Henry Lambraña taught his family the importance of God, generosity and education throughout his life.
He died April 9 in Clovis of liver cancer.
Born Nov. 15, 1942, in San Angelo, Texas, Lambraña moved the family to New Mexico in 1974, where he became a certified welder with the Curtis Machine Shop in Hobbs.
It was sometimes a struggle for Henry, his wife Mary and their five children. Family members said his family moved around a lot looking for work and he never had too many educational opportunities.
“He learned on his own after that,” said Mary, who he met at a movie theater when he was a shy 19-year-old and she was an outgoing 15-year-old. “When we came to New Mexico 30 years ago, he couldn’t read in Spanish and knew very little in English. He taught himself.”
Meanwhile, he taught his children about generosity and education. David Lambraña said he and his four siblings are bilingual and three of them have college degrees because they were taught the importance of education.
“He worked hard all his life. He didn’t have much when he was growing up,” daughter Terri Aranda said. “We went from a three-room house to a five-bedroom when we lived in Hobbs. He told us we had to work, and if we didn’t get an education, it was going to be hard to make ends meet.”
However, when he did have items to give, he found recipients. Starting in the mid-1980s, he would go on missions every year, including Honduras, China and Panama. His favorite spot, Mary said, was Santo Domingo, Mexico, a small town near Juarez that often got overlooked.
“For him,” David Lambraña said, “the biggest thing was getting to touch people with their needs —obviously their spiritual needs, but their physical needs. He’d take his own vacation time and money and help the impoverished by bringing them different supplies.”
The help was appreciated. Mary spoke of one mission to Juarez where Henry ministered to prisoners. While he was there, a riot broke out. Two prison guards were killed, Mary said, but a group of prisoners formed a circle around Henry to protect him.
He continued these activities after his retirement from welding, and moved to Clovis in 2002 to be near his grandchildren. Mary established the Merry Maids cleaning service, and Henry was an employee.
He did that until his final days, but would still find time to be generous to strangers on his missions and family members in everyday activities.
He found out on April 1 he had liver cancer, which had spread to 90 percent of his body. He declined experimental drugs, Aranda said, because he knew where he was going, and he believed God had given him the energy to do what he needed to for the family.