Memorial Services for Master Sergeant Alfonzo "Big AL" Celaya, 80, of San Angelo, will be at 11 a.m. Nov. 21, 2017 at Harper Funeral Home. Burial with full military honors will be at Lawnhaven Memorial Gardens.
Al's life on earth ended on Monday, November 13, 2017 at his home with his beautiful wife, loving daughter, sons, and family. He was born February 6, 1937, in El Paso, Texas. He attended Beall and Jefferson High School in El Paso. He graduated from Angelo State University in San Angelo in 1984. Al received extensive training and professional education in the United States Air Force and as an employee with the state of Texas.
He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in May 1954 and served continuously until December 1975. He was stationed at Lackland AFB, TX twice; F.E. Warren AFB, WY; Hickam AFB twice, Wheeler AFB, Bellows Field, and Kunia Tunnel, HI; Offutt AFB, NE; Sheppard AFB, TX; Shaw AFB, SC; Tan Son Nhut Air Base, Vietnam; Wallace Air Station, Philippines; And Goodfellow AFB, TX where he retired from active duty. He also served on temporary duty at Wake Island twice, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, VA; Keesler AFB, MS; Fort Meade, ND, and Nellis AFB, NV. During his active duty he worked as a telephone installer, teletype/ cryptographic maintenance technician, supply warehouse supervisor, and as a teletype/ cryptographic maintenance instructor. He attained the rank of Master Sergeant. He was awarded the Air Force Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Air Force Outstanding Unit award with a "V" for valor and two clusters, the Air Force Good Conduct Medal with three clusters, the Army Good Conduct Medal with three clusters, the National Defense Service Medal with bronze star, the Vietnam Service Medal with two campaign stars, the Air Force Longevity ribbon with four clusters, the Vietnam Gallantry award, and the Vietnam campaign ribbon. Al was extremely proud of his service in the Armed Forces of the United States of America, he endured many hardships, and gave up many personal needs to willingly serve his country.
After his retirement from the Air Force, Al worked for the City of San Angelo, the American GI Forum, Ethicon, the U.S. Postal Service, Tom Green County Elections Administrator, the Texas Department of Human Services, and the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services. He enjoyed his work and the challenges of different jobs. He felt his knowledge, skills and abilities were used to the utmost and that both management and employees developed a confidence in his work in civil rights when he worked for the state of Texas. He was also a member for several years of the Lions Club, American GI Forum, LULAC, and a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Air Force Sergeants Association, and the Air Force Association. Al ran for County Clerk of Tom Green county in 1982 as a democrat and was named as Acting Tom Green County Democratic Party Chairman in 1998.
He married the love of his life; his beautiful Hawaiian, Portuguese and Irish wife, the former Patsy Cummings in Waimanalo, Hawaii on July 27, 1957. Together, they had five wonderful children. Big Al enjoyed his career, he loved food and eating at his favorite restaurants. He had a hobby of reading about war and history, his daily crossword puzzles, and messing around in the backyard building "stuff' He found happiness with his family, and was proud of all his grandkids and great- grandkids achievements. He also was honored to be accepted into his wife's Hawaiian family the Cummings of Hawaii.
Survivors include his wife Patsy Celaya, of 60 years; Son, Al Jr., grandkids Al Ill (Trey), Alika, Aliegh of Nederland, TX; Son, Lester (Tammy) Celaya, grandkids Daniel, Kevin and Angela of San Angelo, TX; Son, Tracy Celaya; Daughter, Tammy (Mike) Dennis, grandkids Candice Leilani, (apple of his eye- Adelyn) and Eddie Cardenas, Randy and Kacey Dennis of San Angelo, TX and Son, Arthur Lyman Jr. (Janet), grandkids Paul, Ronald, Reina, David, Daniel, Marisa, and Robby. He is also survived by numerus great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, and many friends. He is also survived by his sisters Bety Garcia of CA., Corina Celaya of CA., Paulina (Gilberto) Ramirez of El Paso, TX. Brothers, Manuel Celaya of AZ., Judge (Lupe) Celaya of El Paso, TX., and Wee (Socorro) of El Paso, TX Along with brother-in-law Robert Osuna and sister-in-law Inez Celaya of CA.
He is preceded in death by his parents, Teresa and Pete Celaya, brother Pete Jr., and sisters Sookie Osuna, Estella Alvarez, and baby Maria Christina (Rachel).
Big Al's visitation is from 6 p.m.-8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 20, 2017, at Harper Funeral Home. Service is at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017 at Harper funeral Home with burial to follow at Lawnhaven Memorial Gardens.
The family is grateful to family and friends for the kind words and reaching out.