Honoring a Fallen Father
NEW LEADERSHIP DELIVERING RESULTS FOR A BETTER WORLD
His two oldest children were with Tony the day before he left for Vietnam, at Lackland Airforce Base, in San Antonio. Sandy, his oldest, remembers the day clearly… it was so hot that day, and she saw him come around the corner, and ran to him. She was four years old. She hugged him so tight, and he started to pick her up when she panicked… he lifted her up, she looked into his eyes but he kept raising her up over head, turned her around and sat her on his neck and shoulders… she panicked because she knew she had peed on herself, and now her daddy had her pee on his neck, shoulders and uniform. Daddy never complained, but kept her up there for a long time, knowing she had peed!
She remembers when he returned from Vietnam, wounded and with the bullet still in head. He and his mother attended her graduation from kindergarten, in Kerrville. Tony always went the extra mile. He knew if he went he would get the Bible being given to the children that day, and no one else was going to be with Sandy. He got her Bible, and he presented it to her when she became a preacher in 1995, as his own father was one had been a preacher and church planter in Hondo. The Mexican Baptist Church was founded by Tony's dad, Alfredo Santos.
Sandy and her brother Steve, came to live with their father at aged 13 and 11… and he immediately began to teach her, and train her everything she knows today, and everything she has taught her children. She could never apologize for being the very strong woman she was, because it was her father who taught her and all the girls, how to be.
She can never apologize for the strategic, tactical nature she inherited from him, nor how she became a leading authority in her field. Tony Santos taught her that. He taught her so much, including stealth and determination, persistence and never leave your fellow man down and never hurt others, especially family.
In 2014, Sandy was asked by a non-profit organization that trains men in godliness, to write an article for Father’s Day. This article ended up going global and was posted on the website of movie actress Roma Dowling of “Touched by an Angel”. The article was titled, The Warrior in Me, in honor of her father, Tony. In it, she speaks of the military-like leadership he demonstrated in our family. How much she had learned from him, not realizing it. How it almost escaped her. In the article, she also shares the story of one incident where she and her half-sister, were going to sneak out of the house for the first time. They were skateboarders, and played fast pitch softball, and were starting to get in trouble… They were going to sneak down the street and drink beer, but Sandy was going to jump the boy and bring the beer home. They didn’t know the boy had already told Tony, and he was waiting for them.
They decided to go through the back door (which he already knew). Tony Santos, "Stoney" as he was known, had booby-trapped the door and they didn’t know it. She opened the back door, and her half-sister held on to her really tight, but pushed her at the same time. Sandy stuck her head out first and looked down the yard and didn’t see anybody so took a step… and Tony had set a snare that triggered a metal pail bucket that went loudly flying across the yard and crashed… Sandy ran back inside, slamming the door and couldn’t stop laughing, he often said she laughed like a machine gun. The two mustered up the courage to try again, and looked down the yard and still saw nothing. So, knowing the snare was gone, She stepped out, again, cleared the way and motioned for her partner in crime to join her in jumping the fence! Sandy hoisted her body up and swung her leg across the fence, the other hoisted herself up and Tony came up behind them with a gun and said, FREEZE, HANDS UP, DON’T MOVE and Angela said, “*&^%^&". Tony had been sprawled across the grass in his cammies, with his face painted black and he had a Rambo knife.
Sandy carries on her grandfather's legacy as an Ordained minister, receiving her Ordination through John Osteen of Lakewood Church. Tony received Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior in 1995 in his daughter's church, New Life Ministries, in Rosenberg. He was so proud and so glad… but he always expressed his frustration with God, and had questions never answered. He would ask her so often over the years, why God allows suffering, especially of babies, after Tony lost his son, Stacy Santos at 9 days of age to Agent Orange. He had also lost his mother to great suffering, and then there was the horrors of war.
Tony never realized what a strong, incredible spiritual presence he was. How the room changed when he walked in, and how good it felt when he greeted you. He always made you feel special. When Tony Santos said he was so proud of you, you always knew he was! We salute you today, and thank you for your courage, humor, strength and love, and for the leaders and people you made us to be.
Rest now, soldier. You can take your uniform off now.