Gertude Leal was born in Peñitas, TX on January 3, 1917. She attended La Joya school throughout her life and graduated from La Joya High School as class Salutatorian. She was offered a scholarship to attend Texas A&I University in Kingsville, however, her father being a farmer and this being in the middle of the depression, did not allow her to go. She would not realize her dream of becoming a teacher until much later in life.
Mrs. Leal was active in the schools from a very early age. She was working in La Joya as a cafeteria manager and began attending night school. She would continue this while working full time and raising three children. She was originally brought on as an emergency teacher while working on her teaching degree from Pan University, from where she would graduate after seven years. She began teaching at Citrianna Elementary (now Castro Elementary). She taught evening classes as well as English to non-native speaking students (similar to ESL). The last 24 years of her career until her retirement, she taught at Pearson Elementary.
Mrs. Leal died of a very rare brain disease called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which affects approximately one out of one million people.
As stated earlier, Mrs. Leal did manage to graduate from college while working full time and raising three children. What is lesser known is that she managed to do this while never having obtained a drivers license. Mrs. Leal was a "nervous driver", plus, they only had one car in the family (which was more common in those days) and the car would be driven by her husband, who was a salesman. Mrs. Leal managed to attend school by receiving rides to and from school or by walking to the highway (US Hwy 83) in Peñitas and take the bus to school. She was a gregarious woman who never met a stranger, according to her daughter Carmen.
Mrs. Leal married Carlos Leal and had three children;
Carlos Jr, who is a computer consultant now living in Ft. Worth, TX
Carmen, who is a retired teacher now living in Austin, TX
Richard who is a pharmacist and owns two pharmacies in San Antonio, TX
Mrs. Leal always wanted to be a teacher. She loved teaching and even though she was unable to do so right out of high school, she did manage to attain her dream of teaching in her 40's and did so devotedly until her retirement.
Source: Mrs. Carmen Rodriguez Leal, her daughter