Jose Gonzalez was a man with a tough exterior, but a tender heart with which he dearly loved his family. He celebrated more than 37 years of marriage with the love of his life with whom he established the family that became his greatest pride and joy. Jose left a part of his heart in his homeland, Puerto Rico, and yearned to visit the land he called home throughout the first 17 years of his life. One of the things that Jose was most known for was his strong work ethic, working tirelessly for many years as evidenced by the worn hands he also used to touch the lives of those around him.
During the 1950s, Puerto Rico underwent drastic changes that would forever change the face of their nation. It was in the year 1950 that the Federal Government approved the 600 Law authorizing Puerto Rico to draft its own constitution. The Puerto Rican Constitution was drafted and a referendum was celebrated for approval by the Puerto Rican people. On July 25, 1952, the “Estado Libre Asociado” or Commonwealth of Puerto Rico was officially implemented and inaugurated by Governor Luis Muñoz Marin. This was also a significant time in the family of Martin and Maria (Aviles) Gonzalez as they welcomed the birth of their son, Jose Rafael, on October 18th. Jose was born in Moca, Puerto Rico, located in the northwestern region of the island, as the eighth of nine children in his family, which included five sisters and three brothers. Jose was a fun-loving child who enjoyed playing with his siblings and friends. One thing Jose did not enjoy as a boy, however, was school. He attended local schools only until the seventh grade.
Great changes were in store for both Jose and his family when they moved from his beloved Puerto Rico to Chicago, Illinois, in 1969 when Jose was 17. It was in 1970 that Jose moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he lived with his older brother Israel and sister-in-law Iris. He established a life there, which quickly came to include a young woman who would forever hold the key to his heart. One fateful evening in 1971, Jose attended a Spanish dance where he couldn’t help but notice a captivating young woman. Her name was Adela Torres and after that initial introduction, a romance blossomed between the young couple. After a brief courtship, Jose and Adela were married on June 10, 1972, in his hometown of Moca, Puerto Rico. They did not have a big wedding, but that would come much later in life as a true celebration of an enduring love.
Once in Milwaukee, Jose secured employment as a welder for Milwaukee Boiler. He was a dedicated worker with a strong work ethic, which was evidenced by looking at his hands that told just how hard he worked. On two separate occasions, Jose was injured on the job. He never wanted compensation from the company during his time of recovery, only the security of his job. Jose remained in his position for a total of 29 years.
In addition to their roles as husband and wife, Jose and Adela were blessed to become father and mother to four wonderful children: Carmen M., Carmen H., Luz E., and Jose L. As a father, Jose was quite strict, but only out of a heart that truly desired to raise his children to be the best they could be. He was never one to outwardly display his affection for his children while they were young, but once his children were older they realized just how deeply he loved them. Jose’s daughters reflect on their father and see that he was their constant protector, and all of his children cherish knowing that their father would be there whenever they needed him. It is often said that the greatest flattery is imitation, and it is truly a tribute to Jose that his children all imitate the kind of parent he had always been.
Throughout his life, family was such an important part of piece to who Jose was. He dearly loved his brothers and sisters and often fondly recalled all the fun they had together. Jose frequently sang a special song, “My Sister and I,” and longed to visit his homeland just one more time. When his family grew to include grandchildren, Jose delighted in spending time with them. He was a great babysitter and was stern with his grandchildren, just as he had been with his own children. Jose’s grandchildren affectionately call him “Papa” and once they were no longer together, Jose and his grandchildren greatly missed one another.
It was no secret that the most significant person in Jose’s life was his beloved Adela. She made it well-known that Jose was the love of her life, as well as her best friend. Jose had a good and kind heart and although they often disagreed, he and Adela only used those times to their advantage as making up was so much fun. In celebration of their 25th wedding anniversary, Jose and Adela enjoyed the grand celebration they had always longed for.
Although Jose certainly worked hard over the years, he did find time to enjoy life, too. He was a sports enthusiast who enjoyed watching the Milwaukee Brewers and the Green Bay Packers. Jose was an avid bowler and loved to play both dominoes and cards whenever he was able.
Jose Gonzalez was a remarkable man with a heart of gold who fully immersed himself into whatever he was doing. Known as “Papa” to his grandchildren, he was a man who took great pride in his family. Jose was a good and kind man with nothing but the best interests of others as the motivation behind his every thought, word, and deed. He will be dearly missed and warmly remembered by those he leaves behind.
Jose Gonzalez died Tuesday March 2, 2010 at Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital in Milwaukee surrounded by his family. Jose’s family includes his wife, Adela; children, Carmen M. (Pedro Chacon) Gonzalez, Carmen H. (Javier) Pinales, Luz E. Varela, and Jose L. (Maricela) Gonzalez; grandchildren, Irania S. Villavicencio, Jonathan J. Pinales, Jose J. Gonzalez, Giovanni Varela, Savier J. Pinales, Jose A. Gonzalez, Israel Varela, Adelais Gonzalez, Ariana Chacon and Gabriel J. Chacon; siblings, Antonio (Angelina) Gonzalez, Maria (Ricardo) Valentin, Manuela (the late Concepcion) Morales, Isaura (William) Morales, the late Israel (Iris) Gonzalez, Nilda (Eddie) Gonzalez Ramirez and Gloria (Juan) Gonzalez Muniz; and other relatives and friends here and in Puerto Rico.
Visit with Jose’s family and friends on Friday, March 5 at St. Francis Church 1933 N. 4th Street from 4 – 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. until time of the Funeral Mass at 10:00 a.m. Interment Holy Cross Cemetery. Arrangements provided by Suminski Family Funeral Home, 414-276-5122. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com where you can leave a favorite memory or photo or sign the online guestbook.
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