal of Port Charlotte, Florida and his wife Livia; Diana (Villarreal) Vela and the late Joseph Vela of Orland Park, IL; Ernesto Villarreal of Orland Park, IL; and Alicia (Villarreal) Gill of California and her husband Danny. He will also be missed by countless cousins, beloved nieces, nephews, grandnieces, and grandnephews.
Rudy's commitment to education and helping others was evident throughout his life. He graduated from Saint Rita's Catholic high school in 1960 in Chicago, IL, and, as an older student with a career and family went on to earn a bachelor's degree from Saint Elizabeth's College in Madison, NJ and a Master's degree in rehabilitative counseling from Assumption College in Worcester, MA.
In 1960, Rudy enlisted in the United States Army and served overseas in Germany as a medic. His dedication to serving his country was commendable, and his military service shaped his character and values. In his later years he delighted in proudly wearing his United States Army baseball cap and engaging with those who inquired about his service to his country.
Rudy was a curious, well-read, friendly and outgoing man with a dry, sharp wit that made his friends and family laugh throughout his life. He was deeply respected by his colleagues over a long career, his work was very important to him. He especially enjoyed his later career when he helped place people in jobs who needed assistance due to physical or mental health issues. He was very proud of the work he did with veterans, guiding them find meaningful employment in the private sector.
Rudy had many hobbies over a long life, many of which he shared with his children including camping, tennis, woodworking, music, movies, reading, politics and history and acquiring various pets.
His grandchildren will remember his skills at making ribs, his interest in their lives, his great conversations and his thoughtful gifts, especially coolers full of tamales.
Rudy's belief in Catholicism was deeply rooted in his family, childhood and Mexican culture and was something he particularly embraced during his later years. His family takes solace in knowing he was comforted and at peace at the end of his life, surrounded by the heartfelt prayers and blessings of so many.
To honor Rudy's life, a Mass of Christian Burial will be held at Saint Joseph's Catholic Church in Needham, MA, at 10 am, followed by a burial at the National Cemetery in Bourne, MA, at 1:15 pm. These services will provide an opportunity for family, friends, and colleagues to come together to celebrate Rudy's life and pay their respects.
Rudy Villarreal will be remembered for his kindness, love, and unwavering commitment to his family and country. His presence will be deeply missed, but his spirit will live on in the hearts of all who had the privilege of knowing him.