by - Dorian Nuñez
Good afternoon, Today we gather to celebrate the life of Rafael Angel Nuñez, Teacher Nuñez, Principal Nuñez, Sir, Dad. One final assembly for “el Gran Maestro!”
It has been most comforting to hear from all his friends, family and students. You’ve made me realize that the man I knew as dad was so different from what most of you knew. So I’d like to share a glimpse of Angel the Dad and husband with you.
Waffle, can I borrow a power tool? Waffle how do I save this plant? Waffle what do you remember about so and so? If you haven’t caught on, we called him Waffle, a nickname bestowed upon him by his grandson Gaven. As a tiny toddler, Gaven could not pronounce his first name (Rafael) so Waffle it was and so it stuck.
Waffle was a romantic, loving man who adored his wife Ligia immeasurably. She and his children were his world and he showed it daily with actions so much more than with his words.
At school he may have taught with words and textbooks, but at home he never told us what to do or what not to. He modeled determination, honesty, sharing with others, good manners, love and kindness and so we learned, hoping to be just a little like him.
Dad was the cook in the family. He made all the local favorites and the mess in the kitchen was almost always as great as the meals, but that just meant mom would spend more time with him in the kitchen cleaning up after him. They existed as one and did everything together.
Sunday’s were his favorite days as we gathered at the gazebo in his garden. Food, drinks, family and lots of laughs mostly thanks to his seemingly endless supply of jokes.
(Read by Gaven Zapata, Grandson) - "My grandfather, WAFFLE, is one of the biggest role models in my life. He was my personal teacher enlightening me with all of his lessons, tips and tricks from an early age. It was only until I was older I was able to teach him the vastly unknown knowledge of… the INTERNET! As a trade for my knowledge, he would cook me delicious meals to enjoy. Waffle would only cook the most divine meals for me, and yes that included waffles on the menu. As a young boy, he would put me to bed on his beloved hammock with stimulating stories while he re-enacted the scenes for me. He would rock, and shake, and twist and swing the hammock to add an unforgettable emotion I still remember to this day. We did gardening, cooking, writing, swimming, and a list of activities that could go on forever. My grandfather was the best grandfather I could have gotten, he will always live on in my heart and I will continue to learn something new everyday with him by my side, watching over me like the angel he is."
Waffle and mom also shared a special bond and I have some words from her to share.
"From a very young age, my dad took me under his wing. From hammering nails on the roof, to painting t-shirts in the living room. We did it all and he would always cheer me on. He was my biggest fan. I was daddy’s girl. He encouraged me to pursue all my dreams and helped me to develop my artistic talent as well as my musical talent. I knew I could always count on him. I will miss him dearly but will live cherishing all the good times and the lessons he thought me. Thank you dad for allowing me to always be by your side. I promise I will keep making you proud."
I’m honored to call him dad knowing fully that my sister and I were not the only ones that he fathered. I cannot think of a better way to honor dad than to read the testimonials that have been shared with my family and I, by some who’s lives he touched.
Pamela Zetina shared
“You were my friend, my teacher, my tutor, my inspiration, my dad, I am sorry I am not there but my spirit is with you all.”
Lincoln E Eiley wrote
“Gracias por ser un gran ejemplo para toda su familia, Tia Ligia, Dorian, Perlita. Gracias por querer a mi mama tanto y tenerla cerca de su corazón. Gracias por vivir con alegria. Gracias por inspirar. Gracias por sus bromas. Gracias por ser el mejor maestro de clase y dar un gran ejemplo a su comunidad. Gracias Tio. Hasta pronto. Que en paz descanse su alma.”
Pastor Clive Welsh
Maestro Angel Nunez, a life that has touched generations upon generations, countless lives that have impacted us all. We will all grieve, mourn, treasure memories, but most of all give thanks for a life well lived.
“I will miss our chats, ur calls, ur visits and just overall, who you were..fly high Maestro and rise in glory”
“Your father was one of the best men I’ve ever known. He was a champion for Hope Haven and my first hero. I have an inbox full of supportive messages from him when it was hard and I didn’t think I could get the project off the ground. He was so kind and encouraging when things were rough and l thought about quitting. His support is one of the main reasons the children’s shelter exists and I will always be grateful to him. San Pedro community lost a legend. Your father was truly a great man and we will always remember him for his positive impact in all of our lives.”
“He was not just an amazing individual, I believe he was an instrument to San Pedro’s Growth within the last couple Decades, both with instructing people and also mentoring many to become the faces of San Pedro!”
Dillie Nunez Salazar
“Time can never fade the memories of you. You have touched our lives in so many ways it’s impossible to ever forget you.”
“It’s with a very heavy heart I join San Pedro in grieving the loss of Maestro Angel Nunez. this amazing man founded the high school in 1971 and was principal for decades. He was the father of education in San Pedro, and made an extraordinary impact on generations of Belizeans. He welcomed me and my research, and we asked and answered questions together about young people’s well-being for many years. I loved him dearly, and his love and belief in me has made a wonderful impact in my life. He embodied a life well-lived.”
Miss San Pedro, Faith Edgar
“Definitely a great loss for the entire island. Thank you Mr. Angel Nunez for believing in me and always providing me with the best advice. I will miss you so much!”
Maestro, you will leave an empty space on this island. San Pedro high-school will have, many, many principals in the years coming but none will be able to wear your shoes.
You saw the best in every single student, you pushed us to be our best and do our best. You believed in us. For you SPHS was not just your job but it was your baby and you knew every single student by name.
“Mr. Angel was such a precious person who not only was the founder of High School and the best principal ever but also a friend. Always willing to be there, to help and to listen. My respect and love for you always”
Melody Sanchez Wolfe
“Oh Sir…How you will be missed. I’m so lucky to have so many great memories with you including introducing and teaching you to use Facebook. You were more willing to try it out than a certain son of yours lol. You never stopped teaching but even more importantly you never lost your zest to learn new things!
The legacy you leave behind is incredible. Maybe you were not the father of our nation but you were certainly a father figure to so many. You helped so many people turn their life around. You had this way of giving people hope and teaching them to believe in themselves.
You were always an Angel on earth and now you officially have your wings. Thank You for believing in us.”
Don Angel Nunez created quite the impression on me when we first met as a child… his warmth, kindness and positivity have always been admirable to me. Your family opened your home to me to spend time in San Pedro, memories which I treasure (still remember him printing t-shirts).
Only God knows why and we trust him always. We all stay with the beautiful memories and will forever keep you in our hearts. I will forever be grateful to you for giving me the opportunity to work at SPHS and be your secretary and after so many years I remain here committed as the very first day! You touched thousands of lives and I am among the lucky ones.
I had a complicated relationship with him. I looked up to him and yet I completely drove him crazy. Don't worry he always said Jesus had a place waiting for him. He is up there now feet up enjoying the view with a big smile on his face. He always told me he thought I was very intelligent and needed to put it to good use and stop being the grasshopper who played all summer. I whitewashed that school for him more times than I can count! You know one time I was up a ladder and it broke and I got caught by my ring I was wearing. It was cut right into my finger and I was panicking. He didn't think twice, cleaned off the paint, stuck my bleeding finger in his mouth and pulled out the ring and got it off. I was amazed. He was very fatherly, you were lucky to have him. I wish I had had a dad in my life like him. And I wish I had listened to him more.
“Never did apologized for all the trouble I caused and more than one time was on the verge of getting kicked out of school, this man gave me more chances than I deserved but in the end I'm sure I made him smile one day.”
I heard SO MANY good things about him while there - people would whisper to me “that’s the maestro” when driving past him - everyone seemed to respect him so much. What a legend.
These are just a few memories shared among hundreds and my family and I are forever grateful for your kindness and sympathies.
Dad wore many hats in the community. He was well loved and respected as an educator, a mentor, MC, author, family man, fire fighter, musician, choir teacher, sports coach, sports commentator, radiothon announcer, newspaper columnists, songwriter, historian, founder of San Pedro High School and San Pedro Junior College, Justice of the Peace, Member of the Most Excellent order of the British Empire, Town Councilor, Deputy Mayor, Community Activist, Member and Advisor to the People’s United Party, Lions Member, member of the San Pedro Fishing Cooperative…and much, much, more.
We almost always wait for our loved ones and friends to pass before we let them know how important and loved they are. This was not the case with my dad. His entire family, extended family, students, coworkers and friends constantly reminded him of the impact he had on their lives and I want you all to know that he passed knowing and grateful.
Rafael Angel Nuñez was a legend. Descansa Angelito, we will remember you and honor you in our actions just as you taught us to, Anchored in Success.