Mr. Leal was born Sept. 19, 1932, in Kenedy, to Victoria (Morin) and Joe Leal Sr. He graduated from Kenedy High School and attended Del Mar College in Corpus Christie. He served in the U.S. Army from 1954-56 during the Korean War and was stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso. He married Lupe Treviño on Jan. 15, 1956, and worked for H.B Zachary Construction Company, building the Atlas Missile Silos in Taylor County and was also the owner of Little Joe Movers, Inc.
He was a member of Holy Family Catholic Church, where he served as a Eucharist minister, and the Knights of Columbus 4th Degree Council #2163, serving as Grand Knight for two years. He was member of the American Legion, the VFW, served as President for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and was a member of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce for many years. He enjoyed antiquing, going to auctions, barbecuing, politics and was an activist for the Hispanic Community. He was the first Hispanic to run for public office.
He was preceded in death by his parents; and two sisters, Amelia Friesenhahn and Mary Luna Atchison.
Survivors include his wife of 55 years, Lupe T. Leal; three daughters, Mary Helen Leal, Annie (Tim) Halbert and Sylvia Leal; four grandsons, Ruben Leal, Joe Arther Leal, Joseph Arellano and Luke Hull; four grand daughters, Diana Garcia, Lori Grothaus, Brittany Ureta and Sara Knox; six great-grandchildren; one brother, A. L. Leal; three sisters, Pauline Janssen of Corpus Christie, Mayme Vela of San Antonio and Elodia (Teddy) Guzman Bakersville, Calif.; and many nieces and nephews.
Visitation was held from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 23, at Elmwood Funeral Home Chapel. A rosary was recited there following visitation and a prayer service was held at 7 o’clock.
The funeral Mass was held at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, June 24, at Holy Family Catholic Church. Burial with military honors followed at 1 o’clock in the Texas State Veterans Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to Hendrick Hospice Care, P.O. Box 1922, Abilene, Texas 79604.
Online condolences and memories may be shared with the family at www.elmwoodfuneral.com.