Deacon Poncho De Leon was a lot of things to a lot of people. Not only was he a Deacon, he was a chemist, a father, a grandfather and a friend. He worked for the University of New Orleans for 21 years at the Advanced Materials Research Institute (where he was Assistant Director), which is a multi-disciplinary institute where researchers, students, and visiting scientists collaborate on projects dealing with materials science and nanotechnology.
Ildefonso “Poncho” Ramos De Leon was born in the high desert town of Marathon, Texas, son Alec De Leon said. The middle child in a Spanish-speaking family with five kids, Poncho De Leon was an academic star in his town. He was class valedictorian at Marathon High School, earning a full scholarship to Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, where he studied chemistry and math, according to his personnel records.
De Leon enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. Following his service in the Marines, he returned to Marathon, where he landed a job in a food co-op and met Margaret Fennelly, whom he married in 1970. He pursued graduate studies in chemistry at Texas A&M before being hired in New Orleans, where he relocated with his young family that grew to include three children.
In 1983, De Leon was ordained as a permanent deacon and took great joy in serving parishioners at our parish during baptisms, weddings, funerals and more. On Facebook, where others post images of family or news stories or political memes, De Leon in the past year took to posting images of flowers—tulips, aster, black-eyed susans, purple roses, dianthus and more.
Deacon Poncho passed away unexpectedly on Friday, July 6, while spending time with his grandchildren. His son said the cause of his collapse and death at age 71 is not yet known. Deacon Poncho will be remembered for his combination of faith, professionalism, kindness and expertise.
Funeral Arrangements for Deacon Poncho will take place, here, at St. Maria Goretti on Friday, July 27, 2018. Visitation is 8:00am – 11:00am with the Holy Name Society leading the rosary at 9:30am, all organizations are invited to participate in the rosary. The Mass of Christian Burial will start at 11:00am.
He is proceeded in death by his wife, Margaret Fennelly. Besides Alec, who resides in New Orleans, he leaves behind a daughter, Marisa Reyes, and her husband Vigneer Reyes, of Metairie; and a son, Esteban De Leon, and his wife, Ann Beck, of Bellingham, Wash. Colleagues say De Leon spoke often of his family and was especially proud of his four grandchildren, Vigneer Jr., Cristian, Marilu and Marigny.
St. Maria Goretti Parish will forever be grateful for Deacon Poncho’s many years of service to our parish. Our prayers are with his family during this difficult time.