Rafael Garcia
Rafael Garcia
  • November 15, 1927 - December 29, 2017
  • Madison, Connecticut

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LTC Rafael Garcia, Jr., (USA, Ret.), of Madison, passed away on December 29, 2017, at home while surrounded by family.

He was born November 15, 1927 the son of Rafael Garcia, Sr., and Angelica Trevino Garcia, while his family was living in Burgos, Tamaulipas, Mexico. When he was three, his family returned to Mercedes, TX and Rafael grew up in the Rio Grande Valley, working on his family's ranch. In high school, he ran track, where his team was District champions his senior year.

After high school, he joined the U.S. Army Air Force, participating in the Berlin Airlift in 1948, and spending time stationed close to the North Pole to help establish the mid-Canada line of radars for early warning against Russian air and missile attacks.

After a discharge in 1949, he continued his education on the G.I. Bill at Texas Southmost College and then St. Mary's University, graduating in 1953 with a B.A. in History and a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant, Artillery, U.S. Army. Thus continued a 24-year career in the military, with postings first overseas in Germany and Italy, then to Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Turkey, Washington, Kentucky, China, and finally back stateside to California. During his service, he received the National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, and an Army Commendation.

It was during his first posting in Germany in 1955 that he met and married a fellow traveler, Beth Allis of Meriden CT, who was similarly stationed overseas working for a civilian branch of the Army as head of the services club.

After retiring from the military in1970, he earned a Master's Degree from Southern Connecticut State College and began a second career as a high school history and Spanish teacher, and golf and rifle team coach, at Coginchaug Regional High School in Durham. His children figured he was probably an easy grader, because no matter where they went with him, if they encountered one of his students, their eyes grew wide with wonder as they said, "Mr. Garcia is your father? You are so lucky!"

Retirement from teaching brought time spent fishing on Long Island Sound, cutting and selling wood to fund the annual American Legion Christmas party, ironing during "Sew Days" for Quilts of Valor, and becoming an indulgent grandfather, famous for his ice cream breakfasts.

His children felt privileged to have grown up as military brats, and yes, they were lucky to have him as a father - he was happy to take you shopping the day after Christmas, unquestionably the one to treat you to dinner, or to pile you into the car to get ice cream at Friendly's on a hot summer night, infinitely patient and kind, always ready with a joke, and believer in an open bar as a requirement if he were hosting a function.

Rafael is survived by his wife Beth Allis Garcia; children Dr. Michael Garcia and his wife Sarah of Alexandria, VA and Dana Burnham and her husband Jim of Wilmington, MA; brother Gabriel Garcia and his wife Mary Ellen of Austin, TX; his son-in-law Stephen Gorin of Golden, CO; and grandchildren Charlotte and Samuel Garcia and Thomas and Charlie Burnham. He was predeceased by his daughter Margo Gorin.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday January 6th, at 10 AM in St. Margaret Church, Academy St., Madison, CT. Burial with military honors will follow in West Cemetery. A reception following will be held at the American Legion, 43 Bradley Road.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Griswold Post 79 of the American Legion, 43 Bradley Road, Madison, CT 06443 or to Quilts of Valor, c/o Jane Dougherty, 20 Old Hickory Lane, Branford, CT 06405 or through the national website www.qovf.org, and noted for "Connecticut via Jane Dougherty."

A reception following the service and burial will be held at the American Legion, 43 Bradley Road, Madison. To sign the online guest book visit www.swanfuneralhomemadison.com.