“Life is one grand, sweet song, so start the music.” – Ronald Reagan
Music is very similar to life. There are some high notes and some low notes, but each note contributes to a sweet melody. Sometimes rhythms are fast-paced and go too fast, while other times the beat is slow, and you relish the time you have to listen to the music. The lyrics or style of music reflects your passions and beliefs as the music reaches the depths of your soul. Even as the music ends and the last note fades away, you still have the song and its beauty resonating in your heart and mind. However, no song or melody could have been as sweet or pure as the heart of a man who charmed many with his charismatic smile, his wonderful voice, or his deep love. Abundio Herrera Ortiz, Jr., a loving husband, father, grandfather, veteran, and friend, lived an amazing life—a life truly as sweet as the music he played.
All music and life starts with a beat. On Tuesday, March 3, 1936 in San Antonio, Texas, the little heartbeat of a baby boy leaped as he entered into the world and into his parents’ arms. His parents, Trinidad and Abundio Herrera Ortiz, Sr. were overjoyed with their new little son. From the beginning of his life, Abundio Jr.’s world was filled with music. His father was a musician and after moving to Dallas and watching his father perform at the Texas Centennial Celebration at Fair Park, Abundio Jr. decided he wanted to learn the guitar and play music. Abundio Jr. began to take guitar lessons from his godfather, Antonio Hernandez. He was joined in his lessons by two close family friends. As he became proficient in his guitar lessons, Abundio joined a youth band known as Son Cope Cabaña with Trini Lopez, who would go on to become a musician and actor. Within the Little Mexico projects of Dallas, families could hear Abundio practicing his guitar as he sung along to the music. Not only did he practice his music within his neighborhood, but he also played sports as well. Abundio played football, baseball, and soccer. As a member of the Optimist Club soccer team, he earned the title of Top Scorer in the state of Texas and helped his team win many games. Within his neighborhood, Abundio became well known and developed many friendships that would last a lifetime. While attending Crozier Tech High School in Downtown Dallas, Abundio enlisted into the United States Navy on March 18, 1955. Abundio and his friend, Gilbert Rosales went through boot camp together in San Diego, California. During his time in bootcamp, Abundio earned the Honorman Award for the 3rd Division. In the Navy, Abundio put his love of baseball to use as he played for the Navy’s baseball team. When he wasn’t playing baseball, playing his guitar, or performing his duties with the Navy, Abundio worked as a concession stand clerk and a ticket taker at the door of a theater. Like notes falling into place to make one perfect chord, Abundio happened to work in the same theater as Irma Mary Martinez, the ticket cashier girl, who became the love of his life. The two courted while Abundio finished his time with the Navy. His last assignment was with a Baltimore Class Heavy Cruiser, the USS Columbus. While on the cruiser, he was involved with the ship’s supply requirement where he kept up with the inventory of parts, uniforms, and other items that made life on the ship possible. Similar to his normal job on the ship, if it came down to a fight with the enemy, Abundio’s battle station was in the magazine where they kept the artillery shells and gun powder. It was his job to make sure everyone got what they needed, even in a time of crisis. After four years proudly serving our country, Abundio was discharged from the Navy on March 13, 1959, but he continued to stay in reserve service until March 17, 1963. As soon as Abundio was discharged from the Navy, he pursued another adventure, but this time with Irma. On March 21, 1959, Abundio and Irma became husband and wife at St. Jude Catholic Church in San Diego. Once married, they hopped on a train and headed for Dallas, Texas. With his new life as a husband just beginning, Abundio started to provide for his wife by working at Taylor Publishing. Shortly after, he switched jobs and went to The Reynold Penland Menswear where he started as an Apprentice Tailor. He began his career in the art of fitting and tailoring men’s clothing. With his skill in tailoring, Abundio worked at Neiman Marcus where he helped other men look their best. However, the love of music never left Abundio as he grew and matured into a husband and father. As he worked at Neiman Marcus to provide for his family, he also began playing professionally as an entertainer. As his spare time began getting more and more packed with gigs and performance dates, he found that it was very difficult to balance his two jobs, much less his family life as well. After many discussions with Irma, they both decided that he should pursue his passion and keep performing. He quit his job at Neiman Marcus and followed his dream of being a musician. Although times were difficult, he never regretted his choice. Through the years, Abundio performed at many clubs and functions as people listened and danced to his music. He performed for several notable people and groups. Abundio played for the Dallas Cowboys football team, American actress Carol Channing, and many Dallas judges and lawyers. As a veteran, he found joy and honor in performing for servicemen at the El Toro Lounge in Mineral Wells, Texas. The El Toro wasn’t the only venue that welcomed Abundio however. Many other places like Mariano’s Mexican Restaurant and Café Cancun always had their doors open to Abundio and his talent. Just like venues, other musical groups recognized Abundio’s gift. The Heavy Metal Band Pantera saw Abundio perform and were intrigued by his guitar technique. He would play as a solo musician, in duos and duets, in trios, big bands, and mariachi groups. Abundio excelled at it all. Countless local musicians and venues worked with Abundio and were blessed to experience his talent. His life as a performer took him all around North America as he performed in Wisconsin, Florida, and Puerto Vallarta. After many, many years of entertaining crowds and bringing joy to others through his music, Abundio gave his last performance at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, Texas.
Although music was a passion for Abundio, his real love was for his family. He loved his family so deeply much and spent his life caring for them. Of all the gigs, cheers, and applause, nothing made Abundio’s heart soar as much as hearing his wife’s voice or his children’s laughter. Abundio had a “heart of gold and helped so many people in his life.” He developed many friendships throughout his life from his childhood home in the Little Mexico projects, to his high school at Crozier Tech, the Navy, his occupations, and his many musical ambitions. As T.S. Eliot wrote once, “You are the music while the music lasts.” Those who have been so blessed to know Abundio wish that his sweet song of life could play on forever, but to the sorrow and heartache of his family, Abundio passed away on Thursday, April 30, 2020 in Grand Prairie, Texas. Abundio’s life has left a legacy of passion, hard work, music, and love. Like a beautiful melody that reaches your soul, Abundio will always be in his families’ hearts and minds. He is the song that will never lose its beauty no matter the passing of time or changes in the world. Abundio Herrera Ortiz, Jr. and his golden heart have been and will always be timeless and precious.
Abundio Herrera Ortiz, Jr. is survived by his beloved wife of 61 years, Irma Mary Ortiz; his loving son, Adam M. Ortiz, Sr.; his grandson, Adam M. Ortiz, Jr., and his wife, Nancy Mercado; his great-grandson, Maximus Alexander Ortiz; his sisters, Yolanda Villareal and Elida Hernandez Garza; and many friends. Abundio Herrera Ortiz, Jr. is preceded in death by his father, Abundio H. Ortiz, Sr.; his mother, Trinidad Amaya Vidal; his stepfather, Perfecto “Beto” Vidal; his brothers, Raul Aguilar, Rudy Fernandez, and Mauricio Amaya Ortiz; and his sister, Dolores “Lola” Ramirez.
Abundio Herrera Ortiz, Jr. and his amazing life will be honored on Sunday, May 17, 2020 with a Life Celebration from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM at Hughes Family Tribute Center. His funeral service will be conducted on Monday, May 18, 2020 at 11:00 AM at Hughes Family Tribute Center. Abundio Herrera Ortiz, Jr. will be laid to rest at the Dallas-Fort Worth National Cemetery in Dallas, Texas.
May Abundio’s life, love, and legacy never be forgotten by those who have been blessed to know him and hear his music.
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