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Family of founders gets together for a reunion

By by Dianna Wray
April 9, 2011 at 10:01 p.m.
Updated April 8, 2011 at 11:09 p.m.

Santiago "Jim" De León, 98, the oldest of the De León family, laughs as family members gather around him for their photo at the De León reunion Saturday. The different branches of the family got together in various locations to take group photos. They were differentiated by their colored shirts that corresponded to the family member they were decended from.

Did You Know?

Don Martin De Leon and Dona Patricia settled in Texas in the late 18th century and founded what is now known as Victoria.

A smile drew across Santiago "Jim" De Leon's face as he watched his family members gather around the white gazebo in De Leon Plaza to pose for a photograph.

At 98 years old, he was the oldest member of the family gathered for the reunion on Saturday. He looked at the children clustered around him for the photograph and grinned.

"This is fine. This is just fine," he said, taking in the people who gathered from across the country to attend the family reunion of one of Victoria's oldest families.

The De Leon family helped to found Victoria, and on Saturday morning, members of the different branches of the family gathered to take pictures and commemorate the family reunion.

The reunion was organized by Blanche De Leon, the family spokeswoman. She worked for two years putting the reunion together, which brought in family members from California, Florida and Mexico.

Abby Kelly, of Victoria, said she grew up hearing stories about her family's history from her mother. Seeing so many people related to her gathered together was thrilling, she said.

"It makes it more real, seeing what has sprung from those seeds, and we've got huge branches," Kelly said.

Paul Beyer said he was happy to see everyone together because it makes it easier to keep track of the family history.

"Family is important. It's important to know where you come from, what your kinfolk has done," Beyer said.

Each person wrote their name carefully on white strips of paper, to be collected after the photograph was taken identifying each person.

Patricia de Luna, Santiago De Leon's daughter, said she was surprised to arrive at the start of the reunion on Friday evening and see so many people.

"We're in shock. We had no idea what the extent of it was," she said.

De Luna stood proudly behind her father's wheelchair, ready to be in the photograph.

This is wonderful," de Luna said. "I feel so proud to be a part of this, to be a part of such a great family"

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