Claudette Espitia was born February 10, 1922 to immigrant parents, Anastacia and Pascual Espitia in Fort Worth, Texas. Her siblings were Mona, Lydia, Julio, and Frank. Claudette married her husband Charlie, the love of her life, on December 14, 1941. She was married to Charlie for 66 years until he passed on January 28, 2007. Charlie was drafted in 1942 and he spent 3 years in World War II serving in New Guinea.
Their first son, Carlos was born in 1943, and she spent 2 years raising the first born on her own until her husband returned home from the war in 1945. When he returned, Charlie Sr. had a 2 year old son and a home she had purchased while he was away.
Claudette had 2 more sons, Richard, born in 1946, Ruben born in 1949 and years later had 2 more sons Jamie, born in 1958 and David born in 1960.
Claudette and her husband moved to Dallas in 1959 where they raised their 5 boys (and no daughters). Soon daughters were provided by way of her loving daughter-in-laws: Janice, Mireya, Florine, LaNelle, Raquel, Diana & Sheryl. Claudette’s marriage served as a model of life commitment to spouse and family.
The family lived a very modest life but Claudette was determined to give her sons the best life she possibly could. While her husband worked, she was an unselfish, dedicated housewife and mom, always making sure her sons went to catholic private schools. Claudette was a devout catholic women. She prayed the Rosary daily and nightly for her family and friends.
She always prepared breakfast for the family before school, daily sack lunches, and a freshly prepared evening dinner.
She also made sure her boys and husband had clean, lightly starched shirts at all times.
She always made sure the boys didn’t stay out too late at night and were walking a straight line in life. Raising 5 boys, she had to get creative in keeping track of them because “boys will be boys.” An example of this: in high school, the two younger boys kept coming in late at night and Claudette couldn’t stay awake to catch them coming in past curfew so she put a cot in front of the door and slept there until they opened the door causing it to hit the cot and wake her up. It was said by Claudette more than once, “you’re not going to outsmart me.” Despite her busy schedule raising 5 boys, Claudette also found time to be a Den Mother for the Cub Scouts and to take the boys to their numerous athletic practices and games.
Claudette and her husband Charlie enjoyed taking the family on road trips. Their most notable road trip was to Mexico City, deep into Mexico, in the 50’s in a Studebaker. More than once they traveled by car to California to visit family and also to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. She was also able to travel alone one summer to Spain and Portugal. Surely, a needed break.
Holidays were always a blessing. Claudette and her husband always made sure there was family Thanksgiving Dinner and Christmas Dinner for her sons and their families: 12 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren. These family traditions will continue on as a cherished family tradition.
In 1973 Claudette and her husband opened a successful Mexican restaurant named Galvan’s El Unico in North Dallas on Walnut Hill Lane, and then a second location in Irving, followed by locations near Love Field Airport and in Plano, Texas. The restaurant had many regular, family customers. One of their most notable customers was Mickey Mantle and his family. Mantle enjoyed dining there because he was left to dine in peace with his family. Mantle and his family came to know Charlie and Claudette very well as the owners of his favorite mexican restaurant. The restaurant was always closed on holidays, but one holiday Mickey Mantle called Charlie and asked if we would open, prepare and serve a private anniversary dinner for him and his wife, which Charlie and Claudette did.
Claudette, her husband and their sons worked the family owned business for 25 years until they sold it and retired. She and her husband truly lived the American Dream. This career of Restaurateurs was instilled and continued with some of the sons and one grandson who have opened various past and present restaurants even today. In closing, when Wendy got married, who she is now reunited with, wrote a note to her and said one of the things she always admired about her Grandma was that she always presented herself as a proper LADY and she strove to live life in the same manner.
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