Deprivation creates ambition: Gilbert Onofre’s Texas Success story

The Texas Story Project.

His father was being drafted to Vietnam so his mother decided to go out with him for the first time.  He was supposed to have her back by ten PM but they rolled in about 1 am. They found all her bags and belongings packed out on her mother’s front porch, so they decided to get married. One last opportunity and humble beginnings turned out to be a formula for success. In this case, deprivation created ambition.

Gilbert Onofre was born to Gilbert Onofre Sr. and Sylvia Delarosa on March 21, 1969 on the Army base Fort Sam Houston.  His father was stationed and relocated to Seattle Washington for training, bringing his family with him. This is where Gilbert spent the first three years of his life. An avid drug and alcohol abuser his father never made the draft, and as these types of situations usually do, led to multiple cases of domestic abuse.  Pregnant with his second child now, Sylvia had had enough. She packed her bags and children up in a ‘67 Chevy Impala and left. She made the cross-country drive back to her home town of San Antonio, TX, where she was soon reacquainted with a man she once knew, Adolf Guerrero. They married and he remains her husband to this day.   

Back in San Antonio, Gilbert lived with his new family on the immediate east side of San Antonio, around the area where the current Alamo Dome stands. He lived there from about ages 3 to nine years. Being the children of a previous marriage, Gilbert and his sibling were frequently overlooked by their new family. They were often left out and didn't receive the love and affection the immediate children of this family did. They had a home but keeping with the traditions and party nature of these neighborhoods at the time, many drunken fights and family disputes forced them to consider relocation. They decided to move away from the city, to Adkins, TX, a small town near Floresville, where dirt roads and an open pasture graced the area around their 1940s-built house.  Gilbert grew up hunting in the 20-acre pasture behind the house, mostly rabbits and game-birds, such as quail and dove. He graduated from East Central high where he met his first wife and moved with her to Elmendorf, TX. Her father gifted him a 62 Chevy pickup that he used to support his wife and newborn son.  He worked at Colonial Bakery till the age of 25, the worst year of his life.  He had been taking classes at San Antonio College, barely making it when he found his wife to be unfaithful.  Make things worse he was laid off from his job, and almost lost all composure. Right around this time however, Gilbert befriended a woman who was to be his future second wife. He credits her with being the only reason he made it through this time.   

He sat down and took a good look at his life, Gilbert decided the only option was to complete his education in Business. He started working for Sony, making only $ 5.60 an hour. He took advantage of Sony’s tuition reimbursement program and learned many things about leadership from his supervisor there. Gilbert was promoted five times within a couple of years, ending his time at this company with a salary of $62,000.00 a year.  He married a second time and had a second child.     

I met Gilbert in 2007 working for Noorwood Promotional Products. He was my Production Supervisor.  This company, however, was not willing to let him take the time to continue his education, so he resigned.  Recognizing a similar ambitious drive in me, he called me up and asked me to join him. He offered me more money and hours, so I jumped at the opportunity. We continued to move to a few different companies like this, acquiring better pay and working conditions. We worked at a steel manufacturing plant and even an electronics company that made wireless radios used for cell phone coverage. We became good friends. I watched Gilbert work nights, work overtime, raise a family and somehow attain his MBA from Wayland Baptist University.  He now oversees production at the Continental Automotive plant in Seguin, TX.  Reaping all the benefits of his hard work and sacrifice, Gilbert now resides in his beautiful home with his family in the new subdivision just outside the gates of Calaveras Lake. It was he who inspired me to continue my education and pursue my dreams at all cost. He is pretty much the reason I am here at St, Mary’s University today. “People like you and I are the wolves out there and that childhood deprivation created ambition. Almost nothing can keep us from hitting our goals” (G Onofre).

Jonathan Balderas is a third-year transfer student from San Antonio College to St Mary’s University on a singing scholarship. He is a singer, artist, composer, and Street Cyclist who is a member of the San Antonio Zombie cycling club. He is also an avid outdoorsman who enjoys fishing, hunting and kayaking. He plans to attend law school and become a criminal defense attorney.

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