Remembering Israel Cruz’s ‘golden heart’

Israel Cruz

“He had a ‘golden heart.’” These are the words that Fr. Romeo Salinas used to describe our nephew, Israel  Cruz, during his funeral mass at St. George Catholic Church on Aug. 23

What thoughts come to your mind when you hear this beautiful description of “La Honey,” the nickname given to Israel so many years ago?

Yes, he had “a heart of gold” because he was full of life with a smile or a joke to share with you. There was a popular television show called “Sanford and Son” and he was always kidded with this, because he loved “looking for a good deal” that he could trade with you. 

Many times his wife (our niece Dora) would roll her eyes because she knew that it was another item that was going to go on their outside lawn, or garage until he repaired it or upgraded it to sell later. 

“Lel” was  born on April 19, 1959, and he was the joy of his maternal grandparents, the late Jesus and Francisca Chavera and his paternal abuelitos, my parents, Aniseto and Antonia Cruz. Israel was the first grandson born into the Cruz family, and the pride also of my brother Marcos, his dad, and his mom, Dora Cruz.

The following year, they were blessed with their daughter Norma, and these were our first nephew and niece that we all loved to babysit when Marcos and Dora went out to a dance or a dinner date, etc. It was such a joy because they were so close in age, and their love for each other was seen as Israel gave her “advice” on how to get things done. 

I still vividly remember, seeing the frightened look on Dora’s face as Israel “would go limp and his face would turn blue,” as she reached for him and held him in her arms, shaking him until he recovered.”... By then Dora was promising him, that he could get whatever he wanted. 

Soon after, Israel decided to pass this advice on to his little sister, Norma. He told her that “Mommy will give you anything you want if you ‘hold your breath until you go limp.’” Of course, by then Dora and Marcos had notified their family doctor, either Dr. Adlof or Dr. Muecke, and I still remember the day that Dora carried out the doctor’s advice.

We were outside on the lawn, and as Israel started to go limp, Dora opened the outside faucet, wet her hand with water and spanked his butt. I could still see the fear in Dora’s eyes, but as Lel quickly recovered, I don’t think he did it too often after that. I still have the 16x20 photo in Mom’s bedroom of a smiling Israel and Norma when they were 3 or 4 years old and I always remember Israel “holding his breath” to get a new toy.

We were so happy when Israel married Dora (Saenz) on Aug. 31, 1988, and we kidded them that now we had “two” Dora Cruzes (his mom Dora Cruz and his beautiful bride, Dora Cruz) and “two” Gloria Cruzes (my brother Abraham’s wife Gloria Cruz and my brother Bruno’s wife, Gloria Cruz).

Israel and Dora were blessed with Eric and we were so proud that our daughter Lorene Tonia was born on April 25, 1989, and Eric was born a year and a day later, April 26, 1990.

When they were blessed with their daughter Megan, we again saw the same love that they shared for each other as brother and sister. ... Israel’s love of family continued as he shared beautiful memories with his brother, Danny (Angie) Cruz, sister Norma (Richard) Tanguma, his step-mother Alice Cruz and his sister Jennifer (Estaban) Lucas.

Every photo we see of him and Dora with their grandchildren Hayleigh Cruz, Tesla and Kysen and their daughter -in-law Ashley Cruz (Eric’s wife) radiates with love. 

His love of singing karaoke expressed his love for Dora as he sang “Pretty Woman,” especially dedicated to her during her special birthday celebration at the Ray Point center on Aug. 7, 2021. These memories will remain forever.

As we traveled from the church to his final resting place at the TR cemetery, love for Israel continued to radiate as his co-workers with Valero Refinery (where he was employed for 41 years) and friends stood by the side of US Highway 281 and by TR City Hall, and businesses along the route, as the long car procession continued.

Fr. Romeo again repeated at the gravesite, “Israel had a heart of gold.” I will remember that forever. I’m positive that you agree with that, too. RIP sobrino. ... Adios!

Recommended for you