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Longtime Victoria businessman remembered for his love of people

By DIANNA WRAY - DWRAY@VICAD.COM
Nov. 5, 2012 at 5:05 a.m.
Updated Nov. 6, 2012 at 5:06 a.m.

John Artero

BEREAVEMENT INFO

• VISITATION: 2 p.m. Wednesday at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church

• ROSARY: 7 p.m.

• FUNERAL: Visitation will resume at 9 a.m. Thursday; funeral Mass to be celebrated at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Sorrows.

• MEMORIALS: In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Our Lady of Sorrows Building Fund or Sisters of MCHS at 210 Sabine, Victoria

John Artero was the kind of man who never met a stranger.

The longtime owner of Artero Memorial Chapels grew up in the business, which was started by his father in 1940. Artero always made a point of talking with people, trying to make them laugh and smile to help them in their grief.

"I don't think he ever wanted to retire. He worked as long as he possibly could. He loved the business. He loved visiting with people. It was never just a business for him. It was a vocation," his daughter Evelyn Artero-Cano said.

Artero died Sunday afternoon after a brief battle with cancer. He was 82 years old.

Artero was raised in the funeral home business. He was about 10 years old when his father opened the funeral home.

After a stint in the Air Force, he came back to Texas and went to funeral director school in Houston before joining his father in the family business.

After he married, he and his wife, Mamie, both threw themselves into the business, and their children were expected to take part in the funeral home as well, Artero-Cano remembered.

"We were raised helping in the business, and he taught us at an early age how to interact with adults and how to greet people properly at the business," she said.

Artero and his wife suffered their own losses that may have helped them in their compassion with others. After the birth of their eldest daughter Dolores Artero Rosas, they had two sons. Both boys died young.

They had Evelyn Artero-Cano and then their youngest child, John Robert "Bobby" Artero, but the loss of their first two boys - both named John - must have been hard, Artero-Cano said.

"He was really a faithful man, and he really believed in God's plan," she said. "Maybe all of those things they went through strengthened his faith, too. They experienced tragedy in their own lives, too, my parents did."

After 57 years of marriage, Mamie died seven years ago.

He married Sandy Artero five years ago. She fell in love with him because of his warmth and kindness and the way he faced the world with an open face and a friendly word for anyone who came across his path.

"He cared about people. If he was passing a stranger on the street, he would start a conversation with him," his widow said. "He was a Christian man and he practiced his faith, doing what Jesus would want him to do."

Artero was also active in the community and was a Knight of St. Gregory, a member of the De Leon Club, Catholic War Veterans, Salvation Army Board of Advisors, Knights of Columbus, LULAC, served on the Victoria school board from 1964-67, Sembradores de Amistad and the American Red Cross, Artero-Cano noted.

Even as the years passed, he never considered retiring, she said. He was at work every day until three weeks ago, when his strength left him, taken by cancer.

He poured himself into his job, helping the bereaved get through the difficult process of a funeral.

"He always wanted things to be just right for the families, because it was such a hard time," his wife said. "I think he was just that kind of a person. He was that way with everything that he did."

This is the second time the family has had to cope with loss. Earlier this year, Artero's youngest son, John Robert "Bobby" Artero, died of cancer.

Now, Artero's surviving family find themselves preparing to mourn their father in the funeral home he helped to thrive over the decades.

His daughter said she and her sister, Dolores Artero Rosas, are determined to run Artero Memorial Chapels the way their father ran it - with compassion and warmth for the people they serve.

"We will continue his legacy and his father's legacy and try to do the best that we can," she said. "He had great compassion for people, and he was a very caring person. His personality was a gift. It wasn't something he was taught; it was a gift."

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